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The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air King, The Original Aviator

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King has a long aviation pedigree and is one of the longest-running product lines in Rolex history. The first Air-King appeared in 1945 and arrived as a conscious effort to merge predecessors featuring names like Air Lion, Air Tiger, and Air Giant. These monikers had been in use on various Bubbleback Rolex Oyster Perpetuals since the early 1930s.

They became popular among WWII pilots of the British Royal Air Force since they proved more reliable, accurate and readable than the RAF-issued timepieces.

Rolex reused references across model lines. Because of this, it is correct for a ref. 5500 to appear in both product lines with either Air-King or Explorer dials.

These dual-reference models are challenging to validate with the conversion from one to the other being a matter of a simple dial swap. For example, a prized 3-6-9 Explorer dial fitted to a less desirable Air King 5443, can net an unscrupulous dealer a tidy profit.

There’s a lot to learn and love a…
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The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss, A Scientists Chronometer

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss is a rather obscure model that remains somewhat below the radar. In recent years, it has gained more traction with collectors and prices for vintage references in any condition are rising.

The earliest examples are easily mistaken for an Oyster Perpetual. Contemporary examples are less prone to this thanks to some unique design cues.

In 1956, Rolex introduced the Oyster Perpetual Milgauss, ref. 6451, intended for scientists and engineers working in power plants, medical facilities, and research labs.

The name comes from the Latin mille, meaning one-thousand, and gauss, the unit of measure for magnetism.

The watch was developed and tested in the 1950s by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the world’s preeminent particle physics laboratory. The design was a technological breakthrough solving a real problem for timekeeping in these electrically and magnetically polluted environments.

Reference 6541 was very similar in appearance to …

Vintage Rolex Transitional Models, A Collectors Favorite Anomaly

Swiss watchmakers, in general, have a frugal and cost-conscious culture. Parts and components were often designed to be shared and reused across model lines and references.The introduction of a new reference often involves using up surplus inventory and many watch manufacturers engage in this practice.

These curious watches with their anomalous configurations are known as Transitionals. Transitionals are those models that include features and parts of previous or future references. Collectors are divided over whether they are more or less desirable or collectible.

While they are made in relatively small volumes and are often rare, they don’t command any price premium over non- transitional models.


It is common to see a caseback with a reference number crossed out, and a new later one applied. This correction is of no concern if the serial number dates the watch to a known transitional time frame. 

You can also expect to see old dials and movements paired with newer cases (e.g. Submariner …

The 9 Rolex COMEX Dive Watches

Rolex dive watches are among the top three most desirable among collectors.The Prized ThreeOmega Seamaster 300Blancpain Fifty-FathomsRolex Submariner & Sea-DwellerOf all the Rolex dive models, those featuring COMEX on the dial are the most prized and exclusive. Milsubs being an exception of their own.

The name of this French marine engineering company is well known in the vintage watch community and has only appeared on the following specific Rolex models. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner, reference 5513 and 5514Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date, reference 1680, 16800, and 168000Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller, reference 1665, 16610, 16600, and 16660 These exclusive watches were never sold at retail. If you were not a professional saturation diver working for this French company, there was no way to acquire one. They were reserved for an elite band of highly trained divers, working in one of the most dangerous and lonely professions in the world.
These watches were produced b…

Why You Need A Spring Bar Tool & How To Use It

Why The Vintage Rolex Collector Needs This Tool You'd be surprised how worked-up people get over this. Or how unnecessarily complicated they can make it.

If you want a vintage Rolex you need to examine what lies hidden beneath the lugs. Period. 

While much has been written about what to do with the numbers you find, this post will just focus on exposing them.

To do this you need to remove the bracelet or strap. This is not difficult or technical or scary or dangerous. Nobody will get hurt and no permanent damage or harm will result. To those that say you need to go to a jeweler, a watchmaker or an AD (!?) to do this, I say Pffft.

Just take your time and perhaps a precaution if this is your first time - It's a good idea to apply some masking tape to the case lugs, as a shield against any accidental slips and scratches. 



Removing a bracelet or strap requires manipulation of the spring bars - the little springy pins that span the lugs and hold the bracelet (and end links) in place. Man…

The 5 Truths For Hunters Of Military Submariners

Quest For The Rolex MilSubRolex Oyster Submariner watches with genuine military provenance are highly collectible and command top tier prices. MilSubs as they're known, are not watches purchased by soldiers. Even with verified active service records, these don't qualify as MilSubs. If you're interested in genuine Military Submariners, you need these Five Essential Facts (and of course, The VRFG!).
1. State PropertyRolex watches purchased by the military are state property and bare official property marks on the casebacks. They are issued to military personnel along with other specialized tools such as diving equipment. Failure to return equipment to the quartermaster could have severe disciplinary consequences.


2. Path to Private CollectionsThere are only two ways a military issued Rolex Submariner can find its way into private ownership - an official government auction of surplus equipment, or theft. If you own one with a serial number that was not officially auctioned, you…

How To Assess And Appraise A Vintage Rolex Watch

If you want a vintage Rolex, you will need to learn how to assess one. This skill will minimize the risk of getting screwed or scammed. If you’re comfortable throwing caution to the wind and willing to spend thousands on a punt, you don’t need to read any further. Just buy a watch you like and enjoy it! But if you want to buy well and spend your money carefully you should get yourself a copy of The Vintage Rolex Field Guide.

