* Prices may differ from that shown
I'm a huge fan of watches, and this is one of three Rolex watches I've owned over the last 3 or 4 years, swapping and chopping when I get bored.
The Air King is basically known as an entry level model. It's a very plain looking 3 hand watch with standard automatic analogue display.
There are various dial combinations to go for; some very dull, some interesting and eye-catching but discreet dials, and some that look a bit wild (the concentric circles one gives me a headache).
I have to say that mine was a fairly standard silver dial similar to the one shown.
Before we go much further, I'll just say that I didn't pay the multi-thousand pound asking price for mine, I picked up a beautiful vintage model (1971) for slightly under the 4 figure mark. It was indistinguishable from a new model in all but the bracelet (tapered rather than straight).
That's the beauty of Rolex, almost all of their core range of sport and dress watches have remained almost unchanged since original launch.
For example, the Air King was branded in the 1950's, coming off the back of the standard Oyster Perpetual watches used during and after WW2. over half a century on, the watch has had 2, maybe 3 slight face-lifts where the glass has been upgraded (now all new Rolex use super strong Sapphire Crystal), the movement has been tweaked and refined and the case has been brought up to date with slightly bulkier dimensions (I believe there is talk of making them all 36mm rather than 34mm)
The 'Oyster Perpetual' which graces the dial of all Rolex sport models simply denotes the simple two piece 'Oyster' case which is totally airtight and rated water resistant to 100 meters (and beyond), and perpetual signifies the automatic movement, which keeps the watch fully wound and running 'perpetually' as long as it is in motion.
The latest Airking used the incredibly accurate '3130' movement, developed in-house by Rolex themselves and incorporating dozens of ingenious innovations such as parachrom hairspring engineered and built to be shock resistant and anti magnetic rather than conventional wound steel. Rolex are constantly working to improve technology within the watch. Quite often thousands of pounds will have gone into the design of components overlooked by 99% of watch houses!
My vintage Airking used a slightly less accurate 1520 movement which produced 19,800 BPH (beats per hour) as opposed to the current offering, which produces 28,800 BPH, but I have to say that even as a 40 year old watch, mine ran withing COSH (chronometer) standards, meaning that it neither gained nor lost more than 6 seconds in a single day. Superb accuracy for any watch, let alone a vintage.
While I'd like to say that I enjoyed owning this watch, it was a bit small for my tastes. I foolishly bought it for the name on the dial rather than a feeling that I couldn't live without it. I have to feel a passion before parting with that sort of money now.
34mm is far too small for a modern Gents wristwatch in my opinion, which is why I lean towards Omega watches as a vintage choice - they wear much bigger.
Also, while it was fun to show off in the pub it did attract some unwanted attention. The local idiots were far too curious as to its authenticity and more often than not I lied and passed it off as a fake - which most people thought it was anyway. That's a big problem with expensive watches, most people will believe (or want to believe) that it's a cheap fake regardless, which is why I now buy watches for ME, not for them or the prestige I might feel wearing it.
I owned this watch for close to a year before selling it on for almost what I paid - and that's one of the few great things about second hand and vintage watches; barely any depreciation!
Would I recommend one of these older Rolex watches? Yes I think so, and to a collector definitely. They can still be found around the £1000 mark and that's a great price which the watch will certainly hold - prices are creeping up slowly, but be assured that they'll never go down!
Would I recommend someone buying a new one? Probably not. The price tag is now approaching the £4,000 mark and I just think there are other brands which offer a LOT more watch for that sort of money. The depreciation hits these lower end models hard, and you'd be lucky to see half you're money back after buying new, but you could easily wear one 'depreciation free' for a year, and that can't be a bad thing at all!