In 2016, Rolex’s partnership with record-breaking car Bloodhound resulted in one of its oddest watches ever: the Oyster Perpetual Air-King 116900. With its dial that combined Arabic numerals every fifth minute and applied silver numerals at 3-6-9 with dashes of colours, it really had an impact and generated mixed feelings… But, for 2022, Rolex is not about to change its plans and sticks to the original design and updates its pilot’s watch with the introduction of the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King 126900. And there are a few surprises.
Basically, the fundamentals are still there. The new Air-King 126900 still measures 40mm in diameter, still has a stainless steel case and retains the overall same spirit with the quirky dial we’ve come to expect from this model. There are some updates, starting with the movement, but also some changes to the case.
A pilot’s watch with a sporty feeling, the 40mm Oystersteel case has mostly brushed flat surfaces and polished flanks. To match the recent launches of the brand, the proportions of the lugs and case middle have been updated too – a bit more thinness, a bit more slenderness to produce a more contemporary feel. The bezel is still smooth and polished. The caseback retains its fluted profile and screws down, and so does the Twinlock crown ensuring the 100m water-resistance. It is topped by a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating. The most significant evolution is to be seen on the side, as the crown is now protected by an integral crown guard, giving the case a more robust feel.
As a tribute to aviation, the dial is about legibility and contrast. As such, the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King 126900 retains its lacquered black dial with large white printed Arabic numerals for the fifths of minutes and a set of classic Mercedes hands in white gold. The 3-6-9 numerals are white gold, applied on the dial and filled with Chromalight. So is the triangle at 12 o’clock. Finally, the colours that made the watch special have been kept, with a yellow printed coronet and the Rolex lettering and central seconds hand in green.
The Air-King 126900 is worn on a 3-link Oyster bracelet, fully brushed on flat surfaces with polished flanks. It is closed by an Oysterlock folding safety clasp with Easylink comfort extension link (approx. 5 mm).
Inside is the modern Calibre 3230, produced in-house and Superlative chronometer-certified. Equipped with the Chronergy escapement, it beats at 4hz and stores up to 70h of power reserve. Its precision is -2/+2 seconds per day, and the watch has a 5-year warranty.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King 126900 is priced at CHF 7,000. For more details, please visit Rolex.com.