Rolex Explorer 14270- Facts You Need To Know

November 30th, 2021

Watch buyers these days are always looking out for timepieces that are either vintage or too new, but what about the humble ones that tend to go unnoticed? Well, honestly, there’s a vast catalogue of such under-appreciated watch pieces that deserve a taste of the spotlight. One such notable watch is the Rolex Explorer 14270. It is a simply executed watch which is the reason why people fail to acknowledge more than often. So, today we have decided to honk horns on this sleeping giant as it celebrates its 30th anniversary, shall we?

None of the Rolex timepieces needs an introduction, but let’s give it anyway. To start with, Explorer resonates with Exploration (not so surprising). Enough of hint-giving, here we are going to discuss everything about the model in detail.

Sit tight as we take you through the Adventurous journey of the Rolex Explorer.

Brief History

The 1950s was an exciting period in the history of Rolex, which marked the release of most of the brand’s sports watch collections. And, all of it started in 1953 after Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary reached the summit of Mount Everest. Apart from achieving such a feat, another thing that made headlines was that one of the males had a Rolex Oyster tied to their wrist. Was it just a coincidence? Perhaps, it is not.

The luxury brand arranged for it to showcase the sturdiness of the Oyster case. Soon enough, Rolex launched the Oyster Perpetual Explorer. Did you know that the Rolex Explorer is Rolex’s first actual sports watch?

Post the launch of the Explorer, several editions has hit the market, including the references 6150, 6350 and 6610. However, one thing that has remained constant is that the timepiece comes with three hands (an hour hand, a minute hand, a second hand). But it was the launch of reference 1016 in 1963 that changed the face of Explorer forever. It became one of the most iconic Rolex Explorers of all time. The production of this variant spanned for over thirty years. This brings us to the following variant- Rolex Explorer 14270.

Enter the Rolex Explorer 14270

Can you even believe that this watch had put Rolex at the division of luxury and sports? But in reality, it is the watch that strikes the perfect balance between richness and functionality. It comes with various upgraded features and luxurious details than the Ref. 1016 but is also not fully in-modern, making it iconic as ever!

Let’s check out some of its most notable specifications.

  1. The Fit

The Ref. 14270 sports a shiny black dial with white gold marks surrounding the lume indices. The watch, however, stays true to the Original Explorer’s 36mm case diameter. The thickness sits at 11mm, and the lug measures 43.5mm, making for the perfect compact case. It might sound to be too small, but it is the one that doesn’t disappear on the wrist, instead stands out.

The smooth bezel, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and the absence of crown guards are what make Ref.14270 appear increasingly elegant. Thanks to the water-resistance of up to 330feet, you can wear the watch comfortable during swimming.

  1. Movement

It is only apparent that Rolex is going to improve the movement with 14270. And, finally, it happened with the release of the in-house Automatic Caliber 3000. It has a 42-hour power reserve, beats at a high 28,800bph, and will happily spend time in your watch box overnight. During that era, the Caliber 3000 was a relatively high-functioning movement. Overall, simplicity drives the structure of the Explorer 14270 as it sports a robust movement and has an oversized design.

  1. Bracelet

All the versions of the 14270 variant come with a solid-link steel bracelet (Ref 78790) with folded links (Ref 558B) and a regular stamped clasp. The Rolex Explorer 14270 comes in three bracelet types:

3 Clasps Types Are:

  • Single Oyster Clasp

There is a rectangular clap with oyster stamped in the centre. The single Oyster clasp is the most-used style in the Rolex saga.

  • Heavy-Duty Diver Clasp

The oyster bracelet link is thicker and longer clasps embossed with a double clasp and a built-in diver’s extension.

  • Oyster Flip-Lock Clasp

There are thinner and smaller clasps which make the watch much more secure on the wrist. The modern Rolex’s sports watch sports this kind of clasp style.

  1. Dial

When it comes to the dial section, no one, when we say it, absolutely no one did or has done the best like the Rolex Explorer. The enamelled black dial is Explorer’s signature feature where the 3, 6, and 9 Arabic numerals appear large and pure.

During the initial years, the Explorer 14270 came with indices filled with tritium lume, but in the late 1990s, it shifted to Luminova (thank god for that). It was technically superior.


No detail or upgrade is too small or sneaky to be missed by the Rolex enthusiasts. Be it a slight change on the bezel or any other micro-millimetre modification; nothing goes unnoticed. The reason why the Explorer quickly piqued the interest of everyone was because of the Arabic numerals. Surprisingly the first batch that left the factory sported 3/6/9 Arabic numerals filled with black enamel. Hence, the name ‘BLACKOUT’. This is primarily available for the serial series E or X.

In 1991, it quickly swapped with white gold Arabic numerals, meaning that the All-Black production was only for a limited period. Well, good luck if you start looking out for one!

During its entire course of production, the Rolex Explorer 14270 featured in four different dials, they are:

  • 1980-1991: The Blackout dial with black enamel Arabic numerals & Tritium Lume
  • 1991-1998: T-Swiss dial with Tritium Lume
  • 1998-1999: Swiss-only dial with Luminova Lume
  • 1999-2001: Swiss-Made Dial with Super-Luminova Lume

Remember that in the case of 14270, it is the dial where you see the maximum variation. Since we have already discussed the Blackout period, let’s get going with the others.

T-Swiss (1991-1998)

This is perhaps the longest-running variant of the Ref.14270 that comes with white-paint numerals, tritium lume, and a shiny black dial. This variant captures the most authentic essence of the 14270 and comes in the E and U series. Few hallmarks of this watch include:

  • Typical Rolex Serif design
  • White text
  • White paint-filled numerals
  • ‘T<25’ written beneath 6 o’clock

Swiss-Only (1998-1999)

This is the transitional variant in the 14270 trail. The Swiss-only dial represents the stark shift from Tritium to LumiNova and has the shortest run in the Rolex mythology. It comes in the U and A series. Few hallmarks of this watch include:

  • Plain lugs
  • No drilled lug holes
  • 78790 flip-lock clasp

Swiss-Made (1999-2001)

The final stop in the trail of the Ref.14270 comes with the Swiss-Made dial style. This variant features the Super-LumiNova-filled lume and, in many ways, features everything that must be present in a modern Rolex sports timepiece. It comes in the A and P series. Few hallmarks of this watch are;

  • Secure clasp system
  • Plain lugs
  • Use of solid end links

Why do people love it?

There could be many answers to that. Also, many do not agree with it and find the Explorer range unpopular. However, the Explorer is still a much-appreciated timepiece amongst luxury watch buyers or collectors. The reason for this is its rich history. The critical event that shaped the life of Explorer when Sir Edmund Hillary wore it to Mt. Everest is what makes it so fascinating and desirable.

In many ways, Ref.14270 has been under-valued, but certainly, it doesn’t need an expert to spot the consistency of this model since inception.


Timeless, elegant, long-lasting and classic are the adjectives that define the Rolex Explorer 14270 the best. The watch’s historical significance, the built-in design and purpose make it an instant favourite amongst many watch collectors. There are so many variations and up-gradations within a single reference that it makes it even more intriguing. This is the reason why the price of the Ref.14270 keeps increasing every year.