The Air-King: when Rolex gives us what we want and we are still not happy
Yes it’s a controversial tittle but it’s true, the watch community (specially Rolex enthusiasts) complaint about a lot of things such as hands, dials colours, sizes and bracelets, one of the things they would like more (me included) is Rolex actually paying more attention by listening to the watch community. If we go back 10 to 12 years from now I remember that vintage watches really exploded together with the industry in general, I remember wanting a Rolex and I got a vintage Rolex Precision ( my very first article down below) with a 34mm case and that warm plexiglass. It worked very well for me but I wanted a modern construction Rolex with an oyster bracelet and after some years I started to look at the Air-King line, they were modestly priced with a great variety of dials but at 34mm I wanted something different and bigger too. When I started attending forums looking at the history and comments about the watch almost every person was criticising the poor Air-King: “why Rolex keeps this women’s line of watches? Why not make an Air-King with real proportions?, the Air-King deserves a revival!..” and then it happened, Rolex revealed the new Air-King 116900 at Baselworld 2016. A 40mm version as a stand-alone line with a black dial in an oyster bracelet, everything that we wanted, a tool watch coming from a tool environment ( the inspiration of his version came from gauges of the Bloodhound supersonic car) with a unique look and of course no date (an enthusiastic favourite), the reaction? Not a good one, people couldn’t get over the fact of the yellow crown with the corporate green Rolex, the watch did not perform well and up to a certain point this year it was the only sports model that you could buy straight from a Rolex dealer. I got one and I have to say it’s an amazing watch, the black is a deep as posible, the chromalight is amazing and I think the colours make it unique and definitely a future icon but the size..
for me this was the breaking point, I can pull 42 and 43 sometimes but there was something about this Air-King just like the white Milgauss that it looked beautiful in the box but on my wrist looked like a huge round plate and not in a good way, it was too big, the lack of date made it even bigger. So I took the decision to trade the Air-King for an Oyster perpetual white grape 36 mm (which I used to own, you can find the review a few articles back), when I was wearing the Air-King I was lusting after that feeling when I wore my Rolex precision and I remembered that what I wanted at that time was a vintage looking Rolex with a modern construction, the Oyster Perpetual does that for me. The conclusion is that we collectors don’t know what we want until we have it so for me it’s great that Rolex doesn’t listen to the community, we are a bunch of confused individuals and we will confuse others even more with strong and unfounded opinions. How many times we have a watch and we do not know why? My advise to Rolex is: keep doing what you believe is right.. don’t listen to us :)