True to its name, the Rolex Air-King pays homage to the pioneers of flight and aviation, honoring wartime pilots of the past. Its introduction exemplified a period in history marked by spectacular progress in aircraft performance and a continued expansion of our capacity to conquer the skies that eventually led to the introduction of long-distance flights. As one of Rolex’s oldest watch models still in production today, the Air-King has changed much since it first debuted in 1945. When it was first released, the Air-King was part of a collection of Air watches – including the Air-Lion, Air-Tiger, and Air-Giant. Among these Air watches, the Air-Kings reign outlasted the others and has evolved in the form of several different variations, introducing new design and functional elements in the past 75+ years.
Reference numbers for the Air-King collection include: 1400, 1401, 14010M, 14000M, 114234, 114210, 114200, 114234, 14010, 14000, 7784, 6552, 6500, 5701, 5700, 5520, 5506, 5504, 5501, 5502, 5500, 4925, 4365, 1002, 1009, 116900
The first Rolex Air-King, the ref. 4925, was first introduced in 1945 as an homage to the Rolex family of “Air” Oyster watches that were created in the 1930’s and early 1940’s in honor of the British Royal Air Force pilots of World War II. Its 34mm case was considerably large for watches from that era, making it quite a statement piece for the times. Made of stainless steel, with a simple dial, smooth bezel, winding crown, and fluted case back, the original Air King is a classic time-only watch with the utmost vintage aesthetic and is equipped with the manually wound caliber 10.5 Hunter movement. It is one of Rolex’s hardest vintage watches to get hands on, as its production didn’t last very long, and it was replaced with the Air-King ref. 4499 just one year after its release.
Compared to the first Air-King ref. 4925, the most recent Air-King ref. 116900 is vastly different, although still holding fundamental similarities as a classic time-only steel watch. With a bold 40mm case, a sleek black dial with bright green accents on its seconds hand and the word “ROLEX” on top of a pop of yellow with the Rolex coronet logo – the newest Air-King is significantly more modern and eye-catching than its series of classic and more vintage predecessors. The modern Air-King was released in 2016, after the Air-King collection had been discontinued just 2 years earlier in 2014. Equipped with the Caliber 3131 moment, it has the same anti-magnetic components as the Milgauss – proving just as essential for a pilot as for a scientist.
Celebrities who are fans of the Rolex Air-King include actors Ryan Gosling, singer/songwriter Michael Bublé, and former United States Senator John McCain.
FAQs about the Air King
Q: Is Rolex Air King waterproof?
A: Yes, the Air King is waterproof. The very first Air-King ref. 4925, launched in 1945, was introduced well after the first waterproof Rolex “Oyster” watch that came out in 1926. The Rolex Air-King is water resistant for up to 100 meters in depth.
Q: What is a Rolex Air King?
A: The Rolex Air-King, nicknamed the “king of the air”, is a watch that was developed by Rolex to honor the British fighter pilots during World War II. It was created with a 34mm case and dial, which was considerably larger than average back in the day, allowing fighter pilots to easily read the time in any given situation. As one of Rolex’s older watches, it is still a popular watch choice today.
Q: Is Rolex Air King worth buying?
A: The Rolex Air-King has a long and rich history behind it, yet it’s less known than other more popular Rolex models. Introduced at the end of World War II as a tribute to the wartime pilots who fought, quickly became a hit among pilots – gradually expanding to appeal to more than just the aviation field. As one of the more moderately priced “entry level” Rolex watches, it is arguably worth buying as it is a classic in the Rolex family and is accessible to more people than other higher priced models.