A watch amateur meets Maverick, aka. the Rolex Air King
Its interesting, in these days of over supply of watches and a me-too sameness around the industry (everyone have their diver, motor-sport, vintage, bronze, dress - check !) that there are still watches that grab you.
I have been looking at this watch for 6 months. Really wanting more and more, but wondering if it will be a long term keeper. The sheer pop of this thing, combined with the small size (I am normally a 42-44mm man), the alternative matt and shiny pieces (not that shiny) and more font colours on the dial then Rolex has ever done and I have ever seen.
I like the smaller size, which still looks great on a wrist and especially mine which is smallish. When watches become much smaller they look like bracelets IMHO. My colleague at work has a 36mm Day-Date with diamonds for the numbers and it looks like a super posh bracelet/watch.
Of course this thing is like marmite (love it or hate it). Rolex's homage to the Blood Hound and speed racing in general which effectively replace the entire previous Air King series in a swoosh.
The dial of course a direct simulacrum of the Blood Hound controls
So a solid yellow gold crown with white gold hands and silver hour numbers. Green second hand and Rolex with the original Air-King font at the bottom and two other fonts for the top and bottom text, not to mention the white minute markers and that makes 7 fonts if you count the "swiss made" :)
Like the Blood Hound controls it makes each set very easy to identify on its own. Its crazy but somehow works and is both cool and sophisticated at the same time. Its like my Omega Aqua Terra Golf edition, with gold second hand, black and blue hour hand, black and white minute hand, white face, silver pips, blue minute numbers and red Omega. That somehow works as well.
There is a big argument about lume here. For me lume in general is a gimmick. It doesn’t shine for that long after being exposed to light anyway, unless you have a Ball of course with its Triton tubes. Anyway after everything I read I was shocked to find the Air king actually does have some lume on the 12 o'clock and hands.
The crown is the prefect size. I am a big fan of over size crowns as its so much easier to wind and set the date. Of course here there is no date and the crown is not large, but its also not really small which is a blessing and balances the face out well.
I love the way colours reflect off the dial
The 904L steel is intriguing. At the end of the day its only 15% harder then the more generic 316L.
This is useful improved resistance to scratching, but not as hard as Sinn's tegimented steel, or Damasko's or Bremonts hardening for example. IMHO the main benefit of the 904L alloy is the resistance to acid, pitting generally and by design, typical liquids one might come into contact with day-to-day, e.g. sea water. This makes it more comfortable to swim with. A rule for me when I go on holiday as I only take my watch off to sleep. Too much danger of loss or theft if you have to take it off during the day ......
This leads me to think about the crown and the Oyster case. The Oyster case was designed from scratch to be water and dust resistant. Its comforting to know that every Oyster Rolex has a screw down crown. The depth rating is conservatively quoted as 100m. There are a myriad of watches from other manufacturers with a 100m rating and no screw down crown, and when I ask them if you can swim I get a mix of answers. One manufacture told me that I shouldn't swim with their 100m watch! Another one told me that you can, no problem, as long as you have the seals renewed every year. Now that sounds like a mega hassle to me and I would generally worry so much that I just wouldn't swim with it at the end of the day.
Its just a great watch to travel with
The other thing I really like about this watch is the buckle, I think called the Oyster Clasp. Its has micro adjustments !!! You know there are some bracelets out there that actually have no micro adjustments at all - some watches rely on link removal only. However the really clever thing is the expanding setting. Basically on the buckle is a mechanism where you do this little click movement and it extends the bracelet by a few millimetres. This is genius. My wrist expands and contracts depending on the weather. In hot weather its a little larger, in cold its a bit smaller. By opening the buckle and doing a little click I can instantly alter the buckle. This is almost a reason to buy a Rolex - just for this feature
One thing I have noticed about the Air-King, which is different from all my other watch's, is that the first time I put it next to my ear to hear the tick-tock I heard nothing. I tried a few times and eventually heard it very faintly in a completely quiet room. The weird thing was that each tick had a gong like echo. I figure this must be the Oyster case and the soft iron cladding providing the anti-magnetic feature. The watch is also slightly heavier (although general still light in my opinion for a metal bracelet watch) then its size suggests. Again possibly to do with the anti-magnetic soft iron. I think this is a neat feature to have. Life is full of electronic devices these days, and sending a watch off to its manufacturer to be de-magnetized is a real pain. It also builds up over the years so increasingly effecting the time.
Looking past all the features, at the end of the day this watch is great to wear at home and work
and I just love to look at it all the time. It really cheers me up, even when driving
The spicy little Rolex Maverick that only breaks a few rules but still manages to stay beautiful and cover work and fun. IMHO a high accomplishment for a watch