Little idiosyncrasies can make all the difference between rare and run-of-the-mill in the vintage watch world, just like this cream dial Rolex Explorer II.

The Cream Dial Rolex Explorer II

The Rolex Explorer II is not generally considered a rare watch, although there certainly are a couple of versions that are particularly desirable to astute collectors. The model we have here today, an R-serial number Ref 16550 from 1987 is certainly one of them and as you’ll soon discover there a few traits in particular that make this watch quite rare and as a result highly collectible. Not to mention the fact it also looks superb in the flesh.

Generally speaking when you think of a Rolex Explorer II you would normally picture an all-white or an all-black dial, however this watch has neither. Instead, it features a rich cream-colored dial, which I must say is really quite striking, especially in the right light. To be fair though, it didn’t start out this gorgeous color.

Cream Dial Rolex Explorer II

As with many of the older Rolexes the story of its transformation can be traced back to defective paint. When the Rolex Explorer II was first released in 1984 it too featured the bright white dial we commonly associate with the present day model, however over time it faded (much like the dial on this tropical Rolex Daytona) to the distinctive color you see before you now.

Cream Dial Rolex Explorer II

What makes this Rolex Explorer II even more interesting though is the unusual color scheme of the dial. Mostly you tend to see this particular model with white gold surrounds around the markers and white gold hands, however this one has black outlines instead. Additionally it features a rail dial, meaning that the “C” of Chronometer lines up with the “C” of Certified on the line below.

Cream Dial Rolex Explorer II

These two attributes in combination may cause people to assume that this Rolex Explorer II is in fact a Ref. 16570, however the experts at Christie’s are confident that it is a Ref 16550, making it even rarer. Best of all this watch will be sold with the original papers and what appears to be the original and correct bracelet.

Cream Dial Rolex Explorer II

Make It Yours

This cream dial Rolex Explorer II will be coming soon to Christie’s Watch Shop and based on previous sales I would estimate the price will be around US$19,000.

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Tom Mulraney
Tom Mulraney
Founder & Editor
Tom likes to write about luxury watches. So much so, that he created The Watch Lounge just so he would have an outlet for his passion. Together with his team, he is dedicated to bringing you original, entertaining (and maybe even a little educational) luxury watch and lifestyle content.

2 thoughts on “Cream Dial Rolex Explorer II Circa. 1987 For #VintageWatchFridays”

  1. Paul Devonport says:

    I have a Rolex 16550 Polar model purchased from new in the Far East” Hongkong in 1985. The dial with the paint issue is cream now in colour. I have all associated paperwork from when it was purchased. My question is what is the value now? It’s in mint condition & the last service was in 2017 by Rolex.

  2. Paul DEVONPORT says:

    I have a Rolex Explorer 2′ 16550 model – purchased new in 1985 in Hong Kong. It has a rail dial’ and cream face from the paint defect Rolex have admitted it made. It’s in mint condition – only serviced by Rolex over the years.
    My question is with all the associated paper work still with the Watch” what is its value now?

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