The King is Dead – Long Live The King!

Ross Povey tracks the lineage of Rolex’s most regal Oyster, the Air King, and discovers its reign has been nothing short of remarkable.

The Air King has always had a special place in my heart. A reference 5500 Air King was my first vintage Rolex and it’s still a watch that I cherish and wear regularly. Many years ago the Air King was viewed as an entry level to the Rolex league, but over the past few years the watch has been given a new lease of life with collectors appreciating the watch as a classic Oyster of classic proportions. It is a particularly fun watch to collect due to the plethora of dial variants that appeared in the watch over its lengthy lifespan. And many view the latest iteration to be something of a future classic…

     

     

    The Air King name was first used in 1945 and has had a constant presence in the Rolex line up until 2014, making it one of the most enduring Rolex models thanks to its near 70 year long run. Hans Wilsdorf created the ‘Air…’ series to celebrate the heroic pilots that took part in the Battle of Britain. Names used included Air Lion, Air Giant, Air King and on Tudors the Air Tiger. Ultimately only the King survived with its unique font and decades of variations, double-signed dials and forays into the super league of sports watches.

     

     

    Contributor

    Ross Povey

    Published

    July 2020

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