ROLEX Air King
The Rolex Air King was first introduced in a line of watches made to commemorate the British Air Force after World War II. Rolex introduced a line of Air watches for pilots coming home after the war. This line of watches consisted of four models; Air-Lion, Air-Tiger, Air-Giant and Air-King. The Air-King is the only watch from this line still in production today.
The Rolex Air models came to market by Rolex in 1945. Rolex designed and manufactured models such as the Air Lion, Air Tiger , Air Giant, and Air King for World War 2 British Air Force pilots.
The first model was the 4925, hand wind with a cream Arabic dial fitted in a steel case. This is certainly one for the collectors and hardly comes up for sale today.
In 1957 Rolex unveiled the model 5500. Rolex fitted this new Air King with an oyster bracelet and 34mm steel watch case. Some might say this case was slightly too small compared to the 36mm used on other Rolex models like 6305 and 1601. Rolex never had the Air King 5500 Chronometer certified by CSOC so you will not see ‘superlative chronometer certified’ on the dial. They used Precision or Super Precision on their dials.
The Rolex Air King 5500 is one of the few Rolex models you will see that famous companies over the past use these watches to gift or reward employees. You might have seen Domino’s pizza and Disney have Rolex put their logo on the dial before gifting to an employee.
Rolex upgraded the 5500 model to the new improved 14000 model. Rolex fitted a new 3000 calibre movement and a sapphire crystal to the watch. Rolex also introduced a Dial with 3,6 and 9 in Arabic and stick markers, this was later available in an all stick dial option. Rolex model 14010 had a ‘machine’ bezel fitted. This bezel was very different to original smooth steel bezel fitted to earlier models and the traditional fluted bezels Rolex use on models like the Date Just and Sky-Dweller.
The Rolex collection of 14000 was upgraded and replaced by model 114200,114210 and 114234. The Rolex air King 114234 looked the same as its previous model 11420 but Rolex added a white gold fluted bezel. The Machine bezel model was still available in the new model of 114210. All the new models used the calibre 3130 which was also used in Explorer 114270. Rolex this time around had this movement chronometer certified.
The new look Rolex Air King model 116900.
Rolex decided to discontinue the Air King range in 2014. In 2016 Rolex launched and introduced a new look Air King. Rolex used the same 40mm case from the Rolex Milgauss Model 116400. Fitted with Rolex’s 3131 calibre.
Rolex again updated model 116900 and was then replaced with 126900. The Air King now has had crown guards to protect the crown, making it look even more sporty and Rolex have updated the dial with 05 replacing the 5 on the dial. Rolex have also upgraded the calibre to 3230 which has a 70 hour power reserve.