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Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch

Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch

Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch

The Rolex Air King Luxury Watch is one of the oldest names in Rolex’s catalog that is still in the lineup today. Most collectors are more familiar with the Rolex Air-King in its current form. And this is a contemporary aviator’s tool watch outfitted with a 40mm case. It also has a dial that resembles cockpit instruments. But, the Air-King actually has its roots planted in the realm of dress watches. And this has a design like the Oyster Perpetual rather than a Professional series pilot’s watch.

Introduction to the Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch 

Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch

These days the modern Rolex Air King Luxury Watch is one of the brand’s professional tool watches. However, that hasn’t always been the case. While this watch has always been a pilot’s watch. It has largely been a more popular choice for entry-level Rolex collectors. Thanks to its timeless design and affordable price point. Over the decades, it became more of a cult favorite. On the fringe rather than a mainstream piece beloved by the masses.

The Rolex Air King Luxury Watch is one of the oldest names in the brand’s catalog. With the very first instance of its use dating all the way back to the 1940s. Throughout those years, we’ve seen some great iterations, innovations, and upgrades. The watch is referred to as a classic and elegant line. We’ve also seen a major shift in positioning by Rolex. When they halted its production after nearly seventy years. To completely upend the design in favor of turning it back to its original, tool-watch roots.

If you’re thinking of investing in a Rolex Air-King. We’ve compiled most of the things that you’ll need to make an informed decision right here. So, let’s get started!

The Current Rolex Air King Luxury Watch Specification

The Current Rolex Air King Luxury Watch Specification

Reference Number: 116900

  • Production Years: 2016 – Present
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials: Oystersteel (904L stainless steel)
  • Features: Time + Running Seconds; Internal Antimagnetic Shield
  • Dial: Black
  • Bezel: Fixed, Stainless Steel, Smooth Style
  • Crystal: Sapphire (Flat)
  • Movement: Rolex Caliber 3131
  • Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet
  • Strap/Bracelet: Oyster bracelet

5 Quick Facts about the Air-King

5 Quick Facts about the Air-King

Before we dive into the extensive features of the Rolex Air-King. Luxury Watch, here are 5 interesting facts about its evolution over the decades.

The Air-King Was Made In Honor of WWII Pilots

During and directly after WWII, Rolex released a line of ‘Air’ watch models. They were created to honor the British Royal Air Force and its pilots. There were Air-Lion, Air-Tiger, Air-Giant, and Air-King. But the Air-King is the only one still in production today.

The Air-King Has Always Been Considered Large

When the Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch was first launched. It was launched as its own standalone collection in 1958, it clocked in at 34mm. While this is considered small for today’s standards, back then, it was quite large. So, when the watch was re-released in 2016. It was reimagined in a whole new way, with one of its most significant updates being a larger 40mm case.

The Air-King Is One of Rolex’s Oldest Collections

Although the very first use of the “Air-King” name dates back to 1945. The Air-King collection as we know it today did not join Rolex’s catalog until 1958. Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf originally rolled out the Air-King as a tribute to pilots. And he likely had no idea it would become one of the brand’s most enduring collections.

The Air-King Was Revived and Re-Invented In 2016

After being discontinued for a couple of years in 2014. The Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch was re-released in 2016 in the form of reference 116900. The key difference? Instead of being considered an affordable and classic entry-level Rolex. A Rolex with a 34mm case, the new Air-King is a proper aviation timepiece. Having a 40mm antimagnetic case borrowed from the Milgauss.

The New Air-King Is Anti-Magnetic

Powered by the Rolex Caliber 3131, the new Air-King ref. 116900 is equipped with a specialized internal shield. So that it can protect its movement from magnetic fields. Both the case and the bracelet of the current-model Air-King are the same ones found on the Milgauss. And this granted Rolex’s aviation watches the same legendary antimagnetic properties. The same as its iconic model for scientists.

How Much Is A Rolex Air-King?

You can buy a new Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch from an authorized retailer for a considerable cost. But, it is likely that there will be a slight waiting list for it. Once you get into discontinued models on the secondary market. You will find there is a lot of choice for collectors, not only price but also in regards to style and design. For example, most vintage models hover around $4,000 to $5,000. But this all depends on their specific reference and condition. 

Buying Pre-Owned Vs. New Rolex Air King Luxury Watch

Buying Pre-Owned Vs. New Rolex Air King Luxury Watch

For decades, what attracted collectors to the Rolex Air King Luxury Watch was affordability. Because it had classic, simple aesthetics and a low price point. The Air-King was often touted as the ‘entry-level’ Rolex for up-and-coming collectors. Today, that still remains true when you look at vintage and pre-owned Air-King models. As these watches come in at a great low price point. And they also offer a good selection of styling while still remaining timeless.

However, Rolex decided to reinvent the Air-King for its re-release in 2016. The new design was seen as somewhat polarizing. The bolder face design and pops of green and yellow turned a lot of entry-level buyers off. Because they sought out this collection for its simplicity. But, others loved it for its thoroughly modern take on the classic pilot’s watch. Today, the Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch is very much a tool watch, and those who buy it often wear it as such. With that in mind, it is important to note that the price has not changed drastically. As its retail price still makes it one of the most affordable men’s Rolex models currently available.