If you don’t have the time or patience to consult a book, then this post is your TL;DR. Assessing a vintage watch is a skill that improves with practice but if you’re starting out, here is the very minimum you need to know.
85% of the value is in the dialYou need to examine the dial carefully and up close. If the crystal is scratched, blurred or otherwise inhibits your ability to see the dial, then move on and evaluate the other areas. But know this - without a good look at the dial, you’re making a purchase decision on only 15% of the watch value.

In ideal circumstan…

Are Vintage Rolex Watches Waterproof?

There is an important distinction between water-resistant and waterproof, and this is especially relevant to vintage Rolex watches. The US FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has argued that it’s not possible to 100% shield a watch from water in all conditions. Hence the term waterproof has been widely dropped since the 1960s, and replaced with the term water-resistant to a specified depth.

In 1990 the International Organization for Standardization introduced a standard for water-resistant watches which also prohibits the term waterproof. This standard was intended for watches worn for ordinary daily use, including exercises such as swimming. The second set of standards were introduced in 1996 specifically for Dive Watches. Rolex originally designed the Oyster case in 1926 to be waterproof to 50 meters. Subsequent revisions to the Oyster case and screw-down crown have extended this waterproof rating well beyond 100m in the Sea-Dweller.

The vintage Oyster case is recognizable by the screw-d…

Do Vintage Rolex Tick Or Sweep?

Yes! Vintage Rolex do tick. It is a common misconception that a Rolex with a ticking second hand is an obvious sign of a fake.If you inspect one closely under magnification with a jewelers loupe, the second's hand DOES tick many times per second. Unlike some other high-end lux watches, it is not a perfectly smooth motion. This is especially noticeable in vintage Rolex watches with their older movements.

The number of ticks per second is a function of the movements “beat rate”, usually measured in Hertz (Hz) or vibrations per hour (VpH). Hertz refers to the number of oscillations that the balance wheel in a watch’s movement makes in a single second.

A frequency of four Hz makes four full oscillations per second, or eight vibrations, which adds up to 28,800 vibrations per hour.

Vintage Rolex movements typically beat at 18VpH. More contemporary Modern Classic Rolex movements beat at 21 and 28 VpH. By comparison, quartz movements are orders of magnitude more precise with quartz crystal v…

A Rolex Guy & An Omega Watchmaker Talk Vintage

This post should really be titled, "How To Find  A Watchmaker to Work On My Vintage Watch", as I get asked this question quite often.  So you bought your first vintage Rolex! Congratulations. Now you want it professionally serviced, cleaned, restored or just checked over. How do you find someone to send your new beloved watch to?
For most people, the search begins on one of the top forums or on Reddit r/RolexWatches. You can expect all manner of unsolicited feedback and advice before getting recommendations for suitable watchmakers. This well-intentioned feedback can be unwelcome but it will force you to think carefully about what services you're actually shopping for... Do you want a movement overhaul or just inspection and calibration?
Pressure testing? What if it fails and you need gaskets, a crystal and a new crown?
Want to stabilize flaking lume material on the hands or dial? 
What about dealing with that nasty scratch, dent or ding on the case?
Sloppy, stretched bracelet?…

Best Vintage Rolex Forums in 2019

With vintage Rolex watch prices outpacing new ones, collectors and buyers are always looking for a reliable place to interact with other experienced enthusiasts and experts. Multiple, long-established forums have served as channels to connect, network and trade Vintage Rolex Watches.
Criterion For A Great ForumThese forums are global and include collectors from markets and territories all around the world. They’re a passionate community of collectors, dealers, watchmakers and general fans who share a common interest in Vintage Rolex Watches. Their opinions, preferences, and experience vary as widely as their age range and financial means.

A good forum is one with high daily traffic volume, high levels of individual user engagement and polite and thoughtful posts. Forums should also allow members to buy or sell Vintage Rolex Watches and offer a means to provide feedback and references for both sellers AND buyers. Forums should be closely but sensitively moderated.

Here is a review of our …

How To Recognize Corrosion in Vintage Rolex Watches

The stainless steel used in vintage Rolex watches is an alloy recipe made from Iron Ore, Chromium, Nickel, Molybdenum and a few other trace elements. Its these trace elements that give the iron ore its stainless, corrosion-resisting properties.

Metallurgists call this alloy 300 Series Austentic Stainless Steel. 316 is considered standard marine grade stainless steel, but despite the name is not resistant to warm seawater corrosion (specifically, Chloride, Fluoride, Iodide and Bromide).

304L and 316L (316L being the low carbon version of 316) is derived from this 300 Series and is used in many pre-1987 Rolex Oyster cases. Later Oyster cases use 904L steel with subtly different properties.

The common misconception is that 904L was adopted for its “hardness” and better scratch resistance. The fact is, 316L has a higher Rockwell Hardness Rating (HR B 95) than 904L (HR B 70–90) and 316L is harder, more scratch resistant and tougher to mill than 904L. It’s said to hold a better polish too. 904…