A stainless steel wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, 'explorer' dial, bracelet, original guarantee and fitted presentation box

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1972
    Reference No: 5500
    Case No: 3'202'995
    Model Name: 'Air-King' Explorer
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, 165 mm. maximum length, end link stamped 357
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex folding deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 34 mm. diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: With Rolex Garantie with illegible date, original bill of sale dated 21 December 1974, product literature, wallet, fitted presentation box and outer packaging.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Explorer watches were produced to withstand the perils of alpine expeditions and the elements. The present model is a crossover between the 'Air King' and 'Explorer' models, evidenced by the infamous '3-6-9' numerals. Reference 5500 was fitted with either a 'Precision' or 'Super Precison' dial, unlike reference 1016 and 6610, which featured a 'Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified' dial. There has been debate as to whether the 'Air King Explorer' was ever produced.

    The present watch features a wonderful matte dial that features luminous which has aged to a wonderful orange tone. The case still displays original proportions, and the bracelet with very little stretching. The watch is furthermore accompanied by its original bill of sale from Belfast, supporting the hypothesis that these watches were made for the UK market.

  • Maker Bio

    Rolex

    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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1050

Rolex

Ref. 5500
A stainless steel wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, 'explorer' dial, bracelet, original guarantee and fitted presentation box

勞力士,不銹鋼自動上弦鏈帶腕錶,配中心秒針及“Explorer”錶盤,“'Air-King' Explorer”,型號5500,附證書及盒子,約1972年製

Circa 1972
34 mm. diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

Estimate
HK$35,000 - 45,000 
€4,100-5,300
$4,300-5,600

sold for HK$40,000

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: THREE

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2016