Let me begin by saying that I’ve by no means worshipped on the “Inexperienced ‘n’ Gold” Rolex altar. Relating to the topic of Rolex and its celebrated, if typically wildly polarizing timepieces, I’m neither fanboy nor hater. I’m as unwaveringly impartial because the nation from which the model hails.
I detest the large secondary market premiums, snooty approved sellers, and multi-generational ready lists which have grow to be a crucial — and, sadly, broadly accepted — evil. (Full disclosure: I as soon as wrote a satirical piece a couple of not-too-distant future the place Rolex boutiques supply to cryogenically freeze their shoppers whereas ready for that new chrome steel, ceramic Daytona to grow to be obtainable.)
Likewise, I equally frown upon YouTube pundits who appear to pay the payments nearly completely by posting movies explaining why their watch of the week — normally some Kickstarter micro-brand — is “Higher than a ROLEX!” (Gotta make rattling certain to incorporate that phrase “ROLEX” within the title if you happen to anticipate to get any clicks!) There’s one speaking head (palms) specifically who’d have you ever imagine the $100 Timex he’s chosen to overview “DESTROYS Rolex” … and did ya know Timex is definitely older than Rolex??? (Take THAT, Mr. Wilsdorf!)
Let me supply a little bit of free authorized recommendation. Should you ever end up searching for to cop an madness plea after being charged with feeding your roommate’s bulleted riddled corpse via a woodchipper (the exact same roommate who stubbornly refused to elevate the bathroom seat earlier than going #1), give the “Rolex Protection” a shot. Merely look the choose squarely within the eye and inform him that your $100 recycled plastic Timex “DESTROYS” his 40 mm platinum, glacier dial Day-Date. That’ll get ya carted off to the looney bin faster than Charlie Manson claiming to be the newly reincarnated 14th Dalai Lama.
However simply why, you may ask, did I purchase a Rolex? Let me see if I can break it down for you …
Rolex Air-King “Bloodhound” Ref. 116900
The Air-King reference 116900 has all the time been my favourite chrome steel 40 mm Rolex. There … I mentioned it! Is it a sports activities watch? A software watch? Nobody appears to know. With its fakakte hypersonic land car dashboard instrument-inspired dial that includes Arabic numerals counting down from 5 – 55 (in fabulous speedometer font), additional confused by the slap-dash addition of enormous, white gold appliques at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, it additionally boasts the one identified instance of the Rolex coronet and emblem showing in vivid yellow and inexperienced.
My favourite contact of all: the tiny, stylized “Air-King” emblem which strikes me as extra befitting a Fifties kitchen equipment than a dear Swiss luxurious watch.
Regardless of what may strike some as a somewhat eclectic jumble of disparate parts, the Air-King’s dial is refreshingly legible. Even with my faltering, middle-aged imaginative and prescient, it’s one of many few watches in my assortment that doesn’t require donning a pair of studying glasses to verify the time.
The Air-King is daring. Brash. It doesn’t apologize for its strangeness — Nay! It owns it … revels in it! The “Crimson-Headed Stepchild” of all Rolex chrome steel choices, it’s a watch that nearly dares you to adore it … and I do!!! It’s a timepiece that actually speaks to the insurgent – the iconoclast — I’ve all the time fancied myself to be. A Rolex that posits the age-old query, “Why be everybody’s cup of tea, if you happen to could be somebody’s shot of tequila?”
Take a more in-depth take a look at its case. Not the blocky, “Tremendous Case” of the marque’s extra common Subs and GMTs – however a swish, nearly sensuous sculpt of fluid curves (suppose Daytona and Date-Simply). As tactilely pleasing to the contact as it’s to the attention (sadly, the present Air-King’s case has shed these interesting curves).
The extra thickness essential to accommodate the tender iron cage initially used to thwart the movement-discombobulating gremlins created by magnetic fields offers the piece a heft and wrist presence as spectacular (if no more so) than any of its 40 mm siblings – and with out ever succumbing to the dreaded “Cheeseburger Impact” many different watches of comparable heft typically fall sufferer to (thanks once more to these gracefully sculpted traces).
The satin-like brushing on the long-lasting Oyster bracelet is best-in-class (and worth level) and options Rolex’s (Why doesn’t each model function it?) “Straightforward Hyperlink” regulate, making the Air-King splendidly comfy on the wrist (at instances, I overlook I’m even carrying it). However let’s speak technical turkey.
