Air-King 114200

Discussion in 'Watch Reviews' started by shandy, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. shandy

    shandy

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    Hello Folks. I thought I would post a review of my new Rolex Air-King so that you can see and get an idea of this understated beauty. But first a brief pictorial history of the Air-King and it's siblings. This is by no means complete and is just to give an idea of the lineage. I found these pictures on the web so thank you to whomever posted them in the first place!

    The first in line from my research is the Air Tiger but I could not find pictures of those so we will start the ball rolling with the Air lion and Air Giant from the early 1940's
    Air Lion.
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    Air Giant.
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    We then have the earliest Air-King I could find the 4499 from 1940
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    The 4925 from 1945.
    [​IMG]

    Then we get into the 1950's with the 6552 which for me heralds the modern Air King the closest, from whence the new Design heralds I feel.
    [​IMG]

    Now we are getting somewhere! The 5504 which I feel in this incarnation is the closest vintage Air-King to my modern day one! Just look at the dial details in comparison to the dial on my watch. This is what I love about Rolex and what makes them so special, they acknowledge and incorporate their heritage, wonderful!

    [​IMG]

    And in comparison, bang up to date!
    [​IMG]

    So that is a brief and very incomplete photo history of the Air line of Rolex Watches and now on to present day!

    As many of you know my Air-King was the most wonderful and generous gift of fellow forum member and my very good friend Carl. Since this watch became mine on Saturday night I have become absorbed by it like no other watch I have owned before.

    I think this is why I started with a pictorial history for that is one of the reasons this watch is, I feel, such an important member of the Rolex line-up.
    Kudos to Rolex for not super-sizing the case or altering the simplicity of this watch too far from how it started out. For I think, in this busy, "sophisticated" world there is a place for timeless good design. For comfort, for getting the job done with the minimum of drama or fuss or "look at me, I'm special" and for me, the Air-King epitomizes those ideals.

    Here we have a tried and true Caliber 3130 a workhorse of a movement that due I believe to the lack of date complication gives superb accuracy (brief tests by me show my particular watch to be -2 seconds since Saturday.

    I know 34mm will put some folks off but in truth once you get re-aquainted with the traditional sized mens watches there is no going back I feel. The great thing with this size is comfort. One simply does not know the watch is on the wrist. It slips underneath shirt cuffs, never snagging and yet the dial is as legible as watches I have owned that are 10mm bigger in diameter.

    The new bracelet on this watch is, along with my Galbee, the most comfortable metal bracelet I have worn with a watch. I have all the links in and the micro adjustment in the middle. The one finger under the clasp test is passed with this setting and even though the case is smaller due to the flat case back and weight of the 904 steel the watch head plants itself on the top of the wrist and once ones initial body moisture builds it is stuck like glue!

    This is the cheapest of the mens watches in the Rolex line up and one would assume they would skimp somewhere but not so! The steel is the same as that on the Daytona 904L and I have always found that particular formula gives an almost white gold colour which I love. Likewise the indices and Arabic numerals and hands are of white gold and the dial is as exquisitely finished as that on Day Dates or Date Justs.

    I have always loved Rolex sunburst blue dials, for me the best blue dial on the market but when I saw this watch last year when Carl purchased it I fell in love with the tone of silver they use on this dial. Due to the sunburst effect the dial colour can change from a dark steel grey or Rhodium to a light champagne.

    You would think that the white gold hands and numerals would be hard to read against such a dial but not so, due I think to the deep shine and lustre the hands and numerals are easily read.. Even with these well used 48 year old eyes and even without my reading glasses!

    The case is the classic oyster case which means it hugs the wrist beautifully and the 19mm end links on the bracelet ensure the case shoulders are a little more narrow for even greater comfort.

    Is there anything I would change? Simply, No! I feel Rolex have done a superb job with this watch. They honour the past and their history by keeping the case size to 34mm. They give more than a gentle nod to their vintage dials in the modern models. The movement is super accurate and having a longer second hand one hardly notices the second hand stutter present in all mechanical watches. Though not a sport watch the lume is wonderful, very powerful and lasts as long as any lume on a Rolex.

