The Rolex Air-King was introduced to the market in 1958, but like so many other current Rolex models, its lineage can be traced back many years prior. The 1930s mark a period in history of air exploration and aviation achievement. The Houston Expedition took place in 1933 wherein Sir Douglas Douglas-Hamilton and David McIntyre piloted an open-cab plane over Mt. Everest for the first time. A second expedition over Mt. Everest took place one year later, and both times a Rolex watch was used for timekeeping onboard.
The release of the Air-King pays homage to these two and the many other expeditions of this time. The earlier models of the Air-King bear a resemblance to the Rolex Explorer with a similar 3, 6, 9 numeral layout. This dial layout helped to make the Explorer especially legible, and the thought-process was the same for the Air-King. Rolex distinguished the Air-King models from the Explorers by adding “Air-King” on the dial under the Rolex logo. This layout is still a characteristic that the Air-King and Explorer share to this day.
Characteristics of the Air-King
Over time, the Air-King has maintained a simple, clean look until 2007 when more colors and iterations of the Air-King were introduced. This timepiece withstands high altitudes and is anti-magnetic, a unique quality to the watch. It uses Rolex’s 3131 movement, which is the same movement used in the Milgauss. Because the Air-King is a pilot’s watch, it must be able to withstand magnetic flight instruments.
It features an Oysterclasp, and lume at the triangle at 12 o’clock, but not within the 3, 6, and 9 numerals, which can make it difficult to read in the dark. Discover popular pre-owned Air-King references such as the 14010 and 114200.