Rolex Brings Back the Air-King with a Funky New Dial

The entry-level Rolex sports watch is back, with a surprisingly unorthodox look. Read on for details and official pricing.
Rolex Air-King 116900 1

For decades the Air-King was the most affordable Rolex Oyster, until it was discontinued two years ago. But now the Air-King is back with a distinctly unorthodox dial featuring oversized hour and minute indices as the ref. 116900.

Rolex Air-King 116900 6

Originating in the early 1950s as a watch evolved from the watches Rolex made for aviators in the 1930s, the Air-King was the the most affordably priced, self-winding Rolex Oyster wristwatch. Smaller than the Datejust and lacking a date function, the Air-King nonetheless carried the familiar Rolex look.

Rolex Air-King 116900 5

The new Air-King (ref. 116900), on the other hand, bears a strikingly novel look.The black dial features applied white gold hour numerals at the quarters with printed white five-minute markings – a look that is a blend of the Explorer and vintage “Compteur” stopwatches.

Rolex Air-King 116900 4

Rolex Air-King 116900 3

And to make it even more unusual, both “Rolex” and the seconds hand are in green, the company’s corporate colour, while the coronet logo is in yellow.

The stainless steel case is 40 mm in diameter, slightly larger than the Explorer. And the movement inside is the calibre 3131, self-winding with a 48 hour power reserve.

The Air-King is priced at SFr5900, only marginally more than the SFr5400 of the Oyster Perpetual 39, the identically sized and most affordable men’s Rolex Oyster.

Edit March 17, 2016: Case diameter correction and Swiss franc price added.

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