The Rolex Air-King, for most of its very long history, was the simplest, least expensive Rolex, but also in some ways the purist’s Rolex. With no date, a 100 m water resistant case, screw-down crown, and chronometer certification, it had every essential attribute that makes a Rolex a Rolex, with no distractions. In 2014, however, it was discontinued, and its status as the entry level Rolex as well as the purist’s Rolex was taken in 2015 by a new version of the Oyster Perpetual. In 2016, however, the Air-King returned and it is emphatically not your father’s Air-King. With a 40 mm case, new “Superlative Chronometer” certification, complete overhaul to the dial, and the same arrangements for resistance to magnetism as the Milgauss, it may be an Air-King in name, but in the hand and on the wrist, it’s an almost entirely new watch.
The Black dial rolex oyster perpetual air king replica watch ref. 116900 features a dial very similar to that on the Rolex Explorer I ref. 214270 we reviewed here; but this time, including a white minute scale with white numerals. The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King ref. 116900 features a black glossy dial with applied hour numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.
The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King ref. 116900 is fitted with the legendary Oyster bracelet with satin-brushed finish. The bracelet features solid links throughout and is fitted with a folding Oysterclasp equipped with the Easylink system that allows the wearer to extend the last link on the bracelet by 5 mm.
The watch is waterproof to 100 meters and its movement is properly protected by its Twinlock screw-down crown and its screwed-in solid case back. The watch is fitted with a sapphire crystal with Rolex’s etched coronet at 6 o’clock. Perhaps the biggest difference of this clasp versus all other modern clasps on Rolex Sports models, is that the Rolex coronet —crown— is this time embossed on bas-relief —low-relief— opposed to being applied and soldered to the clasp.
In fact, it’s such a departure from what we’ve all gotten used to thinking of as an Air-King that I almost wish Rolex had named it something else. The retention of the Air-King name means that you have to struggle a little when you first see pictures of the watch – or when you start wearing it – to see it as its own thing, instead of through the veil of years of exposure to something else that had the same name. What is the same, however – Rolex being pretty good at not totally disrupting the connection of any of its watches to earlier models in particular, and to the basic design codes of the company in particular – is the Air-King logo, as if to reassure the skittish that underneath it all, the Air-King is the same purist’s watch you knew and loved once upon a time.