Rolex draws on its aviation history with the new Oyster Perpetual Air-King

Increased legibility and rethought proportions characterise the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King

rolex watch
(Image credit: press)

Rolex builds on a rich aviation history with the release of the new Oyster Perpetual Air-King. The new model rethinks a classic watch design, with straight sides and a crown guard redrawing the parameters of the case.

Proportions have also been rethought, with the three-piece link bracelet made broader and now equipped with the Oysterlock safety clasp for the first time for increased robustness. Further reassurance comes with the new guaranteed waterproof depth of 100m, while the middle section of the case is created from a solid block of Oystersteel – Rolex’s own strong steel alloy with corrosion-resistant properties – which adds to the toughness of the whole. The case back is attached with screws only accessible by Rolex watchmakers.

New Rolex Air-King watch

(Image credit: press)

The need for increased legibility is behind the rethought display, with Chromalight ensuring greater legibility in the darkness. The 3, 6 and 9 numerals, previously created from 18ct white gold, are also now filled in with the luminescent material. With the addition of a 0 before the 5, there is a new harmony in the symmetry of the case.

The new watch nods to an aviation relationship stretching back almost a century, with the spirit of experimentation that characterised the 1930s reflected in the launch of long-distance flights and pilots’ frequent breaking of records, often while wearing a Rolex Oyster on their wrist. Rolex watches were also useful for some pilots who preferred to use them as a reliable onboard timer. It is a history nodded to in the face of the watch, where the ‘Air-King’ name became a permanent feature when it launched in 1958, with the black dial appearing in 2016.

The Oyster Perpetual Air-King joins other new watches, including GMT Master II, Day-Date 40, Datejust 31, Yacht-Master 42 and Yacht-Master 40, as Rolex’s main watch releases this year. 

close-up of Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King watch crown

(Image credit: press)

Rolex watch dial

(Image credit: press)

Rolex watch strap

(Image credit: press)


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.