Regular WatchTime reader and watch aficionado Rich Tyson, our special guest blogger, contributes this very different review of one of his own favorite timepieces, the Rolex Air-King Ref. 14010, in which he and a trained watchmaker each examine the watch from their own POV.

The Rolex Air-King is a “time-only” watch that Rolex has offered since 1945. It was named by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, who wanted to honor the British Royal Air Force that was so highly regarded after returning from their missions in the 1930s. Rolex at one point offered an entire line of “Air” models, yet only the Air King remains. At 34 mm in diameter, it is the smallest watch in the Rolex family of men’s watches. While many men today would scoff at a 34-mm wristwatch, the Oyster case adds a beefiness to the piece that makes it appear larger. If you are like me, you enjoy watches with history and ones of typical vintage sizes.
I find myself in an exciting time in my watch collecting life. I was once a quantity-over-quality guy, grabbing anything that was different than what I already had, and often the bigger the better. What changed my entire mindset was inheriting my great grandfather’s Bulova manual-wind wristwatch, possibly to be discussed in a future article. I brought the watch to Dave Kuyt, who I had known since high school and whose family owns and operates a watch-and-clock repair business here in Rochester, NY. After an overhaul and a ton of education about proper ownership of a manual-wind piece, I set off to try it out. What I found shocked me: wearing a 34-mm timepiece that needed daily attention to stay the reliable timekeeping course was a fantastic feeling. Adding to that the realization that my great grandfather had done so with the same piece, as did my grandfather and, for a period of time, my father; the sentimental history of that piece; and finally the feeling of interacting with a watch as a machine — it all changed me entirely. I was hooked.
That brings me to the piece to be discussed today. Like many guys out there, I wanted a Rolex for all of the reasons that most of us want a Rolex. The one I had decided would be my first was a silver-dial Rolex Datejust with the jubilee band. As a real estate agent, I check the date more often than I check the time, so the Datejust seemed a solid choice. We all know what happens to plans, though: they change. I was presented the opportunity to purchase instead this Rolex Air-King, a model I’d never before considered, earlier this year. It turned out to be much closer to the Rolex I really wanted, and even came with box, papers, and original bill of sale.
Aesthetically speaking, I love the watch. Though 34 mm, it wears a bit larger yet still feels comfortable under the sleeve of a dress shirt. It is as much at home on my wrist in a suit, as it is with a polo shirt during summer. Not the same can be said for all watches measuring 36 mm or less, including my Bulova. The thickness of the Oyster case and Jubilee bracelet really give it the wrist presence the watch needs to be as versatile as it is. There is even more to love about the the Oyster case and steel Jubilee bracelet. Having a year-and-a-half-old daughter with me full time, you can imagine what gets thrown at me during a given day, literally and figuratively. Whether washing bottles, changing diapers, feeding or bath time, I know this watch can take it. It is a very comforting feeling not having to take it off or be extra cautious with it during the day. Also, the fact that it is in steel and can be easily polished gives me peace of mind if I happen to I smack it into a door frame while showing houses or subject it to any of the other abuses it faces in a given day.
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