It was definitely a surprise when we saw it at Baselworld, but now the unconventional design of the new Rolex Air-King is starting to win us over.
Swiss Rolex replica watches famously espouses a philosophy of evolution, not revolution – and its product releases are so reliably incremental that you could, well, set your watch by them. Except when they’re not. Every so often Rolex does something that breaks from its evolutionary mantra. Witness the Sky-Dweller, the platinum Daytona and now, the latest generation of the Air-King. There’s so much new about this watch that the only real link to the Air-Kings of yore is the name, so it genuinely shocked people when it was unveiled at Baselworld, and has polarised opinion since. But now the watch has started arriving with retailers and making its way onto wrists, even the most vocal of naysayers are beginning to mellow. But is that really so astonishing ? This is Rolex, remember?
For a time-only Rolex, there’s a lot going on with this dial. To start, there’s the text, all five lines of it – two at the top and three at the bottom. Of special note here is the vintage ‘Rolex Air-King series cheap copy watches’ text and of course the Rolex logo and text, printed for the first time on a watch in two colours. Add to this the familiar applied 3,6,9 numerals and Mercedes handset a la the Explorer. But the most controversial part of this dial is the minute indicators. Rolex says these oversized Arabic numerals are inspired by the watch’s aviation roots, though I find the rebranding of the Air-King into a pilot’s watch tenuous; if any Rolex is associated with pilots, surely it’s the GMT-Master. (What is it with brands releasing non-convincing pilots these days? First Patek and now Rolex. Who’s next – Panerai?) Having said that the Air-King’s dial does bring to mind an instrument panel, and that’s no accident.
Back in 2014, Rolex announced it was supporting the Bloodhound supersonic car’s attempt to hit 1000mph, showing us two analogue dashboard instruments that the new Air-King bears a striking resemblance to, right down to the green and gold logo. I have no issue with stainless steel strap Rolex fake watches trying something new on the design front, but I do find it odd to shoehorn this new design language into such a storied model; there’s no reason the brand couldn’t have come up with a new name – the Speed-King perhaps? And yet for all that newness, all that uncertainty, the dial works. Perhaps it’s thanks to the unshakeable confidence the name Rolex carries, or perhaps because those who work there are masters of the fine art of watch design. Whatever the reason, after a few glances, and a little time on the wrist – the odd, almost ungainly assurance of the latest Air-King starts to win you over.