An introduction to the history of the Rolex Air-King, from the first Air-King watches released to celebrate pilots in the second world war to the latest modern classics.
An introduction to the Rolex Air King
The Rolex Air-King watch was launched in 1945 as part of its Air series; a collection of watches intended to honour the achievements of the RAF pilots involved in World War Two. The Air-King is the only one of the series that is still in production today as the other lines were discontinued in the 60s. It is a watch that is renowned for its reliability, solid construction and its easily recognisable sporty design.
Vintage Air-King watches are certainly on many collectors’ to-buy list and are also a good entry level vintage watch for those looking to start a collection. If you are looking to sell your Rolex Air-King watch then get in contact for a free valuation and complimentary sales advice from the team.
The Air-King 4499
The Oyster Air-King 4499, 6552 and 5500
Launched in 1945 as a modest 34mm sports watch, the Air-King was a sporty classic with an elegant steel case. The Oyster properties of the Air-King applied just as well to low pressure working conditions of early pilots as it did to the high-pressure environments of the deep seas. The Rolex Air-King was to pilots what the Submariner was to divers.
The first three editions of the Air-King remained largely unchanged externally, with a gradual improvement in the internal movement and a wide range of available dials. These vintage models are sought after by collectors, especially some of the rarer dial configurations.
The Rolex Air King 14000 series
The Air-King 14000 series saw the introduction of a new movement and the roll out of Rolex’s new synthetic crystal face across the line. This was a real boon for the sporty and accessible Air-King model, which could now be used casually with a much-reduced risk of damaging or scratching the crystal.
The Air-King 14000
A modern Classic: model 14200
In 2007 Rolex released the model 14200, updating a classic icon of vintage sports watches into the 21st century. The new release kept most of the classic styling but with a polished modern look and a size upgrade to match the 21st century trend for larger timepieces. The movement and shock resistance were also upgraded.
The latest generation 116900
The latest Air-King to be released was the 116900. Unveiled with a fresh faced new dial design, the Air-King 116900 keeps the traditional sporty look and block vintage number styling but gives it a modern twist with its bold colour combinations to appeal to a trendy 21st century market. Backed by Rolex’s latest movement and technology this certainly holds the mantel of modern classic.
The Air-King 114200
What to look for in your Rolex Air King watch?
- The condition of the crystal – vintage acrylic crystal was more susceptible to scratches but vintage Air-King are still sought-after.
- What dial configuration does your Air-King have? Some rarer configurations command a premium.
- Do you have the original box & papers?
- Modern Air-King models are still commercial, but with the second-hand market rather than collectors.
The Rolex Air-King is an icon of vintage Rolex markets and vintage models commands an interest from collectors of vintage watches and wartime memorabilia. For more modern models Air-King watches are an accessible step into collecting ensuring they remain commercial.
We hope we have helped you discover more about your vintage Rolex. If you are looking to sell or value your watch please get in contact for a free valuation by emailing [email protected], or alternatively use teh form below.