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Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King celebrates man's love affair with aviation, technology and timeless design

Audrey Simon
Audrey Simon6/28/2022 11:08 AM GMT+08  • 9 min read
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King celebrates man's love affair with aviation, technology and timeless design
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
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When it comes to shining the light of optimism and innovation on the world of watchmaking, Rolex has it covered with its myriad of aesthetics and technological enhancements. This year is no exception with the new-generation Oyster Perpetual Air-King that celebrates the pioneers of aviation.

Indeed, the Air-King with its recognisable dial inspired by aircraft instruments has incorporated new features in the new collection. For example, the new-generation Air-King timepiece features a completely redesigned case with a crown guard and straight sides like the majority of Professional category models.

Even the proportions of the Oyster bracelet have been changed and are now equipped with an Oysterlock safety clasp and a broadened center link. The watch’s display has also been refreshed and is now aesthetically balanced due to the addition of a “0” before the “5” on the minutes scale. Each five-minute interval is, therefore, now marked by two digits.

Apart from that, the Air-King now has 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 an innovative material, which is exclusive to Rolex.

To fully appreciate the Air-King, we take a look back at its rich past as it represents the privileged relationship between Rolex and flying during the golden age of aviation in the 1930s. This period was remembered for aviation’s spectacular progress in aircraft performance which led to humanity’s capacity to conquer the skies and push boundaries with longer distances that in turn saw several pilots set records while wearing an Oyster.

Others who famously used a Rolex watch as an onboard chronometer are 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.

See also: Jaeger-LeCoultre launches the Polaris Date

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

See also: Cartier debuts horological creations

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.

Like all Rolex watches, the Air-King carries the Superlative Chronometer certification. This is testimony 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 self-winding. The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolized by the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee.

Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II

This is the perfect companion for every intrepid traveller as it was designed as a navigation aid for professionals crisscrossing the globe. The outstanding feature in the new version of the GMT-Master II is the location of the crown and crown guard which are on the left side of the watch case. To accommodate this, watchmakers had to change the precision testing process for some of the final controls carried out as part of the Superlative Chronometer certification. The date aperture and the Cyclops lens have also moved and appear at 9 o’clock.

To note too is the bidirectional rotatable bezel and a 24-hour graduated insert, which have been made available in dual-colour combinations with the lower half symbolising daytime and the upper signalling night-time as well as in single-colour versions.

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With traditional hour, minute and seconds hands, a triangle-tipped 24-hour hand, and a bidirectional rotatable bezel with a 24-hour graduated Cerachrom insert, the GMT-Master II can display the time in two time zones simultaneously: either the local time and the reference time or the local time and that of an alternative time zone.

Made from Oystersteel and fitted with an Oyster bracelet, this watch features a two-colour monobloc Cerachrom bezel insert in green and black ceramic — a colour pairing that has never before been seen on the model. The new version of the GMT-Master II is equipped with calibre 3285, a movement so advanced that led to the filing of several patents. It also offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.

Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31

Rolex calls this timepiece “A classic reimagined” and for good reasons too. Launched in 1945, it was the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch to display the date in a window at 3 o’clock on the dial and consolidated all the major innovations that the brand had contributed to the modern wristwatch until then.

Three new versions are launched this year and each features a striking floral-motif dial with a white Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and white gold) fitted with an azzuro-blue dial and a fluted bezel. The second is crafted from 18 ct yellow gold, it is in olive green, and finally the third is the Everose Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and Everose gold) in silver. On the second and third watches, the bezel is set with 46 brilliant-cut diamonds.

The version in 18 ct yellow gold with the olive-green, floral-motif dial features a President bracelet. Created especially for the launch of the prestigious Oyster Perpetual Day-Date in 1956, the three-piece link President bracelet, made only from 18 ct gold or 950 platinum, is still reserved exclusively for the Day-Date and precious metal versions of the Datejust.

The new Everose Rolesor watch (combining Oystersteel and Everose gold), with a silver, floral-motif dial is equipped with a Jubilee bracelet. Supple and comfortable, the five-piece link Jubilee bracelet was specially created for the Oyster Perpetual Datejust, which was launched in 1945.

The watches are equipped with calibre 2236 that is fitted with a Syloxi hairspring that is produced by Rolex and patented. This silicon hairspring has a patented geometry that ensures the calibre’s regularity in any position. The movement also contains a paramagnetic nickel-phosphorus escape wheel. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed, patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.

Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 42

Embodying the rich heritage that has bound Rolex and the world of sailing since the 1950s, this Professional-category watch is a perfect blend of functionality and nautical style. But that does not mean it is only for those who indulge in sailing as it is equally for other recreational activities too. It is easily recognised by its bidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated bezel made entirely from precious metal or fitted with a Cerachrom insert in high-technology ceramic.

Rolex leads the way when it comes to the development of special ceramics for creating monobloc bezels and bezel inserts. Not only are these materials virtually scratchproof but their colours are also of rare intensity and are resistant to environmental effects. In addition, thanks to its chemical composition, the high-tech ceramic is inert and cannot corrode.

On the new version of the Yacht-Master 42, the bidirectional rotatable bezel is fitted with a 60-minute graduated Cerachrom insert in matt black ceramic. The first 15 minutes are graduated minute-by-minute to allow time intervals to be read with great precision.

Versions the watches come in are 18 ct yellow gold, after having been offered uniquely in 18 ct white gold. The hour markers and hands are filled or coated with a new luminescent material, exclusive to Rolex, that guarantees a longer-lasting intense glow. In daylight, these display elements also have a brighter white hue.

The Yacht-Master 42 is equipped with calibre 3235 that incorporates the patented Chronergy escapement, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. 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.

Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40

This upbeat, colourful collection comes alive with pink sapphire, light-blue sapphire, diamond, purple sapphire and dark-blue sapphire: a harmonious sequence of five hues that is repeated eight times. This design gives the bezel a unique sparkle that is further enhanced by a triangular diamond at 12 o’clock. The lugs and crown are festooned with 46 brilliant-cut diamonds.

The 40 mm Oyster case of the new Yacht-Master 40 is crafted from a solid block of 18 ct white gold. The case back edged with fine fluting is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only Rolex watchmakers to access the movement. The Triplock winding crown, fitted with a triple waterproofness system and protected by an integral crown guard, screws down securely against the case. The crystal, which is fitted with a Cyclops lens at 3 o’clock for easy reading of the date, is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire and benefits from an anti-reflective coating. The waterproof Oyster case provides optimum protection for the watch’s movement.

This new gem-set version of the Yacht-Master 40 is equipped with calibre 3235 and comes with a patented Chronergy escapement, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields. 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 3235 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 3235 extends to approximately 70 hours.

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