All About Rolex Air King Watches
History of Rolex Air King
In 1945, Rolex created Oyster Perpetual Air King to honor The RAF pilots who participated in the Battle of Britain. The Rolex Air King is regarded as one of the Rolex classic watches as the Air King prices are more affordable. It has been the choice of many pilots and is considered one of the best pilot watches.
Since Rolex was founded in 1905, the luxury watchmaker has been leading the industry and its exalted status remains unwavering to this day. For countless times, Rolex delights the world with its exquisite and rare creations, one exemplary piece is the Rolex Air King.
Boasting a long-dated history, the Rolex Air King was introduced during the Second World War in 1945, the same year the Datejust was launched. The Air King is Rolex’s only series of watches to have covered a long-haul distance, with the modern Datejust and Oyster Perpetual being its only competitors. Released for members of the British Royal Air Force who served during the 1930s and 40s, both the name and design of the Air King were inspired by these military aviators. In fact, besides the Air King, there were also the Air Lion, Air Tiger, and Air Giant which were launched around the same period as part of the aviation-themed lineup. And after the war was over, several new air models were debuted. These vintage models featured a 34mm case and a simple design excluding the date mechanism.
The King of Air King: Rolex 5500
In 1957, Rolex released the Rolex Air King 5500, which many consider to be the quintessential Air King model. Sporting a 34mm Oystersteel case, the vintage model used to be the smallest men's wristwatch offered by Rolex. As one of the most long-lived Rolex’s timepieces of the era, 5500 had a remarkable production span of 37 years. It went through phases of minor changes for visual refinements and improved functionality for use in harsher conditions, but this exceptional timepiece with its iconic minimalist feature-set remained a strong player in the market.
Rolex Air King 116900
Several more references were released after the Air King 5500. Fast forward to the present day, the latest Rolex Air King 116900 model has gone through a complete makeover and now features an enlarged 40mm stainless steel Oyster case, a notable difference from all its predecessor models which measure 34mm in diameter. This new Air King also comes with a revamped dial design with a chroma light triangle at 12 o’clock, and white gold Arabic numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. The hour hand is in Rolex’s classic Mercedes style, matched by the lollipop shaped second hand. The white gold hands and the little details in Rolex’s signature green color create a wonderful balance. Unlike the previous models with a handful of dial options, it is only available in black. However, the simplistic and mature design inspired by aviation expeditions has successfully caught the hearts of many Rolex admirers.
116900 can be considered a turning point in the entire history of the Air King in many ways, and not just from its new look. It promises greater durability with a sturdier watch case, the same one as the Rolex Milgauss. The internal Caliber 3131 movement is protected by the anti-magnetic blue “Parachrom” hairspring, as well as other ferromagnetic alloys such as nickel-phosphorous. Their antimagnetic nature is especially ideal for use on aircrafts. Speaking of the movement, it boasts an accuracy of 28000vph and can run up to 48 hours, making the Rolex Air King an undisputedly reliable choice for the professionals. Another alteration that has caught the attention of fans is the all satin finish of the Oyster bracelet. This gives the timepiece a more rugged touch, as befit a tool watch according to Rolex lovers.
Superlative Chronometer Certification
As we all know, Rolex is a brand that aspires to excellence. By that it signifies that Rolex is not satisfied by just meeting the industry standards, but to go beyond them instead. The Superlative Chronometer certification is an exemplification of the extra mile it took to achieve that. Currently, the set accuracy benchmarks by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) for chronometer movements is +4/-6 seconds per day. However, Rolex’s timepieces have undergone 15 days of stringent testing to guarantee that they have an accuracy of +2/-2 seconds a day, and such precision shall last for at least five years. Rolex has redefined the certification and this improved and enhanced benchmark will be applied to the other Rolex models as well as announced in 2016. This is just one of the many reasons as to how Rolex has won the hearts of watch lovers from all around the world.
To simply put, if you are into the aviation theme, favor all things retro or looking for a robust wristwatch, the Rolex Air King would be a perfect choice for you. If you happen to be in search of your first Rolex watch, this model with its simple features and not exceptionally fancy look also makes a wonderful choice. This is a watch for everyone.