As one of the oldest Rolex models, the Rolex Air-King has a storied history. The history of the Rolex Air-King begins in 1945 during World War II. During the war, many pilots began replacing their army issued watch with a Rolex watch, appreciating the simplicity of its dial and its precise timekeeping. At the end of the war, Hans Wilsdorf decided to honor the pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain and created a line of watches that feature several “Air” models. Of these models, the Rolex Air King is the only model that is still in production.
These watches were made with a diameter of 32 and 34mm, which were large sizes at that time, making it easy for pilots to quickly read the time on the dial. As a part of the Oyster Perpetual line, the Air King embodies the origins of Rolex: simplicity, elegance, and precision. Its dial is kept clean, only showing the hours, minutes, and seconds. Except for a limited edition Air King model, the watch does not come equipped with a date window. It was also the first watch to feature the engine turned bezel. Adding to its functionality, the Rolex Air King was also equipped with a waterproof case that can reach depths of 100 meters.
The early Air King models were equipped with a hunter movement, but, forty or so years after its introduction, the Air King’s original hunter movement was replaced with an automatic movement. The Rolex Air King is structured of stainless steel to keep the watch sturdy. It is available with a fluted, domed, or engine-turned bezel and can have a silver, black, white, or blue dial. They are also available with a 31mm, 34mm, or 36mm in diameter for men and 26mm diameter for ladies.
This Rolex Air King 5500 is circa 1966. It features a self-winding chronometer movement, as well as a black dial, stainless steel case, domed bezel, and Oyster bracelet. The 5500 model is one of the most coveted models. Its stainless steel case and bracelet along with the simple black dial make this watch the perfect piece for any occasion, whether formal or casual.
This Rolex Air King 14010M is circa 2002 and features a beautiful silver dial. The stainless steel case in 34 mm in diameter and it houses an automatic caliber 3130 movement. All model numbers ending in -10 signify that the watch has an engine-turned bezel.
Vintage Rolex Air King watches are highly coveted because of the classic appearance, as well as their rich history. The Rolex Air King is an extremely versatile watch. Its simple design allows it to be worn with any casual outfit. However, it can also be worn with a suit because of its clean and sophisticated case, bracelet, and dial.
The Air King line of watches has a wide range of movements. The least expensive of the Rolex models, starting at a price of around $5,000 USD, and the smallest in diameter, the Rolex Air King is the perfect watch to purchase when starting a luxury watch collection. The Rolex Air King is made for the man looking for a finely crafted piece with a timeless design and one who appreciates quality and fine craftsmanship. Remaining relatively unchanged throughout its history, the Rolex Air King is a staple piece in the Rolex family.