It’s hard to go wrong with any Rolex model, but if you’re new to the brand we recommend an entry level model like the Air-King.
An Air-King is the perfect watch to get your feet wet with Rolex without breaking the bank. The Rolex Air-King has been around since 1945, and it is a variant of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Model.
This watch is classic in its style and simple in design. It’s a timeless model with an important aviation history.
Related: Rolex Air-King Reaching New Heights
The early 20th century saw progress in aircraft performance, which constantly expanded humanity’s capacity to conquer the skies and led to the introduction of long-distance flights.
Throughout the 1930’s, English aviator Charles Douglas Barnard, set a number of flight records. He played a key role in the future success of the Rolex brand.
Of the Oyster, he said:
“The peculiar qualities of this Rolex watch render it eminently suitable for flying purposes and I propose to use it on all my long-distance flights in the future”.Charles Douglas Barnard
The History of the Rolex Air-King
It has been said that the Rolex Air-King came about during World War II when the RAF pilots chose to wear the Rolex over the Movado’s that they were given.
The reason why was because the watches held up better under the pressure of flight, war and all the other stresses that they were under.
Others say that the Rolex Air-King came about sooner than that, and yet still others argue it came about later.
Either way, Hans Wilsdorf came up with Air-King as a mainstay for the Rolex line. The Rolex Air-King has been revamped only a few times, but it still maintains it’s timeless classic beauty of being one of the cleanest looking Rolex watches that is made.
Original Rolex Air-King Features
When this watch first came on the market it had a waterproof, 34mm case and in the upper third of the dial you could see the Rolex crown and the words Rolex Oyster – Air-King.
In the lower third the mark “Precision” was applied. The characters on the crown were also engraved Rolex Oyster.
The dial was a sophisticated champagne, cream color, which paired well with the stainless steel bracelet.
It came with an Oyster bracelet by default that closed with an Oysterclasp.
It never have a date function, EXCEPT for a limited edition in the 1970’s when this watch was offered with a date in gold and steel.
case: stainless steel, 34 mm
bracelet: stainless steel
movement: 10.5 movement
dial: cream colored with regular numbers in black, Mercedes hands with ‘Air-King’ below the 12 marker.
Later Air-King Updates
For almost 37 years, the Air-King line received few updates. It was eventually upgraded to feature a sapphire crystal and new caliber 3000 movement with the release of ref. 14000.
The following ref 14010 introduced the engine turned bezel. In 2000, both were updated to feature the caliber 3130 movement.
Current Rolex Air-King Features
Today’s Rolex Air-King model is hardly recognizable of early models, except for bearing the name Air-King in the same lettering that was designed specially for the model in the 1950s.
The current model features a larger Oyster, 40 mm, steel case fitted with a stark black dial. The contrasting white numbers created a sleek and easily readable display.
The case is still equipped with a screw-down crown that can withstand depths of up to 330 feet as well as higher altitudes.
It takes advantage of a Twinlock screw-down crown for extra waterproofness, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and 904L stainless steel.
The Oyster bracelet features flat three-piece links with a folding Oysterclasp with Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link.
case: Oyster, 40 mm, steel
bracelet: Oyster, flat three-piece links
movement: 3131 self winding
dial: solid black with Arabic 3-6-9 numerals interspersed with 5-minute numerals, green secondhand and vintage ‘Air-King’ above the 6 marker.
The Model Numbers of the Rolex Air-King
I don’t know if this every single model number, but I have tried to compile a pretty comprehensive list. If any are missing, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!
|Air-King||1002, 1400, 1401, 4365, 4925, 5500, 5502, 5520, 6500, 6552, 7784, 11420, 114210, 114234, 14000, 14000M, 14010, 14010M, 116900|
|Air-King (Date)||5501, 5700, 5701|
Every Rolex collector– novice to seasoned– needs an Air-King. They’ve changed in appearance over the years, but still represent Rolex’s rich aviation history.
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