March 14, 20245 min Read

The Reference: Rolex Explorer • 14270

By Niclas Berglund

Bezl meets Aleksandar Mladenovic, known as AleksWatches on Instagram, a distinguished figure in the watch community with profound knowledge and a special eye for vintage timepieces. As a driving force behind Stories of Time, a premier retailer of pre-owned watches based in Stockholm, Aleksandar has cultivated a reputation for excellence with clients from around the globe seeking his expertise.

This is a collaboration between Bezl Magazine and EQOTIME. The article is available in Swedish on EQOTIME – read it here.

I reached Aleksandar in a snow-covered Stockholm to talk about this classic from Rolex, specifically the Explorer model. During our conversation, he shared his extensive knowledge and passion for this iconic watch, which is a favorite among many collectors and adventurers worldwide.

Rolex, an icon in the world of luxury watches, is a brand that symbolizes achievement and reliability. The Swiss watch brand is renowned for its uncompromising quality and commitment to innovation, which is reflected in every watch they manufacture. Rolex watches are known for their robust durability, elegant design, and technical precision, characteristics that make them a preferred companion for both adventurers and business professionals around the world.

What can you tell Bezl’s readers about the historical significance of the Rolex Explorer 1 and its connection to adventure?

– In my view, the Rolex Explorer is one of the most underrated models in the Rolex lineup, while simultaneously being a perfect watch from many perspectives. It’s understated, robust, and versatile.

In the early 1950s, Rolex developed watches that could withstand great temperature differences and equipped adventurers who were going to climb Mt. Everest with “Oyster” watches. After Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay succeeded in the feat, shortly thereafter the Rolex model “Explorer” was born with the iconic dial layout with the Arabic numbers 3-6-9.

Rolex launched reference 1016 in 1959, and it is the reference that Rolex has produced for the longest time ever, until 1989. A testament to it being the ultimate sports watch, perhaps?

In 1989, it was time to upgrade the series, including new movements and dials, and today’s modern Explorer does not differ much from the model introduced in 1989.

The Explorer 14270: Where Rolex’s craftsmanship meets the spirit of exploration, capturing the essence of both tradition and innovation.

With its iconic 3-6-9 dial, the Rolex Explorer 14270 merges form with function in a display of pure horological artistry.

Explorer has come in several different sizes, 36mm 39mm, and most recently 40mm. Which size does the model justice according to you?

– As somewhat of a conservative person with smaller wrists, there’s no doubt that 36mm is the size I advocate for. Whether you have larger or smaller wrists, I think an Explorer should be 36mm.

Then, of course, I understand those who think it’s too small and opt for the larger ones at 39/40mm because they want the same aesthetic in a larger package. But based on proportions and looking at history, I would never choose any other size than 36mm.

In this article, we see reference 14270, how has the design of the Rolex Explorer 1 evolved since it was first introduced in 1953 with reference 6350?

– Quite a lot but at the same time quite little. Reference 6350, which was the first to bear “Explorer” on the dial, had a “honeycomb” pattern with “gilt” indices, text, and hands. Reference 1016 looks essentially like 6350 but with a slightly more stripped-down appearance, yet the font on the numbers is very similar.

With 14270, we have in all ways a much more modern watch in appearance, indices, and hands with a white gold frame, white luminous material (which in some cases has yellowed if it is tritium), and much larger and more modern fonts on “3-6-9”.

The red line is clear and is also what Rolex is known for; they seldom reinvent the wheel but just refine their own models and upgrade them with modern technology.

Embrace the legacy of exploration with the Rolex Explorer 14270, a watch that proves true elegance is timeless.

Rolex Explorer reference 14270. Time-only display with hours, minutes, and seconds.

Rolex Explorer, highly legible dial design, optimized for readability under various conditions.

What has given this model the iconic status it has today?

