Setting the Rolex Explorer II Red 24-hour hand

Using the Rolex Explorer II 24-hour hand


Have a question, ask in the comments section at the very bottom of page.


I certainly love my Rolex watch but I couldn’t really understand what the red 24-hour hand was used for or, expecially, how to set it on my new watch from the information in the Rolex manual however; by trial and error and some research I figured it out!

Rolex Explorer II

What is the red 24-hour hand used for?

The red 24 hour hand on the Rolex Explorer is used to keep track of the time in a particular time zone. Original advertising suggested the red hand could be used by spelunkers (cave explorers) so that they could keep track as to whether is was daytime or nighttime. Of course the red hand need not be set to the time zone you are in. Indeed advertising for the Rolex GMT Master II, which used the same movment as the Explorer II suggested that pilots would use the red hand to keep track of Greenwich Mean Time (hence the name GMT Master).

Personally I use the 24 hour hand to keep track of the time zone I live in and set the watch to the time zone I happen to be in by using the “Jump Hour” feature.

So how do you set the red 24-hour hand?


There are 4 positions the stem can be in:

  • Closed(ready to wear and the only waterproof position!)
  • Position 1 – used to manually wind your watch
  • Position 2 – Quickset (or Jump Hour), used to quickly move the hour hand as well as the date
    (24-Hour Hand doesn’t move)
  • Position 3 – used to set the minute hand and 24-Hour Hand (Hour hand moves as
    well but ignore that for the moment.)

First you need to check that the date is displayed correctly on your Rolex Explorer II and, if not, set it by pulling the crown out to the first stop (Position 2 in the animated GIF on the left) and turning it until you have the correct date. The crown can be turned either clockwise or counter-clockwise to increase or decrease the date.

Next set the 24-hour hand to the correct hour for the time zone you wish to display by pulling the crown out to the last stop (position 3) and adjusting as needed.

Then, with the crown at Position 2 adjust the regular hour hand.

Finally, with the crown at Position 2 adjust the regular hour hand.  Your Rolex Explorer should be good to go.

Of course you might want to set the 24-hour hand to a different time zone in which case you just use the steps above but set the 24-hour hand to the time in what ever zone you prefer.

Personally I just set the 24-hour hand for my local time and adjust the regular hour hand to whatever time zone I happen to be in.


Automatic Watch Winders

So, what is my next step? Well if you’re like me and don’t wear your Rolex or other automatic (self-winding) watch every day, or have more than one, you should consider an Automatic Watch Winder.

BELLINO Watch Winder by Orbita

Why do I need one of those you might ask – well for one thing you just went through a rather tedious process to get your watch set correctly, do you REALLY want to go through that every time your watch winds down?

Watch Winder Scatola del Tempo - Time Safe

Another reason to consider a watch winder is that on precision time pieces you want to insure that they are well lubricated, keeping your watch running helps insure that the lubricant stays distributed reducing wear and of course repair/maintenance expenses. Every time you wind your watch manually it puts a small amount of stress on various components which over time can lead to failures.




Also, when you wind your watch you mustRolex Watch Winder unscrew the stem which will eventually cause wear to the gasket that is necessary to maintain your watch’s water resistance. An automatic watch winder can be had from well under $100 for a winder for a single watch to many times what you paid for your Explorer II.

Next – Simple Method to use your Rolex Explorer II as a compass!

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