|Year of production (circa)||
Original box & papers
Rolex Air-King Ref. 116900 Full set
To offer some variety in our shop, we are happy to offer this modern Rolex Airking.
It might not be a surprise that we as vintage lovers are more familiar with the 34mm version of the Air King. The first Iteration of the Rolex Air king was launched in 1945 as part of its air series, which is a collection of watched Rolex launched to honor the RAF pilots who participated in the second World War and to celebrate their accomplishments.
As this specific Air King dates back to 2018, it is executed in a 40mm steel case and features the automatic cal.3131. The watch comes with the original box and papers, which is of course good news.
Will you be the next ‘king of the air?
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Rolex is well known for its watches aimed at specific professionals. As such, it is no wonder that the house has a long history in specialist pilot’s watches. From the 1930’s onwards, several variations of the Oyster Perpetual bubble-back were made with names like Air-Lion, Air-Giant and Air-Tiger. These were commonly bought by RAF pilots during WWII, as an upgrade to their issued watches.
In 1945, a single pilot’s line was launched to replace all of these predecessors: The Rolex Air-King.
Interestingly, the Air-King does not feature too many true aviation features. The archetypal pilot’s watch is big, with a matte black dial and white numerals and preferably a soft iron cage to protect from magnetism. The older Air-Kings have none of that. It is, however, a beautiful and versatile line of watches that is worth considering.
The most popular vintage Air-King is undoubtedly the Ref. 5500. A dual-reference that was also assigned to an Explorer model. To complicate things further, the Ref. 5500 was identical to the Ref. 1002 Oyster Perpetual, except for the dial. The Ref. 5500 was introduced in 1957 and lasted a whopping 37 years, making it the longest-running Rolex reference ever.
Rolex discontinued the Air-King in 2014, only to bring it back in 2016 with the Ref. 116900. A bit of an odd duck in the collection, with its busy dial with yellow and green details. It is, however, a fan favorite in the modern lineup, together with the equally quirky Milgauss.
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