– Obviously, the connection to Mt. Everest and the famous adventurers who wore it. But then, Explorer was a natural choice for many celebrities during the 90s and 00s, e.g., Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Orlando Bloom, & Ellen Degeneres all have in common that they sported a Rolex Explorer.

How important is this model for Rolex?

– Extremely important. It’s one of the most important, though not as iconic as, for example, the Submariner and Daytona. The history speaks for itself, and it is actually one of the models people who don’t really like Rolex often can imagine wearing if they were to choose a Rolex. It is very “unique” in its design compared to many other watches Rolex has produced.

Which are the most sought-after versions of the Rolex Explorer 1 on the collector’s market?

– Obviously, the very earliest commands a high price tag as usual. But even well-preserved and fine examples of reference 1016 can reach high heights (no pun intended). When it comes to the more modern ones, the “Blackout” versions of reference 14270 are very sought after among collectors. These were only produced for a short period of about 2 years between 1989 and 1991.

The reference 14270 introduced the modern aesthetic to the Explorer line, replacing the acrylic crystal with a more durable sapphire crystal.

The iconic Rolex Oyster clasp represents a hallmark of the brand’s commitment to durability, security, and comfort.

A beautiful aged patina is often seen as a value-increasing factor – why does this phenomenon appeal to collectors around the world?

– Patina is not for everyone, but in general, it’s a value-increasing factor. The fact that no two watches age the same enhances the feeling that one possesses something a bit more unique.

For me, who prefers vintage overall, there’s no doubt that if I were to get a Rolex Explorer, it would probably be a 14270 (unless the budget stretches to a nice 1016). In my eyes, you then get a perfect combination of the new, modern but with the aesthetics that come with an older Rolex, i.e., yellowed indices and hands since these have tritium as luminous material.

If you are buying your first Explorer 1, what would you advise Bezl’s readers to consider?

– As always, I am an advocate that one should choose condition over accessories. Box and certificate you don’t wear on your wrist anyway.

Think through a little what you are looking for when choosing an Explorer, there are so many variants. From early versions of 14270 with the “old” clasp and tritium, to newer versions with solid end links and superluminova and “rehaut”.

The Rolex Explorer 14270, where the ruggedness of the mountains meets the elegance of craftsmanship, creating a masterpiece of time.

Rolex Explorer 14270 was in Production between the years 1989-2001.

Lastly, what watch are you wearing today?

– Today, I’m actually wearing an Explorer 14270, T-series from 1996, believe it or not!

Thank you, Aleksandar Mladenovic, for your time and for sharing your expertise on this model.

Crafted for the bold and the brave, the Explorer 14270 embodies Rolex’s commitment to excellence in every detail.

The Rolex Explorer 14270 showcases its versatility and timeless elegance, here elegantly paired with a leather strap, proving it’s a stunning piece in any variation

A watch that wears its history proudly, the Rolex Explorer 14270 continues to inspire adventurers and collectors alike.

In Conclusion

My journey in the world of watches has been both long and filled with passion, but one model that holds a special place in my heart is the Rolex Explorer ref. 14270. This watch, which I have proudly owned for nearly a decade, was one of the first I purchased from the brand. Its beauty lies in its simplicity – a true classic that withstands the test of time. I fully understand why it has become an icon; even today, I cannot help but admire its sporty elegance and simple beauty.

The Explorer ref. 14270 represents the essence of Rolex – its ability to combine form and function in a design that feels as natural in the wilderness as in a formal setting. The watch’s balance between adventure and sophistication reminds us why Rolex continues to be a leader in luxury watches. Its discreet charm and robust construction make it the ultimate companion through all of life’s adventures.

The 14270 has shown me that true beauty often lies in simplicity. As Aleksandar mentions in the interview, “With 14270 you get a perfect combination of the new, modern but with the aesthetics that come with an older Rolex” – to me, a physical proof that classic design values will always stand the test of time. The Explorer 14270, reminds me of why I began collecting watches in the first place ⏱

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🎥 See the trailer with the Rolex Exlorer 14270.