Rolex watches Vintage Air King
Rolex introduced the ‘Air-King’ reference 5500 in 1957. Amongst the earliest versions of the model are some interesting and unusual dial variations which were produced before the design was standardised in the 1960s. Above is a superb early example of the 5500 that is in outstanding condition. The photograph, above right, shows the inside case back with its reference number (which is also engraved between the lugs at 12 o’clock) and also the date stamp for the fourth quarter of 1958 (IV.1958). The date stamp confirms that this is one of the earliest versions of the 5500 to have been made. The watch is typically 1950s in style and very distinct in its appearance when compared to the later Air-Kings. In particular, the silvered dial has a silk matte finish rather than the silvered, satin sheen finish of later dials. The hands have a slightly softened, leaf style design and the centre seconds is still of the blued steel form with roundel to the base that was popular during the 1950s. Interestingly this version has no luminous accents to the numerals or hands, as is generally found on the later dials.
Note the Rolex automatic calibre 1530 movement with its pierced, so-called ‘butterfly’ rotor. The movement has 25 jewels and a compensation balance. The Rolex Oyster case has the signature screw-down winding crown and case back shown above left.