Rare Rolex Explorer II Transitional ref. 16570 “Tuminova” Dial circa 1998


An ultra rare transitional Rolex Explorer II ref. 16750 with a T<25 marked dial, but with Luminova indexes and hands! With a late U serial number dating it to 1998, this watch sits directly in the sweet spot of a massive shift within Rolex and the watch community at large. This Explorer II marks the earliest transition from Rolex’s use of radioactive compounds to light powered phosphorescents in their watch luminescents. While many watch enthusiasts are aware of the rare “Swiss Only” dial, the roughly two year variant denoting the use of Luminova instead of tritium or the later Super Luminova, hardly any are privy to the existence of the earliest “Tuminova Dial”

It’s 1998 and Rolex, along with many other Swiss watch brands, is beginning the conversion to Luminova. The tritium dials they have been using for decades are marked so at the 6 o’clock position with the label “Swiss-T<25”, and Rolex has a few unfinished, no luminescence yet added dials left over. So, like any dollar conscious manufacturer they decide that wasting them makes little to no sense, and they finish those few (very few) dials with the very first use of Luminova. Marked T for the expected use of Tritium, but completed with the new and technologically superior Luminova, the “Tuminova Dial” was born. Then, after what at the absolute most could have been a few months, it was killed off as quickly as it arrived, making it a blip on the vintage Rolex map, and in our opinion, a future classic.

Identical in every other way to a regular 16570, this 1998 rare bird features a 39mm diameter stainless steel case, 24 hour fixed bezel, sapphire crystal, and screw down crown and caseback. What sits just under the exceptional dial in impression would in any other scenario be the star of the listing, its condition. The watch is completely unpolished, retaining its original thick bevels and a bracelet with very little stretch. It is powered by automatic caliber 3185 movement with quick set date.

Recently fully serviced by one of our veteran watchmakers and offered with our 1 year warranty of accurate timekeeping and operation. Also accompanying your purchase is one of our beautiful handmade Italian leather watch travel pouches, a $45 value. A wonderful and still relatively unknown piece of Rolex history that would add depth to even the most expansive collection.

SKU: 50634 Category:

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