Rolex Explorer I 'Swiss Only'
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Rolex Explorer I 'Swiss Only'

Why We Love It

In 2011, Rolex did something a bit... controversial.

They fundamentally changed the design of the Oyster Perpetual Explorer I - the watch that defined general badassery for the brand for some five decades prior.  In its newest version of the Explorer, Rolex has departed from the classic 36mm case design, deciding instead that bigger was better, and housed their in-house 3132 movement in 39mm of steel.  

The move intrigued some and confused others. We understood it when they switched from matte dials to glossy ones.  We could find some elegance in the presence of white-gold hour marker surrounds.  But altering the case dimensions was tantamount to heresy in our books.

But to our chagrin (and the chagrin of many vintage Rolex enthusiasts) the line was forever altered - and many folks continue to buy and love the Explorer 1's bigger brother to this day. However, when we see earlier executions that herald the original design, such as this lovely Reference 14270, we jump at the chance to find them a good home.

But of course we wouldn't settle for just any 14270.

This particular example is considered a transitional model, and features the desirable 'Swiss Only' dial produced for under two years. Indicating a switch away from Tritium to Luminova luminous material, the 'Swiss Only' moniker has proven incredibly popular to a number of desirable sports Rolexes in the past few years, and has resulted in significant premiums.

The 14270, however, has only begun to stir in its pricing. Representing the first model to feature Rolexes "new" design language, its avant-garde dial design was polarizing at first, as 1016-obsessed purists poo-pooed their shiny dials and fancy markers. But today, special 14270s, such as this Swiss Only example, are beginning to be snatched up by forward looking collectors who appreciate not only their size and story, but the chance to get in on the ground level for the next big thing.

 

The Story

With its feet firmly rooted in the classic design of the early Explorers - a simple black dial with 3, 6, 9 Arabic numerals -- albeit a more avant-garde approach to the look --and 36mm Oyster case, the 14270 is every bit as much an Explorer as the original models that pulled their own weight up Everest.

The day was May 29, 1953, and Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay stood on top of the world. Rolex had indeed come with them to the summit of Mount Everest and since then Rolex has long been known as the watch of exploration. The triumph of the 1953 expedition and spirit of adventure and exploration that the Explorer represents can certainly be felt when this watch is strapped to your wrist.

These were watches designed to be tough as nails and capable of operating effectively in the harshest conditions known to man. Whether it was diving to the lowest point or climbing to the highest, you've got to hand it to Rolex - they know how to build one hell of a sports watch! It really doesn't get more badass than that.

Details

SKU: AS03510

Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 36mm (excluding the crown). Rolex Reference 14270. Circa 1999.

Overall Condition: The case is in fantastic condition overall showing signs of a professional polish. Luminous gloss black dial is in excellent condition overall with applied indices and matching handset. Signed crown.

Includes stainless steel Oyster Bracelet (78790/558B) with signed flip-lock clasp.

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