The Rolex Air-King is a staple of the brand’s impressive portfolio and one of the longest-produced models. Throughout the years, Rolex has made several design changes and upgrades to the Air-King, but it has kept its classic and enduring aesthetic. The Air-King has been a fixture on the wrists of some of the most renowned pilots and aviation experts in history, including Charles Douglas Bernard.
Bob's Watches is the founder of the original pre-owned Rolex exchange. With decades of experience in the industry, Bob's Watches is one of the most trusted resellers on the market and offers a wide inventory of new and pre-owned Rolex watches, each of which comes with a one-year warranty and a certificate of authenticity. Bob’s Watches also provides top-tier customer service, including a no questions asked return policy, free overnight shipping, and a safe checkout process. Whether you are a novice buyer or an experienced collector, Bob's Watches is an excellent choice for buying a high-quality certified used Rolex watch.
"I had a great experience with Bob's. Needed some questions answered and their customer service was amazing, thank you Chase. Wasn’t sure about the features these models had and the differences between them. Decided to get an Air-King 126900 and I couldn’t be happier, fits perfectly and looks even better. Thanks Bobs."
"Absolutely love my new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air King with the blue dial. Bob's Watches is an amazing dealer. Great prices. The online buying experience was one of the best I have ever had. They made it very easy and they were wonderful to work with. I highly recommend them. Will definitely buy from them again."
"The Rolex Air-King is a legendary luxury timepiece that radiates high style and sophistication. Its minimalist design features a straight-forward dial with simple hour markers and hands, and a versatile waterproof Oyster case. With its precision automatic movement and timeless design, the Air-King is a watch that you will be proud to wear everywhere you roam."
-Paul Altieri, Founder and CEO of Bob's Watches
The Rolex Air-King is a prized collector’s item, and its value has steadily risen over the years. More recently, there has been a substantial spike in popularity for vintage Air-King models, resulting in a surge in prices. Additionally, particularly rare versions of the Air-King tend to trade hands for even higher prices in the used Rolex market.
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The Rolex Air King 5500 and 14000 are both Air King watch models made by Rolex. The primary difference between them is the period in which they were manufactured and movement used. The Rolex Air King 5500 enjoyed a long production run from the 1950s to the late 1980s and features a non-chronometer movement. Conversely, the Rolex Air King 14000 was produced from the late 1980s until the mid-2000s and boasts a chronometer-rated movement.
The Rolex Air King 116900 and 126900 are both contemporary editions of the Air King watch with the Bloodhound-inspired dial decorated with Arabic numeral hour markers and sporty Mercedes hands. What sets them apart are various changes to the dial, case, and movement. Ref. 116900 shares the same case and movement (caliber 3131) as the Milgauss, which means that it is also anti-magnetic up to 1,000 gauss. Ref. 126900 has a brand-new case developed just for the Air-King, complete with crown guards and the next-generation caliber 3230 movement with a longer power reserve. You will also spot several small differences between the hour markers on each dial.
The Rolex Air-King has a rich past and is an adored timepiece among avid collectors. Since coming to market, it has picked up several charming nicknames that reflect its legendary status in horology. Early production models were branded as the Air-Tiger, Air Giant, Air Lion, and Air-King to appeal to the collection’s target consumer audience among combat pilots. Today, the Air-King is the only air series watch that remains in production.
The Rolex Air-King has undergone several modifications and upgrades over the years, resulting in various reference models. The first Rolex to feature the distinction "Air King" on the dial was the Rolex Air-King 4925, which was released in the 1940s and had a small case size and a simple time-only design. In contrast, the Rolex Air-King 5500, which premiered in the 1950s, had a slightly larger case size and a relatively more contemporary look. Some of the model numbers in this collection include:
Rolex Air-King watches have relied on various movements throughout the collection’s production run, with significant changes popping up in the 1940s and 2000s. In the late 1940s, the Air-King transitioned from the hand-wound movements used in the first two Air-King models to automatic movements. In 2022, the Air-King received another significant upgrade with the introduction of the Calibre 3230 movement, featuring a longer 70-hour power reserve.
The Rolex Air-King has been sold in various case sizes throughout its production, ranging from what we would now consider small to large. The inaugural models had a case size of around 32mm/33mm, while later models upgraded in size to 34mm and 36mm. Recently, the Air-King was upgraded to 40mm, giving it a contemporary and sporty aesthetic.
The Rolex Air-King has been crafted in a range of premium materials since coming to market decades ago, including stainless steel and two-tone. Stainless steel has been a prevalent choice for many Air-King models, because it is durable and has a classic aesthetic. Two-tone has also been used for more extravagant editions of the watch, adding an extra level of opulence to this iconic collection.
Learn more about the collection by visiting our Rolex Air-King Ultimate Buying Guide.
The cheapest Rolex watch on the market is the Oyster Perpetual, which has a starting price of around $5,000. However, the price of a Rolex watch can vary depending on factors such as the model, materials used, and rarity of the watch. Vintage Rolex watches can also command high prices, sometimes exceeding those of newer models.
The price of the Rolex Air-King varies depending on factors such as the model, year produced, and condition of the watch. As of 2023, a brand-new Rolex Air-King at retail is considered an entry-level professional series model, while vintage models can command upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. Rare versions of the Air-King resell for even higher prices among collectors in-the-know. However, in general, the Air-King is one of the most affordable Rolex watches on the secondary market.
Whether or not the Rolex Air-King is worth buying comes down to the collector’s personal preferences and cost. The Air-King is an iconic collection with a long history and enduring design, making it a top choice among luxury watch aficionados. However, its price point may not be justifiable for every collector, and there are also many other renowned watch brands and models for sale on the market.
While the Rolex Air-King is a well-known collection, some models can be deemed rare due to limited inventory or unusual features. Vintage Rolex Air-King watches from the 1940s and 1950s, for example, are coveted among enthusiasts and can be hard to come by on the secondary market.