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.

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.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Rolex Baselworld 2012 teaser for Sky-Dweller

Rolex signs Tiger Woods

Tudor Introduces the Black Bay Bronze

Bigger and made of bronze, the new Tudor Black Bay is also powered by an in-house, self-winding movement. Specs and price below.

Introducing the Rolex Daytona in Steel with a Black Ceramic Bezel Ref. 116500LN

Finally the iconic Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is available in stainless steel with a bezel in black Cerachrom - specs and price below.

Perhaps one of the most desirable contemporary watches, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in stainless steel is now – finally – available with a black ceramic bezel as the ref. 116500LN.

Rolex Daytona Steel Ceramic 116500 LN 6

Previously found only on precious metal Daytonas, the bezel is made of glossy black Cerachrom (Rolex lingo for ceramic) that is fade-resistant, with engraved markings coated with platinum. And in contrast to the steel bezel found on the current model, the new ceramic bezel is scratch-resistant.

Rolex Daytona Steel Ceramic 116500 LN 2

Rolex Daytona Steel Ceramic 116500 LN 3

Rolex Daytona Steel Ceramic white dial

Bezel aside, the new Cosmograph Daytona shares many of the same feature as the current models. The steel case is 40 mm in diameter and fitted on an Oyster bracelet with the spring-loaded Oysterlock clasp as well as an Easylink extension to adjust the bracelet length by 5 mm.

Inside is the calibre 4130, the in-house movement that has powered the Daytona since the year 2000. It’s an automatic calibre with the two features typical of modern high-end chronographs: column wheel and vertical clutch. And it’s also fitted with a Parachrom blue hairspring that’s resistant to magnetism.

Rolex Daytona 4130

Like the existing steel Daytona, the new ceramic bezel version is available in white or black. The white dial model has a glossy lacquered finish with black chronograph sub-dials, while the black version has dark grey registers.


And to answer a question everyone will ask: the official line at Baselworld is that the new Daytona is an addition to the line, and does not replace the existing ref. 116520 which will continue in production, though how long that will continue is unanswered.

The new Daytona is priced at SFr11,800, marginally more than the all-steel model.

Correction March 16, 2016: Amended retail price.

Addition March 24, 2016: Added info on status of ref. 116520.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Nomos Introduces the Tetra neomatik, Now Powered In-House

The latest addition to the neomatik line, square Tetra is now equipped with the in-house DUW 3001 movement. Specs and pricing below.

Having made its debut late last year, the neomatik is Nomos’ line of watches powered by the slim, in-house DUW 3001 movement. While the first series of neomatik watches were all round, the line-up included the signature Tangente and Metro, the range now includes the square Tetra, the only Nomos watch in this shape.

Nomos Tetra neomatik 2

Originally only available with a hand-wound movement based on an ETA calibre, the Tetra has now been upgraded with the DUW 3001. Just 3.2 mm high, the DUW 3001 is the slimmest movement Nomos has made.

Nomos Tetra neomatik 1

Measuring 33 mm by 33 mm, the new Tetra is available in two guises. The Tetra neomatik is a more traditional silver, with pale blue minute markings and a red seconds hand. The Tetra neomatik tiefblau (“deep blue” in English) is named after its dial colour, which has dark green minute markings and an orange seconds hand. Another detail distinguishes the new Tetras from the neomatik 1st edition – the “neomatik” lettering on the dial is a subtle gold, instead of bright orange or red.

The Tetra neomatik is priced at €2900 or US$3860, while the Tetra neomatik tiefblau is €2980 or US$3980. Prices include local taxes.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Tudor Introduces the Black Bay Bronze

Bigger and made of bronze, the new Tudor Black Bay is also powered by an in-house, self-winding movement. Specs and price below.

Introducing the Nomos neomatik 1st edition Equipped with the In-House DUW 3001 Movement (with Pricing)

Nomos has unveiled the neomatik 1st edition, a series of timepieces to mark its new automatic movement. Encompassing its signature watches like the Tangente and Metro, the neomatik 1st edition will be produced in limited numbers only in 2015. 

Baselworld 2013: Nomos 38 series, including larger Tangente

Welcome to the new Watches By SJX.

Subscribe to get the latest articles and reviews delivered to your inbox.