Editor’s note: Like you, we are also excited for the Watches & Wonders 2022 novelties. Before we get to dive deep into them, here’s our preview & Gut Reaction Review (Grr…) of the new Rolex Air-King 2022. For our detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here. This is NOT a sponsored post.
The New Rolex Air-King 2022 In A Nutshell
Rolex doesn’t do half measures. A master at its craft, the brand knows that the sum of all the parts make for a great product, and ensures that minute details are not overlooked; their watches (and their success) is a testament to that. The new Rolex Air-King 2022 is a supreme example of this; granted those who were expecting a complete overhaul of this would be disappointed, but anyone who wanted an even ‘more perfected’ Air-King will find delight in the myriad details that Rolex has updated the new Rolex Air-King 2022 with.
My first reaction to the new Rolex Air-King 2022 was to double check whether this was a novelty or I had accidentally clicked on the existing models press info. But then, for me, the one big difference jumped straight out, and no, it’s not the addition of crown-guards, but the addition of ‘0’ preceding the numeral ‘5’. I know what you are thinking – that’s it? But you gotta understand that as an architect, symmetry is very important to me when it comes to watch face designs. I had always found the dial of the outgoing Rolex Air-King ref. 116900 to be a bit off-balanced. But this addition of ‘0’ may be small detail, but is not a trivial one. And when it comes to perfecting watches, it’s an important distinction to remember.
The 6 Upgrades Of The New Rolex Air-King 2022
The new Rolex Air-King 2022 ref. 126900 features a 100m water-resistant 40mm diameter 904L steel case. Assuming that despite the case overhaul the overall case dimensions haven’t been altered too much, this new Rolex Air-King 2022 would read — similar to Milgauss or 116900 — with a thickness of just over 13mm, lug-to-lug spacing of 49mm, and interhorn spacing of 20mm. Perhaps the overhaul reduces this lug-to-lug and thickness, and that would also make a big difference in its favour especially for those with slim wrists.
The case has the first major upgrade, with the crown now featuring crown-guards. Do I prefer this? Absolutely. It brings in a sense of continuity with the brand’s other sports watch offerings, clearly demarcating it from the more dressy Oyster Perpetuals and Date-justs. The brand agrees – “The watch features a completely redesigned case with a crown guard and straight sides like the majority of Professional category models”. I reckon they should even convert the Milgauss to this case style, simply because it adds uniformity to the brands steel sports watches.
The second thing to note here is that “the case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only Rolex watchmakers to access the movement”. This, is interesting.
Inside ticks the third major upgrade, with the calibre 3230 — a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex that was released in 2020 — replacing the outgoing 3131. The major difference here is that the power reserve gets increased from 48-hours to 70-hours. The calibre 3230 is a 28.5mm diameter movement comprising 31 rubies, beating at the frequency of 4Hz, featuring a paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, and impressively providing with an accuracy of -2/+2 sec/day (after casing).
The watch comes on a three-piece link Oyster bracelet and the fourth upgrade is its eqiupped with an Oysterlock safety clasp, a first for the model and a feature that prevents accidental opening. This perhaps might come in handy when someone is tries to snatch your watch from a moving car, as many cases have been reported in the recent past. It is comforting to note that the bracelet comes with an Easylink comfort extension link that allows you to easily adjust the bracelet length by ~ 5mm.
The fifth and sixth upgrades come in the form of visual aesthetics: one is the aforementioned addition of ‘0’ before ‘5’, and the other the use of the optimised Chromalight display in low lighting conditions even in the 3,6,9 appliqué markers. The difference here is that before these were made entirely from 18 ct white gold, which reflected light at certain angles. Now, they are lume-infilled.
Retailing for 10’350 AUD, the non-limited edition — but you know, not really available — new Rolex Air-King 2022 ref. 126900 was announced yesterday on 30 March 2022 as part of the Watches & Wonders 2022 March 30 to April 5 (both online and at the Salon). It’s for those who would like an aviation themed timepiece from the Crown, one that’s evolved over 64 years. That’s some serious pedigree right there.
Ever since 1958’s 34mm diameter first Rolex Air-King, the watch has been Rolex’s mission to conquer the skies.
The updates may be minor at first glance, but like any form of life, animate or inanimate, the evolution is major. The new Rolex Air-King 2022 surely flies to new heights.
To find out more about the new Air-King 2022 and their other watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are courtesy are ©Rolex. Make sure to check out our reviews of other Watches & Wonders 2022 novelties here.