Rolex - Timepieces for HSNY: Online Charity Auction New York Monday, June 7, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1979
    Reference No: 5500; inside caseback stamped 1002
    Case No: 6’354’909
    Model Name: Air-King
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex folded Oyster bracelet, reference 7835, endlinks stamped 357, max length 180mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 34mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, bracelet, and clasp signed. Dial additionally signed with “Pool Intairdril” logo.
    Accessories: Accompanied by period-correct Rolex presentation box.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex’s Air-King model was first launched in 1945, and named for the airmen of the British Royal Air Force that had defended their country so bravely during WWII. Hans Wilsdorf, wishing to commemorate these veterans, released a range of “Air” models, including the Air-Lion, Air-Tiger, and Air-Giant. The only one of these post-war year models to survive was the Air-King. Offered in many different forms since then, it is one of Rolex’s longest lasting offerings. It was designed to be an affordable gateway into Rolex, with no complications, without sacrificing quality.

    The reference 5500 was introduced in 1957 in a compact, 34-millimeter case, and proved a mainstay of the Rolex mid-century catalogue, as it was in continuous production until 1989 when it was replaced by the reference 14000. The Air-King was briefly discontinued in 2014 but resurfaced in 2016 as the reference 116900 in an upsized 40-millimeter case.

    The dial of the Air-King is far simpler than the Datejust or Date, not only for its lack of a date window but since the movements were not chronometer-certified, they never bore this designation on the dial. The present reference 5500 has a rare and fascinating feature on the dial: the corporate logo of Pool-Intairdril factory applied by Rolex, an international oil company specializing in equipment and excavation supplies in the 1970s and 1980s. These watches were most likely given out as safety awards or to acknowledge the service of their employees, as seen by the engraving on the caseback of this example recognizing the service of a Mr. Kaufman beginning in July of 1978. Pool-Intairdril wasn’t the only company to see its logo on the dials of Air-Kings – American chains such as Winn-Dixie and Domino’s Pizza also gifted Air-Kings to their employees emblazoned with their corporate logos.

    This reference 5500, generously donated by Mr. Eric Ku of 10 Past Ten, is preserved in crisp, original condition. The dial has aged to a beautiful ivory color, and the blue and black Pool-Intairdril logo is perfectly intact and slightly raised. The watch dates to 1979 and is accompanied by a period-correct Rolex presentation box and stainless steel folded Oyster bracelet.

    This watch is being sold to benefit the Horological Society of New York’s ongoing education initiatives, in support of international traveling and virtual education programs, scholarships for students of watchmaking, and awards to watchmaking schools.

  • Artist Biography


    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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Lot offered with No Reserve

Ref. 5500; inside caseback stamped 1002
An interesting and rare stainless steel wristwatch with bracelet, “Pool-Intairdril” logo, and presentation box, sold to benefit the Horological Society of New York’s ongoing education initiatives

Circa 1979
34mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, bracelet, and clasp signed. Dial additionally signed with “Pool Intairdril” logo.

$2,000 - 3,000 

Sold for $6,048

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Timepieces for HSNY: Online Charity Auction

Online Auction 7 - 14 June 2021