Bleu, bleu, Parachrome bleu!
Because the haters insist, Rolex doesn’t produce technically spectacular watches. I encourage to vary. Since Rolex doesn’t select to dabble in Haute Horlogerie, it’s straightforward to miss the truth that they’ve been one of the crucial modern (and influential) watchmakers of the previous 100 years. True, it took them nearly that lengthy to develop their very own in-house chronograph motion – nevertheless it’s one helluva chronograph motion! By way of accuracy, shock resistance, anti-magnetism, energy reserve and sheer reliability, the Caliber 4130 is a worthy contender to any of its rivals.
Let’s speak magnetism for a second. As a author who finds himself nearly married to his laptop computer, the impact of magnetism on my mechanical wristwatch is a really actual concern. Whereas the Air-King makes use of the identical motion and tender iron cage because the trailblazing, non-magnetic Milgauss, it’s Rolex’s proprietary Parachrom Bleu hairspring that renders it nearly impervious to magnetic fields.
Cast from a brand new patented alloy — the results of a number of years analysis on the a part of Rolex’s personal physicists and engineers – Parachrom Bleu was launched in 2000. Not solely non-magnetic, however extremely immune to warmth and put on and as much as 10 instances extra correct than a conventional hairspring.
However wait … what about silicon? I’m glad you requested.
By no means one to relaxation on its laurels, in 2014 Rolex launched yet one more breakthrough within the science and manufacture of hairsprings: Syloxi. A metaloid created from a silicon and silicon composite combine, Rolex’s Syloxi hairspring boasts all the identical advantages of Parachrom Bleu with elevated temperature resistance and a revolutionary design permitting it to raised compensate for the consequences of gravity.
Not solely technically spectacular watchmaking however severe science and engineering as nicely.
Worth and Buy
With the Air-King rumored to be on the endangered checklist together with its technically identically cousin, the Milgauss, collectors and flippers alike rushed to buy what they believed to be a soon-to-be discontinued reference. Consumers who initially turned up their nostril on the Bloodhound, passing on a possibility to personal one at retail, now confronted the prospect of ready lists or secondary market premiums.
For a short time, a no-date Sub was simpler to attain at some boutiques. Topping out north of $14K on the market peak, Air-King costs started to tumble after the announcement that the mannequin would see a brand new “improved” reference for 2022. With costs returning to what I felt was an inexpensive stage, I made a decision it was time to lastly pull the set off.
In a cutthroat pre-owned Rolex market, just one query remained: The place to purchase? For me, the reply was easy: Tim Mosso and his crew over on the WatchBox. A Senior Shopper Advisor hooked me up with a like-new 2019 Air-King with all of the bells and whistles: field, papers, tags, hangers – even the much-coveted plastic bezel guard. The value was proper, together with a 2-year firm guarantee. They usually even threw in free in a single day supply!
Because the saying goes, haters are all the time gonna hate. Should you’ve already written off Rolex as an overpriced, overrated model for Instagram flexers and neophyte watch lovers with extra money than style – a model you’ve lengthy since outgrown (even with out having owned one), so be it. It’s not my mission to vary neither hearts nor minds – merely to humbly share one collector’s journey via the wonderous, at instances inscrutable, world of horology.
Whereas I’ve heard greater than a pair “specialists” proclaim the Air-King Reference 116900 a future basic – one which collectors will sometime pay handsomely for — I actually don’t care. For me, it’s all concerning the current. The Air-King has grow to be my inseparable companion. My go-to, each day wearer (It even has the bezel swirl and clasp scuff to show it). To every his personal. Make mine a Bloodhound.
Fast info: Rolex Air-King “Bloodhound”
Case: 40 x 13.2 mm 49 mm lug-to-lug. Rolex 904L Oystersteel brushed & polished. Screw down crown.
Motion: Caliber 3230, automated winding, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency, tender iron cage, Parachrom bleu overcoil, COSC & Superlative Chronometer. 31 jewels, energy reserve 48 hours
Bracelet: Oyster, brushed, Easylink 5 mm adjustment
Water resistant: 100 m
Authentic retail worth: $6,100 (now discontinued mannequin)
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