WATCHES THAT STAND THE TEST OF TIME
Folks who really know their watches fall into two categories: those who respect Rolex, and those who love the brand. The haters? They tend to be the dilettantes and dabblers who try the "watch thing," run out of attention span, and leapfrog to the next expensive distraction. The Rolex Explorer 114270 is a watch for men who know the meaning of commitment. Posh-watch prejudice of noobs aside, true Rolex heritage is steeped in the blood, sweat... and more sweat of Hard Men (no tears; Hard Men don't cry). The Explorer 114270 represents the distilled essence of what makes Rolex authentically butch and the polar opposite of an effete evening accessory. Originally created to honor the exploits of Mt. Everest conquerors Tenzing Norgay – who wore his Rolex to the summit – and Sir Edmund Hillary, the 1953 Rolex Explorer was the first of a long line of Rolex utility watches designed to go into harm's way. Shortly thereafter, Rolex launched the Submariner (beloved of international military customers), the GMT Master (designed expressly for Pan Am pilots), the 6234 "Pre-Daytona" (for racing drivers), and the Milgauss (for scientists and engineers). By the time Sean Connnery donned a Submariner ref 6538 in 1962's Dr. No, the Rolex seemed a logical extension of his hard-bitten 007 persona. While the general public may not grasp the depth of Rolex's hardcore heritage, even the proverbial "man on the street" understands that the brand stands with Rolls-Royce as a synonym for quality. And in this Explorer, Rolex delivers. The Geneva watchmaker ranks among the exclusive club of true manufactures that fabricate virtually every part of their watches. The 36mm stainless steel case itself is a testament to Rolex's eye for detail. The difference starts with the steel itself; Rolex makes its own at the company's in-house foundry. But the stainless employed on the Explorer is of the 904L variety, not the 316L employed by the majority of Swiss watchmakers. 904L is more expensive to produce, harder to work, and requires a greater up-front investment, but the payoff continues for the watch's lifetime. Rolex steel preserves the finish of polished and brushed facets with greater resilience than the 316L variety, and the material's resistance to corrosion is higher than conventional stainless. While all luxury watchmakers claim to produce "stainless" steel watches, a cursory inspection of eBay offerings will put paid to that notion. Rolex builds its watches for the long haul, and this Explorer will remain brushed, polished, and "stainless" long after lesser counterparts have fallen victim to the slings and arrows of a life on the wrist. Inside the case, a Rolex Cal. 3130 chronometer-grade movement beats away at 28,800 vibrations per hour. As with the case and bracelet, the movement is Rolex's own, and it has been submitted to the scrutiny of the COSC two-week chronometer certification process. The COSC trial, which involves extended evaluation of the movement in different positions and varying temperature, is another measure Rolex employs to assure added value and quality for the end user. Rolex is, by far, the most prolific manufacturer of chronometer-grade mechanical movements in Switzerland, and the gap to second place amounts to hundreds of thousands of movements. Nobody comes close. While other watchmakers have followed Rolex's lead in COSC submissions, Rolex has maintained its qualitative edge by re-testing the movements to COSC specs after final assembly (COSC tests examine only a bare movement). More than any other aspect of this watch, the dial is its calling card. Explorer dials are iconic. Three Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock combine with a triangular index at 12 and intermediate stick indexes to announce this watch as Rolex royalty. 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 radiant gloss backdrop to the fireworks of the white gold. Among collectors and general public alike, the Rolex Explorer dial declares a pedigree that's second to none. Any Rolex model can claim some degree of relation to the company's all-time greats, but a handful of contemporary references represent unbroken links to immortal companions of the hardest of hard men. The Explorer ranks among the latter. Now available from WatchBox in like-new physical condition, the Rolex Explorer 114270 represents outstanding value and the ideal point of entry to Rolex ownership. Whether as a graduation gift, a first Rolex, or an essential addition to any canonical collection of Rolex models, the Explorer is a perfect fit. And if you must wear it to the opera, the Explorer is equally at home. If there's one lesson to be gleaned from history, it's that a Rolex Explorer can excel anywhere... Video and content by Tim Mosso.