This week’s grail watch article is going to require some explaining. We are going to be considering two iconic vintage Rolex references, both linked to an altogether different type of icon, one of which he never wore but which bears his name, the other he wore religiously which doesn’t.
The King of Cool
Was Steve McQueen the trendiest guy who ever lived? I’d never presume to give my opinion but…yes. Yes, he was.
In his life he extinguished towering infernos, awakened San Francisco in a Mustang and jumped barbed wire fences on a stolen motorbike when wearing his standard issue POW leather jacket and khakis.
Robust and self-assured, his personality was no nonsense usefulness over showy statement; an uncompromising attitude that extended to every portion of his lifetime, including his or her watches. While onscreen he’s most frequently associated with the square dial, blue-faced Tag Heuer Monaco he wore in the 1970 film Le Mans, in his personal life, McQueen was a Rolex steve mcqueen explorer ii by blaken replica watch fan. Along with the model he wore consistently for the previous 20 decades of his life, before his untimely death in 1980, was the ref. 5512 Submariner. Thus far so great. But if you just happen to take part in any research of this guy and his brand, you’ll be presented with page after page of a very different model, one that’s been inextricably linked to McQueen for decades, with zero evidence he ever wore you.
The ref. 1655, the first of the Explorer II range, will forever be known as the Steve McQueen Rolex. In the exact same way it took only one photograph of Paul Newman wearing his exotic dial Daytona within an Italian magazine to permanently alter that specific watch’s standing, so it was with McQueen and the Explorer.
Despite the similarity in name, the Explorer II was never intended as a successor to the original Explorer out of 1953.
Whereas that version was the epitome of simple, elegant functionality, the ref. 1655 released in 1971 was a totally separate entity using a far more specific brief. With its all steel structure, fixed engraved bezel and bright crimson 24-hour hand, the Explorer II had its sights fixed on a really select set of individuals from the start–one which, where sun was concerned, watched either too much or none at all. Researchers and explorers whose life and work requires them into the extremes of both polar areas, where the sun never sets at the summer or rises in sunlight, or else to the eternal darkness of uncharted caverns, can quickly shed their sense of day and night. With the Explorer II, the boldly colored’Freccione’ (literally’large arrow’ in Italian) hand consistently indicated the proper hour on the 24-hour graduated bezel, providing some point of reference to those who hadn’t or could not see daylight for sometimes weeks at a time.
However, although it used the exact same movement as the ref. 1675 GMT-Master of the era, the Cal. 1575, the Explorer II wasn’t a true GMT watch. The non-rotating surround supposed it could not be used to keep track of two time zones as the pilot’s watch could.
Between this perceived lack of power, its extremely confining market and a dial which many thought too cluttered and unreadable, and the ref. 1655 fought to get a foothold in Rolex replica watches‘s sports scope. Hold it up alongside the Subs, Sea-Dwellers and even the still marginalized Daytonas of the time, and it lagged a long way behind in popularity and outright sales.
Even so, it had a decent run. Overall, the earliest of this Explorer IIs stuck around until 1985 and went through five distinct versions in its 14 decades.
Identified as Mark I to Mark V, the only distinctions between each version are second, even for Rolex explorer steve mcqueen homage replica , changes to the dial, bezel and handson. The Mark II dial, for example, that ran from 1972 to 1977, has got the’Frog Foot’ coronet–a unique design of the brand’s logo that looks like, you guessed it, the foot of a frog.
The Mark III is known as the’railroad dial’, a rare and highly desired version made between 1974 and 1977, in which the letter’C’ of’Chronometer’ is lined up perfectly with the’C’ of’Accredited’ in the two traces of’SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED’ text.
Other details, like the four individual styles of bezel, which varied in the thickness and positioning of the fonts, or if the seconds hand is straight or has a lume dot in the end (the’lollipop’ style) have a fantastic effect on prices for classic examples.
Possibly the largest visible gap and the one that has the most bearing on the ref. 1655’s worth is in the 24-hour hand. The first pieces were known because of their vivid orange color, but around 1975, Rolex explorer steve mcqueen history fake watches chose to change them to red. On the other hand, the paint they utilized stained poorly over time, and these reddish hands would fade back to orange, or even to yellow or sometimes bleach completely white, called the Albino Explorers. All aspects which can make dating a 1655 a significant challenge.
The Attainable Grail
1655 could be obtained for a surprisingly realistic cost. Note I said realistic rather than cheap. A fantastic later example will still put you back northwards of $15k, early Mark I dials are twice that and beyond Nevertheless, this is just one classic Rolex that symbolizes a truly excellent investment. While prices have been increasing steadily for the past few decades, it’s still a badly undervalued watch compared to the other sports versions from a similar interval. Whether or not he really wore one we will never know, however, Steve McQueen’s namesake has become, suitably enough, the rebel’s alternative.
Similar to the ref. 1655 above, the Submariner ref. 5512 evolved throughout its run, but it’s a bit more complicated than with the Explorer II.
The very earliest examples were what’s referred to as the 2-line models. When it was released, the 5512 was driven by Rolex’s Cal. 1530, a fine movement in itself, but non-chronometer ranked. Perhaps not passed, or been filed for, accreditation in the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, or COSC, that lays down rigorous standards for the accuracy of mechanical watch movements, Rolex were not able to bring the SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED text to the Sub’s dial. Consequently, the only writing besides the’Rolex’ and’Oyster Perpetual’ labels were the Submariner name as well as also the water resistance, 200m-660ft.
Throughout the mid-60s, the motion was updated to the Cal. 1560, and then to the Cal. 1570 a bit later, both COSC-rated, which led to the more common 4-line dial examples, testifying for their chronometer credentials.
The introduction of cosmetic crown guards to the Submariner range succeeded in making an already desirable watch even more vital. Yet the very first bits which were produced, and by very first we imply about the initial 100 examples, comprised square guards that made it too difficult to unscrew the crown.
The shape was shortly changed to a more pointed layout, with those handful of original bits going on to be the most sought after classic models of the ref. 5512. As an interesting side note, the square crown shield instances Rolex explorer ii steve mcqueen vintage orange 1655 clone had gone to the trouble of earning were sent over to their sister firm Tudor to be utilized for their Submariner, the ref. 7928–that today stands as the rarest example of the watch too.
By the time that the 5512’s race has been run in 1978, it had gone through countless tiny variations, especially of its dial. Each has its own place, and costs between two examples that to the uninitiated look to be nearly indistinguishable may be astronomical.
The ref. 5512 is a real all time great from the canon, regarded by many purists since the last of the breed–a perfect, manly instrument watch.
Thankfully, for such an essential chapter in the Submariner story, late cases can be had for roughly precisely the exact same price as the ref. The Sub was created in far greater numbers than the Explorer, which makes lots of choice on the preexisting market.