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GQ says a Rolex Air King is the only watch a man needs to own


Watch columnist in Gentleman’s Quarterly United Kingdom (GQ UK) sites in two columns that the venerable Rolex Air King is the only watch a man needs to own.  Ken Kessler, GQ UK’s watch columnist sites that the Air King is strong, water-resistant, and understated, which is a very European quality. Kessler speaks from experience with over 35 years discussing and collecting timepieces, and is the editor at large for the UK version of Revolution Magazine and has pieces published in the Wall Street Journal, The Telegraph, QP (British watch magazine) and the Financial Times.

There is a lot to like about the Rolex Air King.  The Air King evolved from the Oyster Perpetuals of the 1950’s. A slightly smaller watch at 34MM versus the standard 36mm, the Air King size keeps the watch understated yet elegant. The beauty of the Air King is its simplicity. The Air King has no date and subsequently, a flat crystal sapphire crystal with the older models possessing an acrylic crystal.  New sapphire crystals are less scratch resistant, but the older acrylic crystals are easier to polish out scratches with simple whitening toothpaste or PolyWatch acrylic crystal polish.  There are varying styles of watch faces ranging from simple stick dials and hands, to the Rolex Explorer I style of 3-6-9 on hour markers, to Roman numerals at each hour marker. The newer Air Kings have plenty of Chromalight luminescence placed on the hour markers and slightly larger hands for easier reading at night.

Adding to the simple elegance is the monobloc Oyster Case that seamlessly blends into an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet.  Vintage Air kings are available in all gold, two-tone stainless and yellow gold, and all stainless cases.  Newer Air Kings are only available in Rolex’s blend of 904L stainless steel.  In addition to the Rolex standard Oyster case complete with screw-in caseback found on the rest of the Rolex line is the patented Oyster Twin-loc submarine hatch type of winding crown keeping the watch water resistant to 100 meters. All Air Kings have a domed bezel keeping to its simple elegance design keeping to durable and rugged, yet does not look out of place with a blazer or dinner jacket.

Older vintage Air Kings possess Rolex, fine 27 jewel automatic movement, but the new Air Kings movements are COSC Officially Certified Chronometers with a daily range of -4 to +6 seconds a day.

Kessler conveyed a good story in his article of a 27 year old looking to buy his first serious watch, and was squirming over the price of an Air King. The salesman assisting the twenty-something said this, “You are 27. You will probably live to 80. Thus, you will have this watch for 53 years. You will leave it to your child. All it will cost you over your lifetime is the equivalent of £1.20 a week.”  Not a bad way to justify a Rolex, and the Air King is a good way to start. Needless to say, Beckertime has plenty of used Rolex Air King watches in stock.

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