    If you are wanting a watch that clearly gives more than a passing glance to heritage, if you want a watch that is elegant, robust (remember this watch is water resistant to 100m) and will last a lifetime in terms of both reliability and style then this may be the watch for you!

    I hope you enjoyed my review as much as I enjoyed writing it. Here are some photos of my Air-King to close, Thanks for reading!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    Attached Files:

  2. Carl

    Carl

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    Ian,
    A wonderful tribute to Air-King! Lots of time and effort put into that one. After all the years, changes, updates it is still a gorgeous timepiece.
    Cheers :cheers:
    Carl
  3. Pete17

    Pete17

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    Thanks for taking the time to put that review together Ian. The Air King is often overlooked and under rated.
    Also has one very long lineage.

    Sweet watch mate.

    Sent from my Droid
  4. SPACE-DWELLER

    SPACE-DWELLER

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    Fantastic review, Ian! :worship:

    Thanks for sharing! :goodpost:
  5. colemanitis

    colemanitis

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    Wonderful review! :happy: The AK is a great looking watch! :thumbsup:
  6. Vincent65

    Vincent65

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    great thread and review Ian, thanks for that, and enjoy your new watch!
  7. shandy

    shandy

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    what wonderful comments, thank you so much guys. I loved reading about the airking. In fact I have just seen that James Dowling's book is available at the library here so I think I will pay it a visit, sadly not available to take home but will pass a pleasant hour or two there I think.
  8. Baco Noir

    Baco Noir

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    I had no idea about the Air-Tiger, Air-Lion, and Air-Giant. The Air-Lion and Air-King with the waffle dial are my favorites of the vintage models. Great write-up Ian. :worship:
  9. daveathall

    daveathall

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    Wonderful review Ian, enjoy your stunning new watch in the very best of health. :thumbsup:
  10. Tunneller

    Tunneller

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    Thank you for a wonderful review.

    Rob
  11. Goldbug

    Goldbug

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    An excellent review Ian!! Another :goodpost:

    I, too, had no idea there was an Air Tiger, Air Lion and Air Giant. Learn something new everyday and appreciate you taking the time to put together the information.


    John
  12. shandy

    shandy

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    Thanks so much John, It actually has started something in me. I am loving finding out about Rolex history, it has so much of it and they have done some really noble things in the past which are quite wonderful.
  13. shandy

    shandy

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    Roger. Found a picture of the Air Tiger!

    air_tiger.jpg

    it's a beauty eh!
  14. Baco Noir

    Baco Noir

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    Very nice! I'd still go for the Lion, but all of these vintage pieces are incredible. Can't believe I am seeing them for the first time.
  15. shandy

    shandy

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    Sent you a PM with some links Roger.
  16. joe100

    joe100

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    What a great gift!

    I'm an air traffic controller and pilot and I find the AK to be exactly what I need.
  17. Dshiu

    Dshiu

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    Hi everybody, I'm new to the whole rolex collection but ever since I was a kid all I've heard we this brand for time pieces and I find them simply gorgeous compared to other brands but that's maybe I don't know much about watches.

    So I'm thinking of purchases a Pre owned watch start off my collection. I'm not too into vintage, I guess I like the modern design more, a more young feel too it. I'm looking at either a air king 14000m or a 142000 but I'm not sure which is more worth for the buck! As I'm still very new to this. I was actually interested in the 08-11 explorer II 16570/216570 but the price on it was too high for me to start off but re a indefinite piece ill have to get my hands on. As for now I want to see how a Rolly would feel like.

    Any suggestions or updates would be great. Thankss
  18. iwcafficionado

    iwcafficionado

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    Wonderful choice and review congratulations
  19. Tomsteve

    Tomsteve

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    Ian,

    A excellent and informative information to Air-King from beginning to till time. You have already put lots of effort and time here so i would say again Excellent for your contribution here.

    Regards
    Tom
  20. Scot

    Scot

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    Sir, Thanks for the walk through time. Your Air King is an absolute jewel.
    Scot