Rolex Air King
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
Rolex. If you ask any person on the street to name a watch brand, that's probably the first name that would spring to mind. It holds connotations of success--if you own one, you've arrived.
There's weight in the name: two syllables, hard consonants, easy to remember. When Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf conceived of the name in the 1900s, he had one requirement: that it be easy to pronounce by people around the world, no matter their language. He claimed that it came to him while riding a horse-drawn bus through the streets of London, and never revealed just what it was supposed to mean (if it was ever supposed to mean anything at all).
Some say it sounds like the noise of a watch being wound; others, that it comes from the phrase "hoROLogical EXcellence."
Whatever its origin, the watches that the brand has produced over its more than a century of existence are as easily recognizable as the name is easy to remember. Surprisingly, the brand hasn't introduced that many entirely new models in the past two or so decades. Instead, The Crown concentrates on the tried and true, tweaking or improving existing models.
Because with Rolex, it's not about innovation, it's about refinement.
So when Rolex announced at the 2016 Baselworld Fair that the Air King model--produced from the 1930s and discontinued in 2014--was going to be reissued, it created something of a furor on watch fora and social media. Opinions were polarized, but the one question that seemed to ring out was--why? Still, it got people talking, and it thrust earlier examples of the model back into horological collective consciousness.
Since the 1930s, the Air King was the entry level Rolex--simpler and more modestly-priced compared to the sports or dress models--and was often passed over because of that fact. Built upon the slim but sturdy 34mm Oyster Case foundation, the Air King is one of the more spartan Rolex designs, with simple stick markers, baton hands, and no date. And while recent trends have deemed the Air King a bit on the small side, modern manufactures are beginning to re-focus on slimmer, simpler cases, making this svelte, classy design totally en vogue.
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.
The dial of this particular Air King has gained a fine patina over time, and on an Oyster bracelet, it makes it an ideal candidate for both the new Rolex enthusiast or the confident collector searching for a sleek addition to his/her cache.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Rolex Air King