im sympathetic to those who have picked up a Rolex Explorer I 214270. Beyond those who “got it” simply because they, understandably, fell for its handsome looks, there are also those super-thoughtful Explorer I customers who have done a fair bit of research before buying their first (or next) Rolex. They have looked at the Submariner and Submariner Date, as well as the Oyster Perpetual, the two collections that flank the Explorer I both price- and feature-wise. I can relate to those who end up with the Explorer I 214270, but I am, nevertheless, not quite sure that this is the watch I’d purchase, were I shopping for an affordable Rolex today.
You’ll find cyclops fans, maxi-case haters, Cerachrom ceramic Rolex Explorer Oyster 39 mm Oystersteel 214270 bezel naysayers and believers, OP (that’s Oyster Perpetual for us mortals) value proposition preachers, fact sheet comparers, and the list goes on and on. I could fill an entire article, or perhaps a whole book, with the psychological struggles one experiences when looking for the best Rolex watch to put hard-earned money into.
I’ll add that, fortunately, value retention is pretty stellar with steel Rolex watches these days, so even if you realize your choice wasn’t the right one for you, chances are you can get out of it having not lost more than a few hundred bucks. But the goal here is to help you figure out whether or not the Rolex Explorer I 214270 is the watch for you.
The Rolex Explorer I 214270 is, essentially, a mix of the Oyster Perpetual 39 and the Submariner “No Date” in terms of case, bezel, dial, bracelet, and movement. This neatly leads us to the point I began with, that in terms of both price and features, many think they will end up with the best of both worlds if they go with the Explorer I.
It essentially has the 39mm Oystersteel monobloc middle-case of the OP with a profile that is slightly more curvaceous than the flat, trapezoid profile of the 40mm Oystersteel Submariner. The bezel of the Explorer I is different on each: The OP has a domed, high-polish bezel, while the Explorer I has what Rolex calls a “Smooth” bezel; it is just as nicely polished, but has a flat surface, rather than the convex bezel of the OP. There is no Cerachrom anywhere on the Explorer I, which means you’ll certainly end up with at least some swirls on your steel bezel, but you’re definitely exempt from the fear of cracking your Cerachrom bezel insert. Water resistance in the Explorer I is a perfectly ample 100 meters, as opposed to the 300-meter rating of the Submariner. As I am sure you have already noticed, this really is going to be a game of trade-offs.
The movement inside the Rolex Explorer I 214270 is the Rolex Caliber 3132, the same as in the Oyster Perpetual 39. The only main difference I can find between this and the 3130 in the Submariner “No Date” is that the Explorer and OP both have the “high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers,” while, strangely, the Submariner, with its professional diver’s watch pedigree, does not. You’ll see the Rolex Explorer’s Paraflex shock absorber on the image below. While they all, like every Rolex watch made today, come with the Superlative Chronometer -2/+2 second daily accuracy rating and 5-year international warranty, the OP, Explorer I and Submariner all have 48 hours of power reserve, much less than the 70+ hour extended power reserve that is present with the new-generation Rolex movements dubbed 32xx. More on this in a bit.
The dial of the Rolex Explorer I 214270 now features the blue Chromalight display — essentially BGW9 luminescent material, the sort that lasts longer than the much more common Super-LumiNova C3, but isn’t quite as bright right after it’s been charged with a powerful light source. I much prefer the long-lasting blue hue of Chromalight to the temporary light show of the Super-LumiNova, as seen on Panerais and others.