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Thread: REVIEW: Rolex Air-King Date (vintage)

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  1. #1
    Grand Master MartynJC (UK)'s Avatar
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    REVIEW: Rolex Air-King Date (vintage)

    Rolex Air-King-Date Precision
    Manufacture: Rolex
    Complications: Date and sweep second hand
    Ref: 5700
    Cal: 1520
    Serial Number: 416xxxx
    Original Purchase Date: 22 March 1978



    History and Impressions
    This particular watch holds personal memory for me. It belonged to my father who passed away in September 1988. My mother, who is also no longer with me, left it to me as a remberance gift. For a very long time it was left, almost neglected, until last year when I decided to get it serviced and refinished. It is one of the smallest watches in my collection measuring 35mm across without the crown. It comes from the fine heritage of the Rolex Oyster.

    According to supplied marketing literature, that comes with the watch, "The "Oyster" . . . invented in 1926, it was the first truly waterproof wristwatch in the world. Yet it was not created for swimmers but simply to provide perfect protection for the precision movement."

    There is much written about the history of Rolex - here is one example that explains the history of the Rolex Oyster: http://www.timeandgems.com/Rolex-Oyster

    Also, hunting the internet I found this about it's history,"Rolex was a favourite watch for long distance aviators prior to WWII and became the the watch of choice for fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain era. This influenced Hans Wilsdorf (founder of Rolex), who chose to honour these flyers with a new line of manual wind Oysters with names such as Air Tiger, Air Lion, Air Giant and Air King. These watches were produced from about 1958 to the early 1960s. Eventually, only the Air King remained, and later gained an automatic movement. The Air-King has the same movement as the non-date Submariner and the Explorer I, but it is not COSC certified." (http://giwiganz.com/Projects/wat6/)

    So this AKD has been in my family since 1978 and passed onto me in 1988. It has full service history and comes with all original booklets and original receipt from purchase - for the grand retail price of 254.00 from a AD that I know still is trading in my home town. I think both these facts are quite amazing in this day and age. Interesting the service and refinish in 2009 cost the same as the purchase price.

    Provenance


    Notwithstanding the price, I believe the Air-King with Date complication are quite rare and of this colour even more so.

    So how does this watch wear in practice? It is a typical Oyster classic shape - all stainless steel case and bracelet - polished on edges and brushed finish, with a 'fliplock' clasp on the 78370 (557) bracelet. As said - one of the smallest - one might say - classically sized - round face - with a beautiful star-burst blue finished face.

    The Bracelet and Clasp
    It can be fitted exactly to size with aid of the spring bar inside the clasp. And if the bracelet does not fit tightly enough, "simply reshape the blade inside the clasp-which fits against the clasp cover-by bending it very slightly to fit the curve of your wrist.". I must admit it is very comfortable to wear and considering I remember my father wore this watch every day for 10 years - and I know it went through a lot - it remains very 'tight' and has been brought back to pristine condition.





    The Dial / Face / Case
    What can I say - understated - classic - timeless, functional. It is very easy to read because of the high contrast between the steel hands, stick batons, and the Rolex 'Crown' at 12 and position of the cyclops over the date at 3 makes for easy reading of the time - even in low light conditions. The tritium has gone (T SWISS T) but the small beads - at each hour - have a lovely patina now. The date is a slow date change that changes between 11pm and 12pm. There is no 'quick change' method of changing the date, but it is a 'hacking' movement for correct setting of the second hand.



    Detail:




    The crown is a screw-down winding crown with patented "Twinlock" mechanism. Very positive feel and I would have no hesitation wearing this watch in any conditions - sea, hot-tub, shower, washing the dishes.



    Technical Details

    Make:
    ROLEX
    Style:
    Oyster Perpetual Air-King-Date
    Shape/Ref#:
    Round / 5700
    Metal:
    Stainless Steel
    Movement:
    26 Jewels
    Caliber 1520
    Incabloc System
    Capped Escape Wheel
    Oyster Perpetual
    Dial:
    Applied Baton Markers
    PlexiGlass Crystal
    Case Dimensions:
    35mm x 42mm lug to lug

    Re-finish
    It was sent in for a service and re-finsh in July 2009 and I am very pleased with the results. Here is what it looked like before being worked on:


    And after the work:


    Further images:







    Final Notes
    This is one of the least valuable watches in my collection in some respects, but in other respects it is the most valuable because of the personal history it has for me. It may not be the biggest or the flashiest or the most complex watch I have - but it will be in my family even after I leave it. I wear it from time to time, like I am at the moment while I type this. And it make me smile. I am sure it will keep ticking for another 30+ years.

    Here is a large picture link - http://designmjc.com/media/picts/wat...K/DSC_0633.jpg stats: 4256x2832 3.65MB 1/25 sec @ f/5 ISO-200 105mm macro
    Last edited by MartynJC (UK); 24th August 2013 at 20:51.
    Ford... you're turning into a penguin. Stop it. HHGTTG

  2. #2
    Apprentice
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    Never realised how lovely the airking date looks!! I think i may have over looked it!! lovely watch and fantastic review.

  3. #3
    Craftsman Spendor's Avatar
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    Nice watch and write-up. Somewhat of a rolex rarity is the AKD.

  4. #4
    Lovely watch,and great review many thanks.

  5. #5
    Grand Master MartynJC (UK)'s Avatar
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    Cool ad from the 60's care of rolexblog.com

    Ford... you're turning into a penguin. Stop it. HHGTTG

  6. #6
    Master
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    Chaps

    The Air King is a beautiful little watch, I am looking for one for the wife as well as myself to wear.

    Mick

  7. #7
    Master
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    Thats a lovely story.Got this one recently,

  8. #8
    Craftsman
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    What a great story. Are you wearing it still?

  9. #9
    Master
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    Smile Absolutely Beautiful

    My dad has the exact same,from the same period.
    Lovely story and review,i have just contacted Duncan from Genesis for a full refurb and yes it's 430 now.
    Can't wait to see it in its glory.

  10. #10
    Journeyman
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    Nice watch. Really love the sunburst blue dial.

  11. #11
    Craftsman
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    Great review and nice back story. I have a vintage 1500 Date and was considering letting it go. Your article has given me pause for thought.

  12. #12
    Craftsman
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    Beautiful watch, fantastic write up, even more amazing back story - thanks for your time and effort to share this.

  13. #13
    Nice review
    I have my original 1986 silver dialled AKD in mint condition in the watch box
    Was my daily wearer for 20 plus years, and with the lightest of refinishing looks new again
    Fabulous little watch, got it from Parkhouse and Wyatt in Southampton and was looking at the new air king there on Saturday!

  14. #14
    The air king date was the first rolex I bought. A beautiful example from 84 iirc and had full box and papers from harrods. Sold it to my old boss in 2001 for 1200. It was too small for me really but a beautiful watch.

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