The Sky's The Limit: Rolex Celebrates The Pioneers Of Aviation


The new-generation Oyster Perpetual Air-King. — Photos: Rolex

A tribute to explorers of the skies, Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King celebrates the pioneers of aviation.

The 1930s was a period when spectacular progress in aircraft performance saw the expansion of humanity’s capacity to conquer the skies, which led to the introduction of long-distances flights.

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King symbolises the privileged relationship between the brand and flying during this golden age of aviation, paying tribute to the pilots of the era and the Oyster’s role in their epic story.

While several pilots set records while wearing an Oyster, others used a Rolex watch as an on-board chronometer, such as Owen Cathcart-Jones and Ken Waller, who, in 1934, made a return voyage from London (United Kingdom) to Melbourne (Australia) in record time with a twin-engine De Havilland Comet.

The name “Air-King” has featured on the dial since its launch in 1958, in lettering that makes the model immediately recognisable.

Since 2016, the Air-King has had a distinctive black dial with a combination of large 3, 6 and 9 numerals marking the hours and a prominent minutes scale for optimal navigational time readings. The green seconds hand echoes the brand’s emblematic colour.

The new-generation Oyster Perpetual Air-King features a completely redesigned case with a crown guard and straight sides like the majority of Professional category models.

Also revisited are the proportions of the Oyster bracelet, and notably the centre link has been broadened. In a first for the model, it is equipped with an Oysterlock safety clasp.

The watch’s display has been refreshed and is perfectly balanced thanks to the addition of a ‘0’.The watch’s display has been refreshed and is perfectly balanced thanks to the addition of a ‘0’.

The watch’s display has also been refreshed and is perfectly balanced thanks to the addition of a “0” before the “5” on the minutes scale. Each five-minute interval is, therefore, now marked by two digits.

In addition, the new-generation Air-King benefits from an optimised Chromalight display, guaranteeing maximum legibility in dark conditions. The hands and triangular hour marker at 12 o’clock are filled or coated with a new luminescent material that provides a longer-lasting intense glow.

The 3, 6 and 9 numerals, which were previously made entirely from 18 ct white gold, are now also visible in the dark thanks to this innovative material, which is exclusive to Rolex.

The new-generation Air-King is equipped with calibre 3230, a movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology, enabling it to display the hours, minutes and seconds. Like all Rolex watches, the watch carries the Superlative Chronometer certification, which ensures excellent performance on the wrist.

A completely redesigned case with a crown guard and straight sides.A completely redesigned case with a crown guard and straight sides.

A symbol of waterproofness

A paragon of robustness and reliability, the 40 mm Oyster case of the new-generation Air-King is guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 m (330 ft).

Its middle case is crafted from a solid block of Oystersteel, a particularly corrosion-resistant alloy, while its case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only Rolex watchmakers to access the movement.

The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproofness system and protected by an integral crown guard, screws down securely against the case. The crystal is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire and benefits from an anti-reflective coating.

Perpetual calibre 3230

The new-generation Air-King is equipped with calibre 3230, a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex that was released in 2020 and is fitted on this model from 2022.

At the forefront of watchmaking technology, this self-winding mechanical movement led to the filing of several patents, and offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.

Calibre 3230 incorporates the patented Chronergy escapement, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields.

Perpetual calibre 3230 is at the heart of the new-generation Air-King.Perpetual calibre 3230 is at the heart of the new-generation Air-King.

The movement is fitted with an optimised blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed, patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.

Calibre 3230 is equipped with a self-winding module via a Perpetual rotor. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of calibre 3230 extends to approximately 70 hours.

Oyster bracelet and Oysterlock safety clasp

Developed at the end of the 1930s, the three-piece link Oyster bracelet remains the most universal bracelet in the Oyster Perpetual collection and is known for its robustness.

The Oyster bracelet on this new watch features the Rolex-designed, patented Oysterlock folding safety clasp, which prevents accidental opening. It is also equipped with the Easylink comfort extension link, developed by the brand, which allows the wearer to easily adjust the bracelet length by approximately 5 mm. In addition, a concealed attachment system ensures seamless visual continuity between the bracelet and case.

The Oyster bracelet is fitted with an Oysterlock folding safety clasp to prevent accidental opening.The Oyster bracelet is fitted with an Oysterlock folding safety clasp to prevent accidental opening.

Superlative Chronometer certification

Like all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual Air-King is covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This designation testifies that every watch leaving the brand’s workshops has successfully undergone a series of tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories according to its own criteria, following the official certification of the movements by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).

The in-house certification tests apply to the fully assembled watch, after casing the movement, guaranteeing superlative performance on the wrist in terms of precision, power reserve, waterproofness and selfwinding.

The precision of a Rolex Superlative Chronometer is of the order of −2/+2 seconds per day – the rate deviation tolerated by the brand for a finished watch is significantly smaller than that accepted by COSC for official certification of the movement alone. The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolised by the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee.

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