Rolex Air King 116900 Review

The Rolex Air-King started ticking in the 1940s, and for most of its very long history, was the simplest Rolex there was.

With no date, a screw-down crown, an Oyster case and chronometer movement, it had everything that made a Rolex, a Rolex. It was the Rolex for purists and for those new to the brand, until it was discontinued in 2014.

In 2016, the Air-King returned – in a much more extroverted style. The newer Air-King 40 reference 116900 is definitely not your father’s Rolex Air-King.

This quirky Rolex was launched to polarizing opinions; but has since made its way to many wrists. We took another look at this 5-year-old watch and below, we tell you the reasons why we love it.


Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air King Black Dial Steel Watch 116900


1. New modern size

The bigger case size of the Air-King 116900 was one of the far more accepted changes to it. Older versions of the Air-King measured 34mm, which is small by today’s standards.

By using the same 40mm case as the Rolex Milgauss, the new Air-King has the same size and proportions as most of Rolex’s sport watches. Its thickness also gives it more presence on the wrist – a solid reminder that this watch is now part of Rolex’s Professional line.



Bloodhound Super Sonic Car dash clocks, made by Rolex


2. A cool background story

The Air-King 116900’s quirky looks also come from a very cool inspiration. Back in 2006, Rolex worked on a project with the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car – a vehicle powered by a turbojet engine, which aims to beat the land speed record of 763 mph. The company created a bespoke pair of dash clocks for the vehicle, which strikes a resounding resemblance to the dial of the Air-King ref 116900.

The Bloodhound SSC project eventually came to an end, now replaced by the Bloodhound Land Speed Record project — independent of Rolex but still with an aim to break the world land speed record. Regardless, this makes for an interesting tidbit for Rolex fans who might be both car and watch fanatics.



Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air King Black Dial Steel Watch 116900


3. Unconventional but versatile design

The more extroverted style of the Air-King 116900 is reflected in its dial, which is uncharacteristically Rolex.

Let’s start with the logo – for the first time in the company’s history, the crown and signature were printed in two different colors: the crown in yellow, the Rolex signature in green.

It also comes with three different types of indexes: applied markers on the 3, 6 and 9 position like the Rolex Explorer’s, 5-minute printed white markers for the rest of the dial and an applied white luminous triangle at 12 o’clock. A green seconds hand complements the Rolex signature; and an expressive Air-King font appears below the hands.

Despite the overall bold new details, the black dial blends the different design elements well, and the stainless steel case makes it very wearable for most occasions.



Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air King Black Dial Steel Watch 116900


4. Anti-magnetic capabilities

In addition to its case, the Air-King 116900 also borrows its movement from the Rolex Milgauss: the caliber 3131. Aside from containing components that are unaffected by magnetism such as the blue Parachrom hairspring and nickel phosphorus lever, the movement is also housed inside a Faraday cage to protect the movement from magnetic interference.



Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air King Black Dial Steel Watch 116900


5. Value for money

Now solidly built with a 40mm case and anti-magnetic capabilities, the Air-King is not an entry-level watch anymore but a tool watch. Even with the same exact movement as the Rolex Milgauss, and being a touch bigger than the Rolex Explorer, the Air-King 116900 is priced well below these sport models – giving you a lot of bang for your buck.



The unique and rather interesting design of the Rolex Air-King 40mm ref 116900, coupled with its technical chops, makes it a perfect choice for the Rolex fan who wants to stand out. Get yours today at





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