The Rolex Air-King was first introduced in the year 1943 marking tribute to British Royal Air Force pilots. It was to mark the beginning of a series of pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain. A brief look into the history tells us that during World War II, Rolexes were used by R.A.F. pilots for two reasons of their relatively large size and reliability. Since 1945, Air-King series has come through rebirths and makeovers to become Rolex’s entry-level model.
In 2016, Rolex re-introduced the Air-King with a different stylised version. The only similar thing to the previous watches was the AIR-KING stamp on the dial. The few things that stand out upon looking at the watch are the bold Rolex logo, the green second hand, the white-gold 3-6-9 markers, and the O.G. AIR-KING. It is sized around 40mm steel Oyster case thus making it a powerhouse of watches. The Air-King watches have a screw-down crown and a black dial. The numerals are applied white-gold, with quarter-hour marks as traditional 3, 6, and 9 Arabic numerals.
Still touted as pilot’s watched, there’s an anti-magnetic inner case, it’s a classic vintage piece for those who love vintage. The Air-King series is one of Rolex’s longest running line up models. The series included three types vis Air-Lion, Air-Tiger, and Air-Giant. The Air-King outsold the other two watches in the range.
The first makeover given to Rolex Air-King was in 1953, with the “transitional” Ref. 6552 model. The second one was in 1957 with the Air-King Ref. 5500. Air-King the most affordable Rolex line-ups was briefly discontinued in 2014 and reborn in 2016 as the Ref. 116900. With the most affordable price tag, US$ 6500, Air-King seems like an easy option.