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  1. #1
    PREMIUM MEMBER Avatar von Prof. Rolex
    Registriert seit

    The History of the Explorer II 1655

    Dear Rolex-Fans,
    several times I have been asked, whether there is also an english translation of my german thread regarding the 1655-history. Here it is and in the following I will try to show the history of the Explorer II 1655 from the beginning 1971 to the end of the production 1984.

    So let us start with the the first version from 1971:

    (from an Explorer-Booklet for Ref. 1016 and 1655)

    It can be seen, that the first version had a folded Oyster-bracelet, the second hand was in form of a „needle“ and the figures of the 24h-bezel are positioned near to the crystal.

    For the record: 1655 first version:
    Bezel with figures positioned near to the crystal
    “Needle” second hand
    Folded Oyster-bracelet Ref. 7836 (may be different in the US)

    The booklet for the Explorer was never changed over the complete production period of the 1655 from 1971 to 1984. This is remarkable, as even 1984 the 1655 was still shown in their prime version from 1971.

    The first change of the 1655 was made 1973/74 on the bezel, as the figures were positioned in the middle of the bezel:

    (from a Rolex catalog dated 1976)

    So we have the version 2:
    Bezel with figures positioned in the middle of the bezel
    “Needle” second hand
    Folded Oyster-bracelet Ref. 7836 (may be different in the US)

    The second change was made 1978 in replacing the needle-hand and the folded Oyster-bracelet:

    (from a Rolex catalog dated 1978)

    This results in version 3:
    Bezel with figures positioned in the middle of the bezel
    Second hand with luminious dot and „counterweight“
    more massive Oyster-bracelet Ref. 78360 (may be different in the US)

    After starting my interest for a 1655 in 1978/79 I have seen many 1655 in the AD-windows and sometimes I went in to have a 1655 in my own hands. At that time I noticed, that all 1655 still had the folded bracelet and the needle-hand, although the new catalog from 1978 already shows the 1655 with a luminious dot on the second hand. The sometimes heard theory, that the needle was replaced already 1973/74 by the luminious-hand cannot be confirmed from my side, as it is improbable, that all the 1655 I have seen 1978/79 were made before 1973/74. The version with the luninious-hand was hard to find at that time and only at Bucherer the new version was available and bought by me 1979. It was pure chance, that my 1655 had in addition a very rare anomaly, but I will come back to that point later.

    Beginning of the 80ies the thickness of the font for the 24h-figures became thinner and the dividers went over the complete width of the bezel, as can be seen from the following picture:

    (Source: Bachmann & Scher)

    Unfortunately I do not know, whether the thinner font was used parallely to the thicker font or whether it replaced the thicker font completely.

    During the years several dials were used for the 1655 and following please find an attempt to the chronological sequence:

    1. variant: small and pointed Rolex-crown, „T SWISS T“, ex works for version 1-3:
    See above, version 1-3

    2. variant: like 1., but symmetrical chronometer-writing (Rail Dial), very rare anomaly, ex works probably only for version 3:

    (My own 1655, first owner since 1979)

    3. variant: modern more rounded Rolex-crown, „T SWISS < 25 T“, ex works only for version 3:

    (Source: RLX-Member Volvoman)

    4. und last variant: like 3., but modern Rolex-writing, ex works only for version 3:

    (Souerce: RLX-Gallery)

    Beside the rail dial there is another interesting anomaly with the luminious dot of the second hand positioned more to the end of the hand. This second hand was used only a very short time beginning of the 80ies with dial variant 3. The dot is positioned approx. 68 % instead of normally 56 % of the length of the hand:

    (Source: RLX-Member savoy-truffle)

    I would like to point out, that the a.m. main versions of the 1655 show the chronological sequence ex works Rolex. But if a version 1 for example went to the Rolex-service beginning of the 80ies, in most cases the needle-hand was replaced by the dot-hand and maybe also the bezel with outer figures was replaced by a bezel with figures positioned in the middle. So after such a service an original version 1 may become a version 3, but it is still an original 1655. Looking to the todays 1655 it is very difficult to tell, which version it is (was), as only very few 1655 are still in their original condition ex works and the same applies also for the different dials. Therefore a timely classification of todays 1655 is in most cases only possible by the serial number.

    During the whole production period of the 1655 the caliber 1575GMT was used. Therefore the 1655 was beginning of the 80ies one of only a few Rolex models, which do not had the quickset feature for the date. Only 1984 the 1655 was replaced by the 16550 with sapphire crystal and caliber 3085.

    But let us come back once again to the bezels and dials, because there is an additional variant, which came into the picture after the end of the 1655 production. This are the modern replacement bezels and dials.

    Modern replacement bezel:

    (My own 1655 with replacement bezel after the general overhaul at Rolex in the year 2000)

    In direct comparison the difference to the contemporary bezel can be seen. The replacement bezel has a thinner font, the dividers are shorter and especially the upstroke of the “1” is different.

    Modern replacement dial with Luminova („SWISS“):

    (Source: Bachmann & Scher)

    For the time being I would like to finish here, but as always corrections and/or additions are highly appreciated.

    Best Regards
    The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

  2. #2
    PREMIUM MEMBER Avatar von GeorgB
    Registriert seit
    WOW, Super! Danke für die Arbeit, Matthias!
    Servus Georg

    Wer zu spät kommt, den bestraft der Straßenpreis ...

  3. #3

    "„Vor fünf Jahren konnte man noch angeben, wenn man zum Shoppen nach New York geflogen ist. Heute gibt man an, wenn man Eier von eigenen Hühnern hat.“

  4. #4
    Registriert seit
    You certainly live up to the name "Professor." Thanks for the hard work!
    John B. Holbrook, II
    OWNER - LUXURY TYME: The Rolex Reference Page

  5. #5
    Daytona Avatar von Norbert
    Registriert seit

    RE: The History of the Explorer II 1655

    Thanks for the wonderful story also in english!!

  6. #6
    That's true passion

  7. #7
    Yacht-Master Avatar von Montreal
    Registriert seit
    Gmunden im Salzkammergut
    very interesting facts - thank you for sharing with us
    Georg grüßt...

  8. #8
    Registriert seit
    Planet Earth
    Indeed a excellent thread, thanks a lot..

  9. #9
    Yacht-Master Avatar von Hannibal
    Registriert seit
    Thanks for the excellent information.
    Kind regards

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