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The Explorer II - Cream Dial Variants

March 18 2012 at 11:25 AM
matt.wu  (Login matt.wu)
VRF Member
from IP address

A relaxing, sunny Sunday morning here in California. I sit sipping an Americano and find myself admiring the special nuances in vintage Rolex watches and wanting the opinions of my fellow enthusiasts.

It has been awhile since I've seen a post pontificating the validity and rarity of all the different claimed "cream dial Explorers". I know that early on, the common opinion was that cream dial Explorer = 16550 with rail text. Period. However, over the years, other variations have arisen. This throws a wrench into the mix and has collectors curious as to whether or not some could be artificially "creamed", which are the most "collectable", and whether or not cream dials are even worth collecting anymore.

I admit that I already know where I stand. This thread comes up because I've recently picked up one for myself. Probably nothing anyone could say would convince me I don't have a legitimate cream dial Explorer, but I still value the discussion with the enthusiasts here.

To me, the fact that we've seen four variations, leads me to believe that there may be more cream dials out there than previously thought. We've seen:

1) 16550 (wg surrounds): cream and rail
2) 16550 (wg surrounds): cream and non-rail
3) 16570 (black surrounds): cream and rail
4) 16570 (black surrounds): cream and non-rail

Here is what I based my acquisition on. Not knowing how many other cream dials are out there, or not knowing if "creaming" could be artificially induced, I eliminated #2 and #4 from contention, as non-rail variants of the watches are already more rare - this is not disputed and cannot be re-created without redialing the watch.

Leaving #1 and #3, I searched. I honestly would have been happy with either, but I think the black surrounds are kind of unique to the white dialed Explorers, so I leaned in that direction. Additionally, I know that others (like Arthur, here: have previously mentioned combo #3 could be potential more rare. It certainly isn't seen as often. So that is the one I set my sights on.

Well, the decision was made easy for me when I was able to pick one up (16570 with cream and rail dial) complete with box and papers. And in person, I love it. At best, I've got a nice, rare watch with full set. At worst, I've got a rail dialed Explorer II with full set, still not a bad thing happy.gif.

So what say you? Have opinions changed as to what can truly be called a cream dial Explorer II? Or do the different sides still simply agree to disagree?

Here are some pictures, sans the box and papers as those are boring to photograph. I find the cream dial very hard to capture, but then again I'm not a great photographer:

[linked image]

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Wrist shot:

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With the older brother:

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Now, this is all just an explanation of my personal thought process and is not an intent to slam the choices of others. I'm just curious to hear what others think.

P.S. - And please don't take my post as any sort of "gospel truth" on which to make your purchasing decisions. wink.gif

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