The reference 5500 Rolex Air-King is one of my favourite vintage Rolex Oysters. A classic everyday model that looks just as good paired with a formal suit as it does with jeans and a t-shirt. The model uses a calibre 1520 Rolex automatic movement – a real workhorse that is both accurate and reliable. Dials were made in a variety of colours including a classic silvered finish, champagne, grey and black. We’ve had a few through the shop at Black Bough…below a gallery of some of our favourites.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King, Ref.5500, circa 1980 image © Black Bough
The black glossy dial of the Air-King above has a mesmerising depth to it. This example, made at the end of the 1970s, was fitted with a steel Rolex Jubilee bracelet.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King, Ref.5500, circa 1973 image © Black Bough
The Air-King with charcoal grey dial is another vintage favourite with a lovely satin finish which changes in tone as it catches the light. This example was recently sold at Black Bough and was in wonderful original condition – Black Bough’s watchmaker, who overhauled the watch, opened the watch to find it in untouched condition.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King, Ref.5500, hallmarked 1970, 14ct gold image © Black Bough
Hard to beat the classic combination of silvered, satin finished dial paired with a 14ct gold case as shown on the watch above. This Air-King is hallmarked for the year 1970 and was supplied by Rolex to the UK market. The inside of the case back, alongside the usual Rolex Geneva stamps, signatures and Swiss hallmarks has UK import hallmarks for the year 1970 showing that this watch was supplied to Rolex UK. During this period, it was standard practice to duplicate the serial number of Oyster watches destined for the UK market inside the case back (in addition to the usual positioning of the case number between the lugs). Presumably this was in order to ensure that the main body of the case and its back did not become separated during the import hallmarking process. Of course, today, this is rather a nice detail for collectors. The watch, with further photographs showing the inside case back, movement and other images can be viewed on the Black Bough website by clicking here.