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Sit down and have a serious chat with any candid Rolex collector and they’ll agree—there are few watches that capture true Rolex spirit like a 36mm Explorer I. In an age where you’ll find chunky 46mm+ watches to be the norm, there’s something inherently charming about daydreaming over the smaller, undeniably influential watches of the past.


When looking back at the Explorer, that watch would undoubtedly be the reference 1016. Not only was this model birthed from a prototype that trekked along with the most legendary Mt. Everest adventurer in history, it also sparked the inspiration for a watch worn by a certain British spy we all know and love.

These days it can be difficult to find a 1016 or 6610 Explorer in premium condition. They command a serious price tag and they’ve often been polished to death or crammed with unoriginal parts. Lucky for us, there’s a slightly more modern reference that captures that vintage charm with a few modern refinements—the Rolex Explorer reference 14270.

The Rolex Explorer 14270 was introduced in 1989 and was meant to serve as the direct successor to the reference 1016. No pressure right? While it retained the essence of the original Explorer, it featured newer upgrades like a sapphire crystal, lacquered dial, applied indices, and a modern high beat movement; the Rolex calibre 3000.

Although Rolex did a great job at preserving the essential Explorer DNA, this pushed the watch slightly out of the tool watch range and deeper into the luxury realm. Other refinements like the applied white gold surrounds hugging the indices, made the watch a bit dressier and way more versatile.


Make no mistake. As classy as the piece is, it works just as well on a mountain hike as it does in the office. Additionally, this reference retains the iconic 3-6-9 dial layout that the Explorer is famous for, paired with a traditional, yet beefy 36mm case. The size may be an issue for some but at 36mm but I find it to be perfectly balanced. Top it off with a dash of old-school Tritium and it’s about as pure Rolex as you can get.

It’s that kind of subtle nature that allows you to dress up the watch if you need to or wear it casually on a daily basis. With the added presence that the applied markers add to the piece, it’s a watch that just pops every time you look down at it.

The Rolex calibre 3000 is an automatic, 27 jewel movement that features both hacking and hand winding. It runs at 28,000 bph and can be easily controlled with the simple screw down crown. Though no longer produced, the calibre 3000 is accurate, easily serviceable, and exceedingly reliable. Exactly what you need in what could proudly serve as your one and only Rolex. With little to no effort, it can easily outlive its wearer several times over.

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So does the reference 14270 live up to the glory of its predecessors? It’s hard to say. But for now, this is certainly a watch that can serve as a fine addition to even the most esoteric collections. The durable sapphire crystal, 100-meter water resistance, and timeless proportions make for a watch that does exactly what you need it to do—endure. Dress it up with a suit or put it through its paces with rigorous daily wear. The choice is yours and the Explorer is always up to the challenge.

At Gray & Sons, we offer one of the finest selections of pre-owned luxury watches anywhere. Our team of world famous master watchmakers ensures that every piece is meticulously inspected, serviced, and above all 100% authentic. Anything less is simply unacceptable.

To learn more about this Explorer 14270, the Gray & Sons selection, our in-house warranty, and our “Like New For Life” policy, visit

Gray & Sons accepts luxury consignment of name brand fine Swiss watches, as well as pens, sterling silver flatware, tea sets, and name brand jewelry including David Yurman, Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Boucheron, Graff, Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, and diamonds over 1.00 carat.