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Why We Love It
When it comes to "budget" Rolex, there are few watches more pleasing than the Air King. The proportions are perfect, the movement is robust and the styling is timeless. It’s not hard to make the claim that the Air King is the most versatile model out there, as all it takes is a strap change to make this watch go from tuxedo accoutrement to BBQ grill timer.
But because of the Air King's wide appeal, so many of them got worn, and worn hard; The Air King was the everyman's every-day wearer.
That's what makes this one so damn special. With a crisp case and immaculate black dial, this Air King doesn't show the telltale signs of rough wear, making it a rare find and a great option for even the seasoned collector. It has sure got us thinking...
Launched in 1945, the Air King was one in a series of watches released to honor the RAF pilots who defended the island against the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. After the war, spirits were riding high in “their finest hour,” and the fighter pilots were the heroes to whom everyone in England looked for inspiration. As an ardent lover of his adopted land, swept up in patriotic fervor, Wilsdorf’s company released models with names like Air-Lion, Air-Tiger, and Air-Giant.
Wilsdorf meant the Air-King to be worn by pilots, and many companies like Pan Am did indeed choose the Air King as a presentation watch for retiring pilots.
The Air-King went through many different variations throughout the model’s long run. The example that we offer here is a Reference 5500, which was first launched in 1957 and ran for 37 years. Compared to the earlier Air-Kings, which used Hunter movements, the Reference 5500 was the first to be equipped with the Calibre 1520 movement.
The Air King Reference 5500 (produced from 1957 to 1994) is a tremendously desirable timepiece by any standard, combining a self-winding Calibre 1520 in-house movement with Rolex's signature Oyster Case. Many dial colors were used during that period, from silver to the black (featured here), which is perhaps the most visually-arresting of them all.
Stainless Steel Oyster Case is approximately 34mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 5500. Rolex Caliber 1520 Automatic Movement. Circa 1977.
Overall Condition: The watch is in excellent condition throughout, with no obvious flaws or marks; case shows signs of light wear. Matte black Rolex dial is in excellent condition with crisp printing and a lovely even patina to the luminous material. Rolex pencil hands are in excellent condition with matching patina. Rolex Crown; Rolex screw case back.
Includes one 19mm rivet Oyster C&I Bracelet from 1977.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options