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Why Air-King 116900 Is A Confusing Rolex Watch?

January 17th, 2020

In 2014, Rolex decided to stop the production of the Air-King. The reasons were not clear. 

Maybe, the sales showed poor performance. Or the watchmaker had concerns regarding the selling of Oyster Perpetual that was introduced as Rolex’s entry-level sports steel watch. 

Why Air King-116900 is A Confusing Rolex Watch

However, Rolex re-introduced the Air-King two years later, offering a new look and a more appealing proposition. Now:

The Rolex Air-King 116900 is ideally one of the most complicated modern watches in the brand’s catalogue. It is a steel sports Rolex watch. 

Today, let’s explore the reason why the Rolex Air-King Reference 116900 is one of the most confusing Rolex watches. 

The Case

The Rolex Air-King watches typically feature a 34mm case. You can consider it as a smaller version of the Explorer. 

The Air-King with a 34mm case size and a black dial was often confused with the Rolex Explorer from a distance. 

However, if you scrutinize it, you would notice some differences. For example –

While the Explorer had its model name engraved at 6 o’clock position, the Air-King flaunted its model name at 12 o’clock position. Now:

The Rolex has moved the model name in the Air-King reference 116900 at 6 o’clock. Moreover, the case diameter also increased to a wearable 40mm case from 34mm. 

The interesting fact is that the Air-King 40mm case will instantly remind you of the Milgauss 400mm case. Yes, the reference 116900 flaunts a similar watch-case like the Milgauss.

  • This means the case of Rolex Air-King 116900 is also resistant against magnetic fields. 
  • The case is crafted of the patented 904L stainless steel that offers a delightful satin finish. 
  • However, the Air-King is fitted with a satin bracelet; whereas, the Milgauss comes with a PCL Oyster bracelet. 

With a twin-lock crown and case construction, the Rolex Air-King Ref. 116900 is water-resistant up to a depth of 100m. 

Air King 116900 Rolex

The Dial

What confused people more is ideally the dial of the Air-King 116900. 

First, Rolex moved the model name to the dial’s lower part – at 6 o’clock.

Second, the dial now sported many Arabic numerals. 

Thus, the Air-King 116900 dial appeared as the typical Explorer layout, featuring Arabic 9, 6 and 3′ clock markers and ‘5 to 55’ hour markers. 

The dial also features a 60-minute scale. 

  • However, Rolex designed this exclusive dial display based on two cockpit instruments. Rolex built it for a special project in 2006. 
  • The applied numerals and hands are made up of 18ct white gold. 
  • The dial features the patented ‘Chromalight’ luminous material and the green seconds-hand.
  • Moreover, the name ‘Rolex’ is carved in the colour green. 

Air King 116900

The Movement

The Rolex Air-King reference 116900 houses the patented Calibre 3131 chronometer-certified movement. 

  • Interestingly, the Calibre 3131 is also equipped in the Rolex Milgauss. 
  • The movement offers power reserve up to -2/+2 seconds per day. 

However, the Calibre 3131 features a blue Parachrom hairspring that protects the watch from magnetic fields. 

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Final Thoughts

The Rolex Air-King Reference 116900 may not appear as a watch to be enthusiastic about at first. 

It may seem like the manufacturer extracted the case of the Rolex Milgauss, fitted the same Explorer dial and finally, created a new Rolex timepiece. 

But if you carefully inspect, it doesn’t appear to be the case. 

Rolex designed the dial entirely based on the cockpit board instrument. 

However, you might be confused at first with the use of the “Explorer” layout and the 60-minute scale. But the fact is that there are two scales on one dial. 

More significantly, Rolex made the Air-King 116900 an exciting composition, offering different colours for the dial. 

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