The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King ref. 116900 was without a doubt, one of the most surprising releases by the 'Green Giant' during Baselworld 2016 earlier this year. Along with the new Daytona with Cerachrom bezel ref. 116500LN we featured here, the new Rolex Air-King ref. 116900 was the other watch at the Rolex booth that took most of the attention from journalists, retailers and collectors. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King 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.
Per Rolex, the new Air-King epitomizes Rolex’s ties with the world of aviation during the 1930s. During this era, one of the pioneers of aviation, English aviator Charles Douglas Barnard, set a number of flight records and stated that his Rolex Oyster watch was perfectly suited for flying and that he would be using it on all of his long-distance flights. Therefore, in 1933, Rolex Oyster watches accompanied the Houston Expedition as it made the first-ever flight over Mount Everest at an altitude exceeding 10,000 meters.
The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King ref. 116900 features a matte dial —matte and finished like a chalkboard— with applied hour numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock that at times and depending on light conditions it looks glossy. To complete the dial, the new Air-King features a white minute scale for 'navigational time readings' as referred to by Rolex, a striking green seconds hand, the Rolex logo in green with a yellow coronet and the 'Air-King' writing in the same font as the original model designed in the 1950s.
The Case & Crown
The new Rolex Air-King ref. 116900 is fitted with a 904L stainless steel case measuring 40 mm in diameter and paired with the signature Rolex Oyster bracelet and a smooth polished bezel. 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.
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. 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.
The beating heart inside the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King ref. 116900 is the automatic in-house calibre 3131. This movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex is one of the most robust and accurate calibres out there with a power reserve of 48 hours when fully wound. Like all Rolex Perpetual movements, the calibre 3131 is a certified Swiss chronometer that have successfully passed the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute —COSC— tests.
On the Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the watch wears true to its size and with nice wrist presence. The new Air-King is a perfect watch for daily wear and perfectly suited for those that couldn't care less about having a date on their timepieces. For some reason, the green and yellow accents on the dial make this watch perfect for a tennis match setting or a simple easy-going day in the Hamptons.
Sticker Price $6,200 USD. For more info on Rolex click here.