What is the difference between Rolex Air King Vs Explorer?

Rolex Air King Vs Explorer
ref.116900 Rolex Air King Vs Explorer ref. 214270

Rubber B was the first company worldwide to develop custom rubber watch straps exclusively for Rolex timepieces, and since then, the company has added several other prominent watchmakers to its product portfolio. Rubber B also creates custom rubber watch bands for watches produced by Panerai, Rolex, and Audemars Piguet.

The newest version of the Rolex Explorer (ref. 214270) and the Rolex Air King (ref.116900) were introduced at the Baselworld Watch Show in 2016. Most horology enthusiasts agreed that both watches look strikingly similar (at least at first glance). Both watches were originally viewed as entry-level wristwatches, however recent upgrades give them multiple uses for a variety of occasions. If you’re curious as to which of the two watches would better fit your luxury needs, we will do an in-depth comparison in this article. 

What is the difference between Rolex Air King Vs Explorer?

The 116900 Rolex air king vs explorer 214270 – Recent Upgrades

The new version of the Rolex Explorer ref.214270 has some minor upgrades as compared to the Rolex Air King ref. 116900. The Rolex Explorer features some much-needed improvements such as the dial upgrade. The new Rolex Explorer 214270 now houses Rolex’s “Chromalight Display” that gives off light/lume for up to 8 hours, and the hands are also in better proportions as opposed to the older version with shorter hands. 

The new model of the Rolex Air King ref. 116900 also got some of its own upgrades that are more drastic. This Rolex Air King looks strikingly different from the older and discontinued version; it now comes with a much longer case along with a revamped dial. 

Despite the differences in history behind both watches, the minor updates of the Rolex Explorer, and the more noticeable updates to the Rolex Air King, they turned out to look very much alike and they are easily comparable to one another.  

What is the difference between Rolex Air King Vs Explorer?


Although these watches are very similar, the Rolex Explorer goes for $100 more in price at $6,550, the Rolex Air King is $6,450 at some retailers. Price-wise, you can expect the Rolex Air-King to be slightly more affordable than the Rolex Explorer.


The Rolex Explorer houses a movement of 3132 caliber and the Rolex Air King (ref.11690) has a 3131 movement, it can be speculated that the difference in movements is due to the difference in the size of each watch. The Rolex Explorer caliber 3132 features Rolex’s Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers, so it is more resistant to extreme weather and shocks. 

The Rolex Air King caliber 3131 movement doesn’t have the same features as the movement in the Rolex Explorer but it does include anti-magnetic properties. The only other Rolex that can withstand magnetic fields is the Rolex Milgauss, making the Rolex Air King more unique. 


The Rolex Explorer has a 39mm case and the Air King has a 40mm case, both watches hold the same power reserve of up to 48 hours. The largest (no pun intended) difference between the two watches is without a doubt the case thickness and also the crown on each watch. 

The Rolex Air King is much thicker and clunkier in appearance than the Rolex Explorer. The crown on the Air King is larger than the one on the Rolex Explorer as well. The Rolex Air King is 2mm thicker than the Rolex Explorer. 


The Rolex Air King and Rolex Explorer both have numerals on the dial at the three, six, and nine o’clock positions on the watch and are white gold. The Rolex Explorer has lume on the index markers on the dial, with the newest version of the Rolex Explorer having lume on the numerals as well. The Rolex Air King has no lume on the numerals, with lume only being on the twelve o’clock hour mark and the hands. It could be speculated that this is the reason for the $100 price difference between the watches. The Rolex Air King features more coloration than the Rolex Explorer with the green and gold logo that stands out. The dials on both the Rolex Explorer and the Rolex Air King are matte black which improves readability by having little to no glare. 


The Rolex Explorer has a more professional clasp with the guard on top. The Rolex Explorer clasp is a Folding Oysterlock safety clasp. The Rolex Air King clasp is a sportier Rolex Oyster clasp which is the classic style with a latch. Both have an Easy-Link system and can be adjusted without a tool. The Rolex Explorer’s clasp has an extra folding mechanism which makes it more secure. 

Both the Rolex Explorer and the Rolex Air King are made of stainless steel and have a water resistance of up to 100 meters. Both watches come on an Oyster Bracelet at 20mm.


When choosing between the new Rolex Explorer or the Rolex Air King, it is really up to personal preference. The Rolex Air King is heftier in design which would be a better choice if you’re looking for a sportier watch and features anti-magnetic properties. The new version of the Rolex Explorer would be a better option if you’re looking for a simpler design, or if you are planning on taking your wristwatch into harsh weather conditions.  

Rolex Air King Vs Explorer watch straps by Rubber B

Rolex Explorer I 39mm closure preference here

Rubber Strap for Rolex Air-King 40mm – Classic Series

Are You in Need of a Custom Rubber Watch Band For Your Luxury Watch? Visit Rubber B Today

All of Rubber B’s watch straps are made from 100% vulcanized rubber and are crafted exclusively by experts in Switzerland. Orders are shipped out within 24 to 48 hours of receiving them, and Rubber B also offers shipping options to its international clientele as well.

If you would like to learn more about our complete list of products, shipping policies, pricing, or have questions about our custom rubber watch straps, please visit the Rubber B website today for more information. One of our valued team members will be happy to answer your inquiry in a timely manner.

116900 Rolex Air King Vs Explorer 214270

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