1973 Rolex Explorer II – £18,500 at Richard Winterton, July 5, 2021.

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Launched in 1971, the Explorer II was not a great commercial success but it is a very different story today.

The distinctive orange 24-hour hand was originally intended to help the wearer keep track of day and night in places such as caves or extreme environments where the sun never sets. At 12 o’clock there is a large triangle marker and cyclops eye for the date aperture at 3 o’clock.

Winterton described it as “a watch somehow simultaneously atypical of the brand and quintessentially Rolex. In fine functioning condition and presented on the original Oyster bracelet, we expected this to be another example of how vintage watches can powerfully accumulate in value. We weren’t disappointed.”

At the auction on July 5, it sold to a phone bidder for £18,500 (estimate £12,000-16,000).