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Rolex Explorer 2 vs Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE245 vs Rolex 216570 Explorer II

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Rolex vs Grand Seiko is an east-west battle of the best! Today on Versus, Tim Mosso evaluates the Rolex Explorer II 216570 against the limited edition Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SGE245. Swiss watches vs Japanese watches isn’t the only decision point; this match includes a showdown between Rolex’s “Superlative Chronometer” with Seiko’s legendary Spring Drive quartz/mechanical hybrid. Two times two time zones starts now!

The Rolex Explorer II debuted in 1971; never quite a star on par with the Rolex GMT Master, the Explorer 2 has become an offbeat Rolex for collectors who take the path less chosen And it’s an imposing Rolex at 42mm in diameter. This case size launched at Baselworld 2011, and the plus-sized Rolex Explorer has remained a controversial watch ever since. Slim at under 12.5mm thick, the 216570 is a rare Rolex complication that flies below the radar and the shirt cuff.

Rolex fits its fixed-bezel expedition watch with a stainless steel Oyster bracelet and clasp. The deployant clasp includes both clamshell and trigger locking technology. Inside, a Rolex Easylink adjustment system and three anchoring options ease sizing to suit most wrists. The case, clapsp, and bracelet are finished primarily in satin brushed surfacing. Two dials are available on the Explorer II: there’s the white “polar” dial, and then there’s the black “Steve McQueen” dial seen on today’s example.

A Rolex in-house caliber 3187 automatic movement provides two independent time zones and a 48-hour power reserve. COSC chronometer certification, a Breguet overcoil hairspring in Parachrom Blue antimagnetic alloy, a free sprung balance, and a full balance bridge round out the refinements. Thanks to the Rolex Twinlock crown, the 216570 is water resistant to 100 meters.

Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive GMT SBGE245 is based heavily on the existing SBGE215. However, the 600-piece limited edition 245 features fewer yellow gold accents than the 215 while adding an extraordinary sunburst red/burgundy metallic dial case. Grand Seiko believes that the dial evokes the mahogany decks of yachts, but no comparison is necessary; this red sunburst dial is gorgeous as a standalone statement. A bi-directional GMT bezel permits calculation of a third time zone, and its surfaces is covered by a cambered sapphire.

Both the sapphire bezel and dial of this Spring Drive GMT employ Seiko Lumibrite paint for legibility in the dark. By day, the dial is graced by handsome applied indices, meticulously detailed hands, a power reserve indicator, and hands for local 12-hour time and a reference time zone in 24-hour format. A date display resides at 3 o’clock.

The Spring Drive GMT is crafted from Zaratsu-polished stainless steel with a 44mm case diameter. A matching stainless steel bracelet with deployant clasp keeps the watch securely anchored to the owner’s wrist. Inside the case, which endows 200 meter water resistance, a Grand Seiko caliber 9R66 spring drive automatic movement keeps the time.

Precision of +/- 15 seconds per month is assured, and a 72-hour power reserve easily surpasses the 48 of the Rolex. Hacking seconds, an independent second time zone, and the characteristic “smooth” sweep of the Spring Drive seconds hand are among the features of this caliber.

Grand Seiko vs Rolex starts now!

The Grand Seiko Sport Collection Spring Drive GMT Limited Edition SBGE245 is encased in 44mm of stainless steel surrounding a brown dial on a stainless steel bracelet. Functions include hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve indicator, and GMT. The watch also measures 14.7mm in thickness and 52.7mm from end-link-to-end-link.

The Rolex Explorer II 216570 is encased in 42mm of stainless steel surrounding a black dial on a stainless steel bracelet. Functions include hours, minutes, seconds, date, and GMT. The watch also measures 12.4mm in thickness and 53.emm from end-link-to-end-link.

For complete details, watch the full review!

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34 thoughts on “Rolex Explorer 2 vs Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT SBGE245 vs Rolex 216570 Explorer II”

  1. Schleberger says:

    Imagine buying asian trash over swiss goodness. Rolex, no question.

  2. Sachin Ki says:

    I can't afford either of them

  3. Please! Who the hell wants to wear a Seiko. Accurate no doubt but Seiko is Getto!

  4. I honestly can't decide. I love GS, but 44 is just too big.

  5. J S says:

    LOL @ "Thin Mint vs. Samoa"…now I'm wanting to buy a watch AND hungry.

  6. Kalvin Smith says:

    No brainer…(GS)! I hear hearts being broken LOL!

  7. Seiko is better design but I'm a slave to classic/simple and name. I apologize to all true geeks out there! Tim you are literally the man.

  8. Is like comparing Novak Djokovic all accuracy, agility, endurance, adapting against roger federGAY boring-soporifer-arrogant-big DORK.
    By the way the first sponsored by Seiko, and federGAY, well…

  9. dronjones1 says:

    For me the sum of the parts does not add up. GS on paper but in the flesh I am with Tim and would go Polar Explorer…. so much so that I did exactly that!

