The Air-King is one of the least discussed models in the Rolex catalogue, but it is one of the oldest collections of Rolex (Rolex) watches, dating back to 1945. Equipped with any specific function or complication, it has always represented the entry point to Rolex ownership with its legendary reliability and minimalist feature set.
The Rolex Air-King was founded after Hans Wilsdorf, co-founder of Rolex, heard a story about a British World War II pilot who abandoned his standard field watch in favor of his personally purchased Oyster Perpetual Chronograph. Reliability. In recognition of the gallant RAF pilots who were so fond of their products, Wilsdorf decided to release a line of aviation-themed watches. Despite the wide variety of watches put on the market, only the Air-King is still in production and can still be found in the Rolex catalogue today.
The first Rolex Air-King since 1945 is reference number 4925, which incorporates many different features of Rolex’s other aviation-themed watches. A small number of Air-King references followed the 4925. however, in 1957, Rolex released a new generation of Air-King, rolex Air-King Black 116900 , which would remain in production for the next 37 years.
The model 5500 used a 34mm stainless steel Oyster case fitted with thick acrylic crystals and a matching stainless steel Oyster bracelet. Depending on the year of production and the country in which the watch was sold, the Model 5500 Air-King is equipped with either the Rolex Caliber 1520 or 1530 movement. Despite the different movements, none of the Reference 5500 Air-King watches are chronometer-certified, and therefore none of the dials display the words “Officially Certified Chronometer of the Highest Order”.
The 116900 is the latest incarnation of the Air-King and has more in common with the contemporary Rolex Milgauss than any previous Air-King generation. The 116900 shares a 40mm stainless steel case with the Milgauss and even uses the exact same internal motion shielding process as the ferromagnetic alloy that provided the Milgauss with its legendary anti-magnetic properties.
While the Air-King remains a chronograph, reference number 116900 is now fitted with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and the dial displays the words “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” to distinguish it from other timepieces. Matching. Contemporary Rolex lineup. In addition to the new COSC-related text, the dial of reference number 116900 Air-King now features bright yellow and green highlights, as well as white text and white gold hour markers for a more contemporary look.
The movement inside the reference number 116900 Air-King has also been updated and now shares the same movement as the COSC-certified Calibre 3131, which is used to power the contemporary Rolex Michaels. Caliber 3131 uses Rolex’s proprietary blue Parachrom hairspring, as well as an escapement wheel and escapement fork made of nickel phosphorus, further enhancing the watch’s overall resistance to potentially damaging magnetic forces.