So to sum it up: whether you go new or pre-owned, you can always get a Rolex Air-King for a great price. In the end, what it really comes down to (as always) are your personal tastes and budget.

What you need to know about the Rolex Air King Luxury Watch Its Features & Options

Except for a few vintage Rolex Air-King Date references. The Air-King collection has always been a straightforward, time-only watch. Here, we’ll explore the different features available on the Air-King over the years. Although dial styles have ranged from stark black or silver dials. Having a traditional stick index to brightly colored diamond-set dials. Its core functionality has remained largely unchanged over the years.

Rolex Air-King Materials

Except for a small volume of vintage references. The Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch was forged from stainless steel. Today, Rolex uses their proprietary 904L stainless steel. And this is not only extremely durable but also highly corrosion-resistant. However, during the extremely long production run of the ref. 5500, we saw solid gold, two-tone, and even gold-capped Rolex Air-King watches. Then much later on, some models of the Air-King ref. 114200 were available with an upgraded fluted bezel in 18k white gold.

Rolex Air-King Sizes

Today, the modern Rolex Air-King clocks in at 40mm. This is large compared to the 34mm sizing that was used on the Air-King case from 1958 until 2014. However, back in the day, the 34mm sizing was considered quite large for a wristwatch. Today, 40mm is actually considered average, and many now see Rolex’s 36mm sized watches as small. How times change, right?

Rolex Air-King Bezels

Famously, the Air-King embraced the simplicity of a smooth bezel. In fact, for decades, it’s practically all you could get, except for some gold fluted bezels. Eventually, we entered the ref. 14000 eras, and we got an engine-turned bezel in addition to an 18k white gold fluted option. On the current 40mm Air-King, you can only get a smooth, stainless steel bezel.

Rolex Air-King Dials

Over the years, the Rolex Air-King has been offered with more dial color options. The earliest examples were almost only fitted with either black, silver, blue dials. When the ref. 14000 replaced the beloved ref. 5500 we got new colors like salmon and white alongside the classic blue and black. Today, the modern Air-King is only available with a black dial. Although it does feature a yellow crown and bright green printed Rolex logo.

Rolex Air-King Bracelets

The Rolex Air-King Luxury Watch has been outfitted in classic, 3-piece Oyster bracelets. But certain vintage examples can also be found with the dressier Jubilee. The bracelet always matches the Oyster case, as well, being forged out of the same durable and reliable alloys. The current ref. 116900 also features Rolex’s latest Oysterclasp, complete with the convenient 5mm Easylink extension system.

Rolex Air-King Movements

The movements inside the Rolex Air-King only became COSC certified with the ref. 114200, which housed the cal. 3130. Before that, Air-King watches were only allowed to be marked with either ‘Super Precision’ or ‘Precision’ on their dials, as they lacked chronometer certification. Below are the movements used from the 1950’s Air-Kings until today?

How to Style the Rolex Air King Luxury Watch 

The Rolex Air-King is such an easy watch to style in your everyday wardrobe. Because this timepiece has historically been forged out of stainless steel, the Air-King is the perfect understated accessory that can easily transition from the office to errands and weekend adventures. Here, we have a few ideas on how you can incorporate one into your own wardrobe.

Dressed Down With Your Vintage Air-King

This stainless steel watch is the perfect everyday accessory because it is timeless and durable. We love the vintage models especially because they feature these easygoing, simple dials that are effortless to pair with different outfits. For example, this silver dial ref. 5500 is relaxed and low-key, making it the perfect accessory to strap on for weekend activities like brunch or rooftop drinks with friends. Since it’s a Rolex, it’s always going to steal glances. Yet, the understated design allows you to pair it with your favorite t-shirt and jeans or button up with a funky pattern. Want to go bolder? Add a fun-colored pair of sneakers to your look.

Dressed Up With Your Diamond Air-King

For the most part, the Rolex Air King Luxury Watch is an understated watch. But, with additions like gold and fluted bezels, and even diamond-set dial upgrades, you could definitely go for a more luxurious look at a lower price point. Ladies, try pairing this watch with some diamond studs or a diamond tennis bracelet for a night out. Gents pair a diamond-set Rolex Air-King with a pair of dark wash jeans, a crisp white shirt, and a dark blazer for an effortlessly handsome and elevated look.

Your Everyday Look with Your Contemporary Air-King

You either love or hate the new Air-King – and we personally love it. While some are on the fence about its styling, it is undeniable that it makes a great everyday timepiece. The dark dial with incredibly legible numerals makes it perfect for those who travel a lot for work or are too busy to even grab their phone and check the time during the day. Plus, the green and yellow accents really add a pop of color while also being entirely unexpected for Rolex. If you’re looking for a watch that turns heads and starts conversations, this Rolex Air-King is it. Strap it on with a suit and tie for work or with jeans and a t-shirt for the weekend. This modern Rolex is always going to look good.



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