  10. Chris says:

    I prefer GS and I'd choose that GMT over the black dial exp2…. But if it was the polar dial then my choice would be Rolex.

  11. Nick Sundby says:

    Wow that Seiko is ugly

  12. Nick G says:

    2 great watches!!

  13. jacc88888 says:

    Good review but neither excites me.

  14. Tom Khong says:

    The GS makes Rolex ex 2 looks so dated and dull

  15. L G says:

    Seiko or Rolex mmmmmmmmmh let me think ……. OK, I can buy a Ford and polish it to match a Rolls Royce or Bentley…or even better the polish….but its still a Ford !

  16. Uno Bassman says:

    The Grand Seiko looks like a Seiko 5…. I will have the Rolex Exp II any day of the week over the Grand Seiko. Stop comparing Seiko to Rolex… compare it to an IWC or Omega maybe.

  17. Adam Lichman says:

    Gotta be the Rolex for me. The explorer II is my favorite watch especially in the polar dial. Your review for me is spot on. I tried to love the GS but I just couldn't. Too much going on and it's enormous.

  18. celestialfix says:

    The comparison here is a bit asymmetrical.. In design and colors, the head on comparison would be the GS GMT and perhaps the Rolex Root Beer GMT.

  19. Peter M says:

    Grand Seiko, hands down. It beats Rolex on all fronts with exception of snobbery and thickness.

  20. StarSn1per says:

    Buy a better camera..

  21. That Rolex looks so sleepy; so yesterdecade; so yestermillennium. Grand Seiko is slowly winning me over. But I think diving watches and GMT watches should in all cases be one-in-the-same. I, just like many other pilots that I know, will enjoy the occasional dive during a longer layover. Furthermore, many serious divers will cross many time zones in pursuit of their passion. And so a watch that’s ideally suited for both purposes would be best. Omega does this with certain models and Blancpain did it on no-longer-made Trilogy Series. Why hasn’t this trend caught on with other makers? Speaking of GMT watches, take a look at UN’s Travel Time series. The 12-hour hand is adjusted by pushing a “+” or a “-“ button on the case band. That’s how all GMT watches should work; not by utilizing the crown. In being paired up with also being a diving watch, such a GMT watch would likely need to screw the “+” and “-“ buttons down against the case band a la Daytona style. That would be just fine. Now, if you truly wanted to make a professional traveler’s watch then there should be two date displays, one that corresponds to the GMT hand (GMT date), and one that corresponds to the 12 hour hand (local date). Every time I go fly I have to look at my smart phone to check on the GMT date, as it’s often not the same as local date, so that I don’t screw up the logbook. My mechanical watch should do that for me. Now, if you truly wanted to make it a pilot’s watch then you’d add a Julian Day counter, tied to the GMT hand, so that pilots can confirm the Julian Day against the TMI on their Nat Message.

    Anyway, just my 2¢ but I actually travel for a living and could use such functionality in a “tool” watch.

  22. mena seven says:

    I like the Grand Seiko more then the Rolex because the Grand Seiko bezel, dial and bracelet are more beautiful then the Rolex Explorer. The Rolex explorer looks like a vintage watch but the good think about the is more prestige, holding value, can easily be service and has a tic tac.

  23. Bud Owens says:

    Most Grand Seiko's have some continuity of style, this particular GS is all over the place. A green/grey bezel with a sunburst burgundy dial? Who in their right mind picked that combination? It looks gargantuan, ungainly even, on the wrist compared to the Explorer. The Rolex may be bland to some but it is cohesive in it's design and at the same time, it's timeless. I know there is a poseur perception with anything Rolex, but here the Explorer wins easily. I'm sorry but in my eyes, that Grand Seiko is ghastly.

  24. The GS is a nice looking watch but 44mm?? No thanks. I have a big wrist but all these jumbo sized watches look ridiculous.

  25. Its a bit like toyota/lexus vs mercedes. I ll have the mercedes.

  26. Some of you grand seiko lovers need to get a lesson in supply and demand. Take a class in economics…you can thank me later…..nick doesnt know that if you buy a rolex sub for 8950….guess what….you can sell it five years and never lose a cent….I bet you geniuses will want a house that holds value….well, life lesson number 21…always, buy any merchandise that holds value……it great if that's what you want in life and just want an overpriced seiko go for it….my advice…get your goals aimed higher….this is where you say thank you…

  27. Canon Yeo says:

    I have this gs. The sapphire glass bezel is so classy. I put it on sport leather strap and watch looks even better. I have many Rolex. They are no match for the gs, inside and out.

  28. CrimFerret says:

    I like the standard black dial version of this more. One other advantage you didn't mention for the GS is that since it has a 24 hour scale around the dial, you can actually use the bezel to keep track of a third time zone. THis is actually something I'd use. I also appreciate the crown at the 4 o'clock position where it's less likely to get snagged. Finally, I hate the Rolex cyclops. The date on the GS is fine where it is and as understated as it is.

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