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Rolex Air-King

Rolex Air-King 14000 Blue (click to enlarge!)
Rolex Air-King 14000 Blue
© Rolex

Air-King is a brand of less-expensive simple watches produced by Rolex since 1945.


Rolex produced a number of “Air” models during and after World War II, including the “Air-Giant”, “Air-Lion”, and “Air-Tiger”, but it was the 1945 introduction of the Air-King that would leave a lasting mark. These were named to honor the British Royal Air Force, which were enamored with Rolex watches. At the time, the 34 mm case was considered quite large, thus the “Air-King” name.

The first Air-King references appeared in the 1940s and used various hand-winding hunter movements. This included the original Ref. 4925 (and the similar Ref. 4365 which was sometimes given other names) as well as the follow-on Ref. 4499.


In 1953, Rolex introduced the Cal. 1030 Oyster Perpetual Air-King, Ref. 6552. This was the first automatic version and served as a transitional model through that decade.


The truly iconic Air-King reference, 5500, appeared in 1957. It featured all the elements we now know A clean bezel, simple dial and markers, pencil hands, and no complications. Combined with a Oyster bracelet, the Air-King Ref. 5500 would remain a cornerstone of the company's product line for an amazing 37 years. These watches were fitted with the simple and reliable Cal. 1530 (“Super Precision”) or Cal. 1520 (“Precision”).

A companion model, Air-King-Date, Ref. 5700, remains the only model with any complication. It was produced from 1958 until the 1980s but is somewhat rarer than more ordinary Rolex Datejust models. A larger 35 mm Air-King for export markets, Ref. 5504, was also produced beginning in the 1950s. And a 34 mm Air-King, Ref. 5520, was available in some markets from 1974 to 1986.


Rolex Air-King 14010 (click to enlarge!)
Rolex Air-King 14010
© Rolex

In 1989, Rolex introduced a new Air-King Ref. 14000. This used the company's updated Cal. 3000 but remained the same small, simple watch. One major change was made at this time, however The Explorer-style “3-6-9” dial was made available in addition to the traditional stick markers. An additional reference, Ref. 14010, debuted as well with a decorative engine-turned bezel, highly unusual for the Air-King line. This reference was refreshed as Ref. 14000M in 2000 with Cal. 3130 but remained mostly unchanged otherwise. Some models also featured Roman Numerals inside the stick markings.


The Air-King was updated again in 2007 as Ref. 114200. This time, most models featured Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9, and many had numerals at every position except 12. The old stick marker dial was no more, though one with sticks and Roman Numerals remained. Inside, Cal. 3130 brought COSC chronometer certification to the Air-King range. In addition to the decorative engine-turned bezel on Ref. 114210, a new Ref. 114234 added a fluted bezel like higher-end Rolex models. The Air-King name was discontinued in 2014, replaced by a new Oyster Perpetual model.


In 2016, Rolex re-launched the Air-King line with an all-new larger watch for modern times. The new Ref. 116900 shares its case with the Milgauss Ref. 116400, including the inner magnetic-resistant shell and comparatively massive 40 mm dimensions. The dial features the 3-6-9 numerals as well as a highly-unusual 5-10, 20-25, 35-45, 50-55 arrangement between. Unusually, only a single reference is produced, with a black dial.


Rolex Air-King 126900 (click to enlarge!)
Rolex Air-King 126900
© Rolex

The “New Air-King” was presented on the Watches & Wonders 2022. It is equipped with the calibre Rolex 3230, which was released in 2020 and was fitted on this model from 2022.

Rolex 3230 (click to enlarge!)
Rolex 3230
© Rolex

Calibre 3230 incorporates the patented Chronergy escapement, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields. The movement is fitted with an optimized blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy that makes it up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed, patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.



Year Model/Reference Features Calibre
1945Ref. 4925 Cal 10.5'
Ref. 4365 Cal 10.5'
1946Ref. 4499 Cal 10.5'
1953Ref. 6552 Cal 1030
1957-1989Ref. 5500 Cal 1520/1530
1958-1980sAir-King-Date Ref. 5700 Cal 1525/1535
Ref. 5701Two-tone case
1958Air-King (export) Ref. 5504 35 mm case Cal 1530
Ref. 5501Two-tone fluted bezel
Ref. 5502Gold plated
Ref. 5506Gold plated
1974-1986Air-King (export) Ref. 5520 34 mm gold filled case Cal 1520
1989-2000Ref. 14000 Cal 3000
Ref. 14010Decorative bezel
2000-2007Ref. 14000M Cal 3130
Ref. 14010MDecorative bezel
2007-2014Ref. 114200 Cal 3130 COSC chronometer
Ref. 114210Decorative bezel
Ref. 114234Fluted bezel
2016-2022Ref. 116900 40 mm case, Milgauss case,
numerals: 5-10-3-20-25-6-35-40-9-50-55
Cal. 3131
2022-Ref. 126900 40 mm, crown guards, luminescent numerals
numeral 5 → 05
Cal. 3230, 70 h power reserve
rolex_air-king.txt · Last modified: 03.07.2022 15:37 by

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