Originally manufactured to assist cave explorers in differentiating between day and night as they would spend many hours at a time in the dark, the Rolex Explorer II 'freccione' has since been known as the watch for volcanologists, speleologists, polar explorers, and the like. Gaining its claim to fame and nickname from Steve McQueen.
Why that nickname? Well, the Reference 1655 Rolex Explorer II was nicknamed the “Steve McQueen” Rolex due to misinterpretation after the famous actor was allegedly seen sporting one in public. This of course, gave a boost of sales of the slightly quirky watch designed for speleologists. Ever since the timepiece has been referred to as the Steve McQueen Rolex by collectors of Rolex timepieces.
On the other hand, not too bad of a reference, seeing that for more than half a century, Steve McQueen has been seen as the summum of masculinity. With box-office records throughout the sixties and seventies—starring in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kidbut —the actor was also revered for his offscreen passions: racing cars, riding motorcycles and collecting watches.
The Reference 1655 Rolex Explorer II was built with a 40 mm stainless steel case and an Oyster bracelet and it was produced between 1971 and 1984.