Today, we are reporting live from Baselworld 2016 and Rolex is introducing a new Oyster Perpetual Air-King, a watch that perpetuates the aeronautical heritage of the original Rolex Oyster. The new Air-King, with a 40 mm case in 904L steel, features a distinctive black dial with a combination of large 3, 6 and 9 numerals marking the hours and a prominent minute scale for navigational time readings. The dial bears the name Air-King in the same lettering that was designed specially for the model in the 1950s. The Air-King carries the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015, which ensures singular performance on the wrist.
The new Air-King epitomizes Rolex’s privileged ties with the world of aviation during its golden age in the 1930s. It was a period when spectacular progress in aircraft performance constantly expanded humanity’s capacity to conquer the skies, and led to the introduction of long-distance flights. One of the pioneers of this era, English aviator Charles Douglas Barnard, set a number of flight records. Of the Oyster, he said: “The peculiar qualities of this Rolex watch render it eminently suitable for flying purposes and I propose to use it on all my long-distance flights in the future”.
In 1933, Oyster watches accompanied the Houston Expedition as it made the first-ever flight over Mount Everest at an altitude exceeding 10,000 metres (33,000 feet) in extreme weather conditions. In 1934, Owen Cathcart-Jones and Ken Waller made a return voyage from London to Melbourne (Australia) in record time with a twin-engine De Havilland Comet, using a Rolex Oyster as their on-board chronometer. Today’s new Air-King pays tribute to the pioneers of flight and the Oyster’s role in the epic story of aviation.
The Air-King’s Oyster case, guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), is a paragon of robustness. Its characteristically shaped middle case is crafted from a solid block of particularly corrosion-resistant 904L steel. The fluted case back is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only Rolex watchmakers to access the movement. Fitted with the Twinlock double waterproofness system, the winding crown screws down securely against the case. The crystal is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire. The waterproof Oyster case provides optimum protection for the Air-King’s high-precision movement and is also fitted with a shield to protect against magnetic fields, a feature of pilots’ watches of the past.
The Air-King ref. 116900 is equipped with calibre 3131, a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. Its architecture, manufacturing quality and innovative features make it singularly precise and reliable. The oscillator, the true heart of the watch, has a blue Parachrom hairspring patented and manufactured by Rolex in an exclusive alloy. Insensitive to magnetic fields, the Parachrom hairspring offers great stability in the face of temperature variations and remains up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. It is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring its regularity in any position. The escapement features a paramagnetic escape wheel made from a nickel-phosphorus alloy produced via UV-LiGA (micromanufacturing by electroforming). Calibre 3131 is equipped with a self-winding module featuring a Perpetual rotor and offers a power reserve of approximately 48 hours.
More live pics coming up this week.
Sticker Price CHF 5,900 Swiss Francs —roughly $6,500 USD. For more info on Rolex click here.