We compare the Rolex Air-King to a ‘man of few words.’ Both quiet and simple, yet drop a profound word when they occasionally speak.
Even though they’ve been around since the 1940’s- the Rolex Air-King is one of the more underrated watches the brand has produced. With few complications and it’s straight forward time keeping, the Air-King is less expensive than other Rolex models. This option is perfect for entry level or budget friendly collectors.
HISTORY OF THE AIR-KING
The ‘Air’ aviation series included the Air-King, along with the Air-Lion, Air-Giant, and Air-Tiger. This series was produced near the end of World War II as a way to honor Battle of Britain’s Royal Air Force pilots.
The RAF pilots were originally issued standard 30mm Speedkings, but began replacing them with Oyster Perpetuals, preferred for their larger size and better legibility. When Rolex founder Hans Wildorf heard they were purchasing them with their own money, he decided to step in and assist.
After the 1950’s era, only the Air-King remained in production.
Original Air-King models were manufactured with relatively few updates for nearly 40 years. Rolex stopped Air-King production in 2014, but relaunched with a completely updated look in 2016.
The first Air-King model was released in 1945. With a basic, classic design- the Air-King embodied Rolex’s high quality standards.
Early models had similar features, with slight variances.
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.
Throughout the years, the Air-King received subtle, but modern updates. Later models bore a white/cream or silver dial with stainless steel markers, while some featured Arabic numerals.
See also: Rolex Air-King Review
The most dramatic and contemporary update occurred with the relaunch in 2016. The new Air-King is nearly unrecognizable compared to its vintage counterparts. The larger case and updated dial bring the Rolex Air-King to current standards, but keeps the vintage twist.
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 Air-King deserves a seat at the table- whether you’re an avid Rolex collector or a first time buyer. If you’re in the market for an affordable daily wear Rolex, this is definitely a great option.
See also: Best Watches for Active Wear
Most love the Air-King and it’s rich World War II aviation history. Although it’s not quite as popular as other aviation Rolex watches- the GMT Master and the Sky-Dweller- it’s a great vintage piece for those looking for a timeless watch.
Related: more on the Sky-Dweller
Like we said before, the Rolex Air-King is a low key, subtle piece BUT it says all the right things if you’ll let it!
If you are interested in purchasing your own Rolex Air-King, give us a call or fill out the contact form below. Check out our Facebook page for box openings and watch reviews by our in-house watch expert Sergio Nuncio.