Most high performance watches are built for yacht racing, flying, diving, and driving. The Rolex Explorer II is a different story entirely in that it was designed very specifically for spelunkers. The most obvious feature geared towards cave explorers is the bright red/orange hand. As one can imagine, cave explorers spend most of their time underground and lose track of daytime and nighttime. This additional 24-hour hand was put in place to distinguish A.M. and P.M. On top of that feature, a luminous circle was added for increased visibility in dark conditions.
Why is it called the Steve McQueen?
Steve McQueen, known for his roles in The Sand Pebbles, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Great Escape, and many more, was a beloved actor of the 60s and 70s. He was even dubbed “the king of cool” after playing lovable anti-heroes. Although McQueen was an official ambassador for Heuer watches, he personally preferred the Rolex watches. His personal favorite was actually the Rolex Submariner No-Date ref. 5512. However, word got around that Steve McQueen also fancied the Explorer II ref. 1655 and the watch community has since accepted this nickname. Thus, this model is now widely known as the Steve McQueen Rolex Explorer II.
Given the rich history and intrigue surrounding this particular model, it is no surprise that there was such competition at this auction. Over 250 watch buyers placed competitive bids during the 5-day auction, resulting in a deal for $9,600!
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