Velociphile's Journey into Watches

Adhoc stuff about wristwatches. The technology of horology, escapements and patents to the industry and the market. Try me in Japanese or Chinese

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Rolex Explorer 114270

It seems that because I wrote this and this, some people seem to think that I hate Rolex. It may well be true that I don't like an awful lot of the watches they make, nor the unfortunate impression and reactions they may create but, in fact, look below and you'll see mine - a 114270.

Velociphile's Explorer runs an unbelievable +0 s/d on the wrist
with enough leeway in other positions to correct it here or there overnight

The iconic Explorer is one of the simplest and classic pieces to fall out of the search for an elegant and understated Rolex. Now that Rolex no longer allow ordering specials without the bugly cyclops, the options are even more limited unless you're adept with a chisel (it can be done by the way). Actually I'd find quite a use for a GMT II, but not with that wart-tastic excrescence of a solution to a non problem thanks.

If I could improve the Explorer, I'd add a stainless version of the old style understated turnograph bezel (not the new turnograph style one that looks like an upturned jam tart case, but the old one) showing 24 hr and elapsed time - subdued but real world useful without the in your face Submariner attitude. Oh, and add a GMT hand. Kind of a no-date Explorer 2 but with a rotating bezel - get the picture? Actually a silver bezel GMT II with no cyclops is pretty close....

Now someone correct me if I'm wrong (I'm certainly no Rolex expert) but, I think the 114270 is the only non-date chronometer watch in Rolex's range but for the Daytona, and the only non cyclops version that's not a gauche sports version.

Upgraded a few years ago, the Explorer now sports the full benefits of a freesprung adjustable mass balance with Breguet overcoil and balance bridge in the form of arguably the most accurate movement Rolex make - the calibre 3130. So far I've been mighty impressed by its timing.

Despite reflective hands, it's readable in a nanosecond because the hour and minute hands are subtly and cleverly curved and filled with great luminosity. It may only be 36mm diameter on paper, but it wears a lot bigger than that and certainly doesn't feel small even after wearing 40+s, but is thin enough to slip under your cuffs and is no hockey puck heft.

The bracelet is a doddle to adjust yourself with a 1.6 mm screwdriver and a spot of Loctite 243 ensures security even in salt water. Critics of the pressed steel clasp I can understand, but it works fine and the whole bracelet complies with the wrist perfectly and without being too heavy nor having the bulk or discomfort of some more complex clasps.

Finally, having handled the disappointingly sloppy setting AP Royal Oak 15300 recently, it is a joy to return to the creamy, precise and slack free setting feel of this hacking movement's crown. In the words of Goldilocks, "It's just right."


  • At September 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sorry if this has been said here before …

    I have to give Rolex props for creating and maintaining such strong loyalties and, well whatever the opposite of loyalties are. IMHO, there are more folks at the extremes (like/dislike) with this brand than nearly any other. Personally, I fall somewhere in here

    Cheers and please keep up the great work!


  • At September 19, 2006, Blogger KronosClub said…

    Personally I have nothing against Rolex, actually I believe that there are few out there that give more "bang for the buck" than them.

    My problem with Rolex is not that people buy them, but rather the reason why people buy them. You can be certain that 99% of Rolex owner have no clue and could not care less what is behind Rolex. Their only motif for purchase is that it's a status symbol. That bothers me a lot I must admit...I guess that this is the reason why Rolexes are not a favorite amongst many anymore

  • At September 19, 2006, Blogger Velociphile said…

    Shawn, Thanks for pointing that out. That is one funny post. I honestly did not see that before writing about Strawberry Yoghurt Syndrome.

    Dario, Exactly.... Breguet oversprung freecoil whatsit?


  • At October 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A friend taught me that it was a good thing to have a really nice watch, and though they were expensive, really expensive by Seiko and Movado standards, pride of ownership would make it all worthwhile.

    I bought my first serious watch in 1991, a Breitling Aerospace (at that time they called it a Navitimer). I thought I wanted a Rolex, but I was so impressed with the then new Aerospace dial, display and titanium case that Rolex just did not get my attention that day.

    Since then I bought another eight really nice watches over the years and enjoy them all. I always wanted a Rolex of some sort but never could bring myself to actually buy one. Too gaudy, too common, too expensive, and that awful Cyclops kept me away from the brand.

    Recently I started looking again at Rolexes trying to find one I would want to buy. Since they rarely add a new model as opposed to Breitling, nothing much had changed in the last few years. But there was one model that caught my eye, the Explorer I. I felt about it exactly as does Velociphile, exactly. That was a great description of what this watch has to offer. It is an understated, elegant machine. No cyclops, no date, no oversized chunk of metal, no complications, no rotating bezel. And a great model history, created in 1953, the year of my birth, and in continuous production since then, the only production run that long at Rolex (so I heard).

    So last month, on 9/30, the day before Rolex’s last price increase, after a lot of hemming and hawing, my lovely girlfriend offered to buy me an Explorer I (114270) and did.

    I did not know about the upgrade to the movement but I can attest to the remarkable accuracy of the movement. As an example, I set my Explorer to UTC four days ago and it is now running four seconds fast. I always heard Rolexes were poor time keepers, typically losing/gaining 3-5 minutes a month. Several friends have told me theirs performed in that range. Well not this Explorer, I just hope as it breaks in it maintains the rate.

    My wish list: a) Replace the clasp with a spring loaded latching device rather than a pull-your-fingernail-off catch. And level it down to bracelet thickness rather that have it be a fat protrusion. b) Make the excessively long hinge pieces which make up the folded assembly shorter to prevent it from sticking out from under the clasp preventing the links from curving around the wrist. c) I wish the crown had a small set of ramps (not big like the Explorer II) guarding it from impacts. Other than that, I think the Explorer I is the best looking timepiece Rolex makes.


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