Rolex has, after many years, updated its Air-King in 2016. The price of the watch is around 47k HKD. At this price point, it is definitely an entry-level Rolex. So, is it an able contender against the Explorer and the Milgauss, which have always been very iconic?
Let’s look at what the new Air-King has to offer. At first glance, I almost could not believe it is a watch produced by Rolex. Its design is unlike any other Rolex which are mostly conservatively designed. The new 116900 Air-King is a bold watch. At 40mm, the watch has a polished bezel and a dial full of fun. Some may argue that the dial is too busy. However, it is also the dial that sticks to the aviation theme. It mixes the hour markers 3,6 and 9 with the minute markers. It does look like an Explorer I 214270 with Arabic minute markers. But is this what Rolex has to offer? A modified Explorer I?
No. The new Air-King has a fun dial as I mentioned. Other than the mixture of hour and minute markers, the dial features a yellow Rolex crown, green “Rolex” letters and a green second hand. Green is the color of Rolex and this watch has a theme of green. The font of the letters Air-King is full of style as well. The watch has soft-iron case inside which makes the new Air-King anti-magnetic and truly adheres to the aviation theme.
This is quite a comprehensive package for an entry-level Rolex, isn’t it? But how does it compare with the Milgauss and the Explorer I?
First, let’s talk about the Explorer I. At a slightly higher price, you can an 39mm watch which has very rich history. The dial of the Explorer I is much cleaner and simpler. It is also more classic, if that is the word. However, it lacks the funky elements that exist on the Air-King dial. It has the shock absorber that the new Air-King does not have. However, it is not anti-magnetic like the new Air-King.
How about the 116400GV Milgauss? The Milgauss is famous for its green sapphire crystal and its anti-magnetic capability. It is a very accurate watch. The dial of the Milgauss is not as busy as the new Air-King but it is colorful enough. It has an all polished case and polished center links on the bracelet. On the wrist, the Milgauss looks very sharp and elegant. The shades of green on the sapphire crystal keep bringing you surprises under different lighting.
The price? It is slightly higher than the new Air-King. But I do think that the design elements of the Milgauss seem better than that of the Air-King and that makes the Milgauss my choice among the three contenders here.
What is your choice?