Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Watch Review: Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36mm 116000 Blue Arabic Dial

Several years ago, I added the first Rolex to my collection in the form of the then-newly discontinued 36mm Explorer I 114270 after what I thought was an exhaustive search of Rolex's contemporary offerings.  I'd intended the acquisition to be the sole representative of the laudable crown in my watch box, and it likely would have been, had I not been tempted to view its successor, the 39mm Explorer I 214270, at my local authorized dealer.  It wasn't that the 214270 impressed me (with its stunted hands, how could it?); it was that I laid eyes on the 116000 with its blue, Explorer-style 9-6-3 dial and updated oysterclasp bracelet, and immediately fell in love.

The result was I sold the Explorer I I'd fully intended to keep (at a slight profit, thanks to its discontinuance and having acquired it used), and bided my time and money until I could afford to purchase the 116000 new.  The time came a little sooner than I'd expected due to the introduction of the 39mm Oyster Perpetual models at Baselworld 2015 and rumored (and likely probable) discontinuance of the Arabic dial 36mm models, but I was able to negotiate enough of a deal to walk away with the Rolex I'd lusted after for nearly four years.

It had taken four years in part because I'd tried so desperately to talk myself out of the purchase.  I knew that I'd be unlikely to sell a nameless Oyster Perpetual for more than I bought it for, especially not if I bought it new, and I was loathe to sink the thousands I'd recovered and couple of hundred I'd gained from the Explorer back into another watch, much less another Rolex.  But the pull of the 116000 was so strong that I nearly purchased a gently used example from one of the preowned watch vendors at Nakano Broadway during my last trip to Japan.  In the end, it may have been for the best, as the retail experience at my local authorized dealer was top notch, and there is an ineffably exquisite quality to purchasing and subsequently wearing a watch that can claim you as its sole owner.  (Far less ineffable were the previous owner's wrist hairs that emerged from between the bracelet links of my secondhand Explorer I, when I gave it a thorough ultrasonic cleaning.)  I was afraid that, after spending over $5k on a watch - more than I've ever spent on a consumer product - I'd become bored of it in a month or two, as I have with many previous watch acquisitions (and which my long history as a watch flipper can attest to).

Going into the fourth month since picking up the 116000, I can happily report that wasn't the case.  Many WIS understand the difference between a watch that immediately speaks to you and one that does not; the latter may become an acquired favorite, after a time, but the former will always appeal to you on some primordial level, making you smile each time you glance at it, no matter how many times you already have.  Several times while wearing it, I have been times I've been tempted to winnow my five-watch rule down to an only-watch rule, with the 116000 as the sole survivor.  Only my love for the Speedy Pro - in my book the poster child for acquired favorites; it wasn't love the first time it graced my wrist (it struck me as too large, as it continues to do when paired with a bracelet), but the longer I've had it, the more and more I've grown to appreciate its immaculately designed dial, bulbous crystal, and myriad other design decisions that make it the Platonic ideal of a chronograph.  Well, that and my obsession with having a backup for nearly everything.  But if I were compelled to live an only-watch lifestyle, I have to admit that, for all of the Speedy's benefits, both technical and in heritage, I'd probably end up siding with the 116000.  It just suits me best.

Because it's not one of the more-vaunted sports models, you may be able to negotiate a slight discount on an Oyster Perpetual, even at an Authorized Dealer, as I did.  Granted, all I achieved was getting it tax free (nearly 5% off what would have been the total price), but that amounts to several hundred dollars in savings on a purchase like this.  Seeing as I had been willing to pay full price if necessary, I counted it as a welcome surplus of exchange.


  1. This is the exact struggle I am going through - thanks for posting. Do you still love the 116000? So much cool history behind the explorer though...

  2. I do - it's on my wrist right now as I type this, in fact. The 116000 and the Speedy Pro are the two watches in my box right now that I'll probably never flip. Still no regrets in selling the Explorer I, as I kept wishing the dial were blue whenever I looked at the time. Looking at the 116000's dial still makes me smile every time.

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