Rolex Explorer 14270.The Rolex Explorer, as an entire line, certainly needs no introduction, but let's give it one anyway. Historically speaking, it embodies the brand's gift for myth-making and marketing. It was the 1953 Mt. Everest expedition which led to its creation. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay took with them a white Rolex Oyster Perpetual as they ascended Everest's peak, a notoriously onerous and life-risking undertaking. Of course, the inclusion of a Rolex watch on that trip was not happenstance, but rather a purposeful branding exercise by Rolex to show just what the Oyster case was capable of. The white Rolex Oyster Perpetual Superlative Chronometer not only partook in the adventure, but returned home to tell the tale – which it has done for nearly 70 years since.
This masterclass in brand building by Rolex resulted in the creation of a 36mm watch, similar in essence to the watch which summited Everest, but bearing the now-iconic name, "Explorer." It was also in 1953 that the Explorer reference 6350 was released. While not technicallythe first Explorer, it is the first to feature the Explorer name on the dial. Featuring Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9, a 36mm case size, and black dial, this watch was the foundation for the Explorer design language going forward. The 6350 has become known as the "honeycomb" due to the dial pattern which looks – you guessed it – like a honeycomb. This is an exceedingly rare watch, as it was produced for just about one year, and concurrently with its predecessor, the 6150. The 6150, and 6350 were succeeded by the 6610. That watch sported a matte black dial, gilt numerals, and a very familiar dial layout. The 6610 was the precursor to the longstanding 1016 which was then released in 1963. The 1016 lived a long enough production life – 27 years to be exact – to see a host of variations on its overall design.
From the Albino dial, to the Space-Dweller, the stretch bracelet, the gilt underline, and the solid link bracelet, each one of these variations represents the elements that make watch collecting so endlessly fascinating.The Explorer 14270 represents something entirely unique. It truly is the first modern Rolex. White-gold surrounds, gloss dial, sapphire crystal; these are all current staple traits of modern Rolex tool watches which effectively debuted with this very watch back in 1989. It was J.R.R. Tolkien who wrote that "moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars." In this case, the Explorer 14270 may well be out of sight and mind, but it's simply too bright a star to be ignored. It is a testament to Rolex's fearlessness in shaking up the design of a core piece in its collection. Moving from the 1016 to 14270, the brand took a risk but also followed the playbook which has kept it on top all of these years.
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