The Rolex Explorer 114270 is a simple sportswatch. It doesn’t have a rotating bezel or a date complication. It’s a very plain and simple watch and could be mistaken for a dresswatch. But then it has elements of a field watch with the super legible 3,6 and 9. I consider it the perfect under the radar toolwatch.

History

Created in 1953 to honor the adventures of the Everest conquerors Norgay and Hillary, the Rolex Explorer was the first of a long line of Rolex tool watches designed to go anywhere.

rolex explorer stock picture

The Explorer was developed from the original 1930s Oyster Perpetual “bubblebacks” and the first water-resistant and self-winding wristwatches to achieve technical and commercial success. Norgay and Hillary immortalized the Rolex Explorer and the continuous incremental improvements by Rolex led to the Explorer 114270 produced from 2002 until 2010.

The Watch

Even the average “man on the street” understands that the brand stands as a synonym for quality. And in the Explorer, Rolex delivers. The Geneva watchmaker ranks among the exclusive club of true manufacturers that produce virtually every part of their watches by themselves.

The 36mm stainless steel case itself is a great example of Rolex’s eye for detail.

The steel itself; Rolex makes it in its own company foundry. It is of the 904L type, not the lesser resilient 316L employed by the majority of watchmakers. 904L is more expensive to produce and harder to work with. The payoff is the watch’s lifetime and scratch resistance. The steel preserves the polished and brushed finishes and the corrosion resistance is higher than with conventional stainless steel. Rolex is building watches that last a lifetime (or two, or three).

picture of the rolex explorer

Inside the case is the Rolex Cal. 3130 chronometer grade movement which beats at 28.800 vibrations per hour. The movement is COSC certified in a two-week evaluation process. This certification tests the movement in different positions and temperatures. The Rolex calibre 3130 has a power reserve of 48 hours and it is fitted with a Parachrom hairspring, offering greater resistance to shocks and to temperature variations.

More than any other aspect of the watch, the dial is what makes the Explorer unique.

Three Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock combined with the triangular marker at 12 and intermediate stick indexes, no date, smooth bezel. Signature “Mercedes” cathedral hands are, like all indexes, rendered in white gold for enduring resistance to corrosion and tarnish. The rich black lacquer dial provides a beautiful gloss backdrop to the white gold elements.

Specifications

Model Number: Rolex Explorer Ref. 114270

Movement: Rolex Cal. 3130

Case Material: 904L Stainless Steel

Glass Material: Sapphire Crystal

Lug Width: 20mm

Conclusion

The Rolex Explorer Ref. 114270 is the last of the 36mm Explorers. It represents a time where Rolex built tools rather than jewelery and investment pieces. But make no mistake… the Explorer can be worn with a suite to an evening in the opera. If there is one lesson learned from history, it’s that a Rolex Explorer is your companion anywhere.

I bought the 114270 in 2016 and since then it has become my daily companion. It might just be the perfect Rolex. The Explorer is durable, accurate and doesn’t get in your way. The design is timeless and blends in perfectly. People don’t associate the brand Rolex with this inconspicuous watch. This Ref. 114270 is for me the ultimate Oyster Professional model in the history of the company.