image

A review on the 2016 Rolex Air King Ref 116 900.

amanico
Avatar
none

The Rolex Air King 116 900 is not a strange watch, it is a strange Rolex. 

When it was unveiled, at the 2016 Basel Fair, it generated some strong comments: " The dial is too messy " was one of the comments we could most often read. 

It is not every day you can see a Rolex reference which doesn't look like another one. The GMT MASTER has its own personality, so is the Submariner, the Sea Dweller, at the exception of the Deep Sea Dweller James Cameron, the Daytona and so on. 

No, there was the Air King before 2016, and now, there is the Air King since 2016. It is a totally different watch. 

none

In fact, we could say that the new Air King is a blend of three watches / Instruments:

- The Explorer, with its white gold applied 3 / 6 / 9 hours markers. ( Credit picture: Unknown ): 

none

- The Milgauss, for its case, its soft iron dust cover, and the movement, the Cal 3131 and its blue parachrom spiral. Yes, yes, you read well, the Air King is, like the Milgauss, an anti magnetic watch... And a chronometer, as well, with an accuracy of -2 / +2 seconds per day, and, to be complete, a power reserve of 48 hours. Without forgetting a bit of its madness!

none

- The Bloodhood Rocket Car Chronograph and Speedometer, with their yellow and green touches and the white minutes markers, made in 2014, with some obvious elements of style / design, not to say madness, borrowed by the new Air King. 

none

After the first moments of surprise, you have the confirmation that you face something really special, not a cheap Milgauss, but a real anti magnetic watch, and if you go farther in the reflexion, the new Air King makes sense...

Indeed, the Air King is an evocation of: 

- Aviation, 

- A pilot instrument, 

- Working in hostile magnetic forces. 

And then, you think about some pilot watches of the past, housed during the 2d world war, which have been revisited by some brands such as Glashutte Original with the Senator Navigator and its typical minute indices ( 5, 10, 15, 20 and so on ). 

The Laco ( Credit picture unknown ).

none

The B. UHR Family picture, IWC, Lange, Stowa and Laco ( Credit picture: Horobox )

none

The much more recent ( 2009 ) Glashutte Senator Navigator: 

none

If we wanted to differentiate the raison d'être of the Milgauss and the Air King, I would say that the Milgauss is the anti magnetic watch for people working on the ground, while the Air King is dedicated to those who are on the air. Differently said, Scientists versus Pilots...

none

There is an important detail I would like to mention, here... The bracelet. On the Milgauss, the bracelet has its center link polished, while it is all brushed on the Air King. For a tool watch, a polished center link is not very à propos. Good point for the Air King, then. 

none

Would I change something else on that watch? Yes, just one. I would opt for luminous 5 minutes indices. Indeed, as it is, the only luminous parts of this Air King are the hands, and the triangle at 12 o' clock...  In the night, it lacks legibility, which is not very consistent with the spirit of this time keeper. 

none

These are all the reasons which made me fall in love with the Air King, and at first sight. And a love which lasts, after 4 months of ownership.

Here, my very first hours in Valencia ( Spain ), with the Air King on the wrist: 

none

This is a very special Rolex, such as the Green Milgauss can be, or the Yacht Master, or much older, the Explorer II Ref 1655 with its " Freccione ". 

The former Air King played the card of discretion and sobriety. 

Indeed, have a look at these former models:

The original, Ref 4499, from the 40's ( Credit picture Alex Pig ). 

none

The Ref 5500 " super precision", with its Explorer dial ( Credit picture Ten Past Ten ) :

none

Or a later version, with its applied indices and glossy black dial ( Credit picture Amsterdam Watch ):

none

Or this superb 5500, with its linen dial from the early 70's: 

none

Or the more recent Reference 14000, from the 2000's ( Credit picture Jacek ):

none

The design was " wise ", the case was small ( 34 mm ). 

This new one is exuberant, young, fresh and mad looking, but, still, inspired, as we saw, and inspiring. Despite its strong and non-consensual look, I predict it will become a future Classic. 

none

none

It is a true member of the " Professional line", along with the Explorers, the Submariner, GMT MASTER, Daytona and Milgauss. 

I would even say that it is a bit in the vein of the Tudor Black Bay. A strong looking watch, revisiting and re inventing the past in a modern way.

Now the question is to know if this new Air King won't be considered as the most serious competitor of the Milgauss and will not kill it... 

none

Looking forward to reading your comments and thoughts, 

Best. 

Nicolas
Comments:
Avatar
41northpole June 25th, 2018-16:10
Very nice and different Rolex Hi Nicolas It's a shame as you say there isn't much lume. By the way, don't loose this one, the screw next to the bracelet looks like it's not screwed in properly. Enjoy it Tim
chocomallo June 26th, 2018-01:34
Wow, you have seriously sharp eyes. I suspect he unscrewed it to lay the bracelet flat. No message body
Avatar
amanico June 26th, 2018-03:33
That's it.  
Avatar
amanico June 26th, 2018-03:33
Don't worry, I removed the screw for the pictures... Thanks, my friend.  
Avatar
Tim_M June 25th, 2018-17:57
Splendid Review of a Singular Rolex Well done! I felt as you did when I saw this watch at Basel 2016; "wow, Rolex shows daring with this one!" Being willing to offend some, Rolex proved that it's able to show a smile. The color, the character, the soulful historic nods, the provocative scat... 
Avatar
amanico June 26th, 2018-09:13
Yed, Tim. Once again, I agree with you. Rolex knows how to make some crazy watches. Sometimes. Such as this one... Thanks for your input.  
Avatar
MichaelC June 25th, 2018-18:22
Thanks for this history. I have never known much about Rolex... But can always learn on our Forum!
Avatar
amanico June 26th, 2018-09:13
My pleasure, Michael. Thanks.  
Avatar
RG1 June 25th, 2018-18:55
Great Review as always Look so good on your wrist.
Avatar
amanico June 26th, 2018-09:14
You will soon see it in the metal. ;)  
0-10-10

Load More Comments




 Next Article
image
foversta
Avatar

Hands on review of the Breitling Navitimer 8 Unitime

foversta
Avatar
Much has been said and written about the Navitimer 8 collection since its presentation earlier this year. It is to date the most visible embodiment of the strategic orientations of the new management team of Breitling, with Georges Kern at its head. The fact that many speak about this collection is a first win for this team: Breitling is back on the front of the stage with a renewed ambition and increased visibility. The path however is not strewn with rose petals.


Go to top.

About US | Contact

© 2017 - WatchProZine