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Old 30 June 2020, 07:00 AM   #1
Steve f
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explorer or air king

hi new to the forum and trying to find out about my watch which is a explorer 5500...or is it?

i wanted to know for sure so i took it to rolex for a estimate, they gave it back to me some months later with a letter saying something along the lines of they couldn't estimate on it as the dial wasn't genuine.

i took it to my local rolex guy who apparently knows his stuff he said "that was complete crap" as there's nobody at rolex anymore that could possibly tell, he also said the dial may have been refinished and that was maybe why they thought it wasn't genuine.

i've on and off done research on this watch over the years i've had it and i don't think theres any way to tell if it came out of rolex originally as a 5500 explorer or 5500 air king am i right?

i'm not really interested in the monetary value of the watch being an explorer or air king but i just want the watch to be right.

if i keep it as it is i'll always know that something isn't quite right, so should i have it redialed with a genuine air king dial and know that thats what it is or try to get a explorer dial but then always have the wonder that it still might not be 100% right.

or just leave it in the cupboard for another couple of years.

any thoughts much appreciated
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Old 30 June 2020, 07:38 AM   #2
Nickn
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In nearly 40 years of collecting I have owned one 5500 explorer with a naffi receipt
You could take it into Rolex and ask
The fake dials that were around 20 + years ago were not very good in my opinion
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Old 30 June 2020, 07:50 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply nick, I did take it into Rolex..
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Old 30 June 2020, 07:56 AM   #4
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So, you were told that it could not be confirmed that it was ever an Explorer because it has a refinished (non-genuine Explorer) dial, which is more common than it should be.

But your local guy says that Rolex is "...complete crap", because why?
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Old 30 June 2020, 08:03 AM   #5
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Surely this thread need photos to take the discussion further ?


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Old 30 June 2020, 08:04 AM   #6
Steve f
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Not sure, he's not the guy I bought it from so has no reason to say that...
He says there's nobody left at Rolex that could confirm if it's refinished or fake.
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Old 30 June 2020, 08:05 AM   #7
Steve f
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I'm trying to post pics
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Old 30 June 2020, 08:12 AM   #8
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You can probably ask Rolex what is wrong with it, and what it would cost to bring it back to original shape

Also, shouldn’t the watch have the reference number engraved between the lugs when you remove the bracelet ?


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Old 30 June 2020, 08:17 AM   #9
Steve f
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I'll try to post pics tomorrow from the mac, and not my phone, reference number or serial number between the lugs? It has a serial number which dates the watch 1970 on some sites and 72 on others, then a reference number of 5500
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Old 30 June 2020, 08:25 AM   #10
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Reference number or serial number?
I took it to Rolex as they're not far from me, they said the couldn't service it because the dial want genuine or it had been refinished, what I want to know is when that watch came out of Rolex what was it.... An air king or a explorer
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Old 30 June 2020, 08:30 AM   #11
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The numbers between the lugs are 5500 and the serial number 3013***
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Old 30 June 2020, 08:31 AM   #12
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Can anybody advise me on posting pics?
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Old 30 June 2020, 08:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve f View Post
Can anybody advise me on posting pics?
You need ten posts before you can post larger (but not massive) pics using the tools on the reply box. The paper clip icon. (if you don't see the paper clip option, click open "Go Advanced" below the reply box



BUT, it'd be better if you could use a site like Imgur, as you can post larger pics. It's free and worth while.
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File Type: png Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 6.46.58 PM.png (19.8 KB, 120 views)
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Old 30 June 2020, 09:50 AM   #14
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Your guy can't tell if its been refinished but can tell if its a fake? Is your guy saying its a 5500? I think if you get to 10 posts and show us pics we can have a constructive conversation.
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Old 30 June 2020, 10:02 AM   #15
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Rolex knows more than your watch guys gives them credit. Remember, they do not authenticate, instead they eliminate - once they find a problem it is pointed out.

Attach the pictures but it’s nearly guaranteed that we won’t be able to see the back of the dial plate nor authenticate anything inside.

But it is possible we might spot a refinished or fake dial if you include sharp close-ups with the hands set to 9:15:10 so all the text is visible and the hands can be fully seen.


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Old 30 June 2020, 10:58 AM   #16
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Experts have previously narrowed down the genuine Explorer 5500 manufacturing dates to approximately 1958 to 1967 with serial numbers no higher than about 1.5 million.

This one has a serial number of 3.3 million and was made sometime around 1970 to 1972.

As a genuine Explorer 5500 is very rare, and redialed Air Kings are relatively common, the chances are high that this one started out life as an Air King and was redialed with an aftermarket dial.

Rolex service people are not stupid, nor are they incapable of looking at production records, so they probably made an assessment that this had an aftermarket dial based on the fact that the watch was made a considerable time after a genuine Explorer 5500 would have left the factory and also that the dial had some features which identified it as not genuine.

Photos will be good, but maybe not too helpful as some of the aftermarket dials are exceptionally good and, if the dial cannot be removed from the movement, only a detailed examination comparing the texture and thickness of the lume with a genuine dial can determine its authenticity.
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Old 30 June 2020, 05:19 PM   #17
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Ok I'm going to try and post pics today
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Old 30 June 2020, 05:36 PM   #18
Steve f
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https://ibb.co/HtPq0gN

https://ibb.co/0BTbF3t

https://ibb.co/tK8WrJG

https://ibb.co/jGPkpD1

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Old 30 June 2020, 08:26 PM   #19
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For comparison, here's a shot of my Air King:



Notice the beautifully fine quality of the printing and compare it to the quality on the dial of your watch.

I'm afraid that there is no doubt whatsoever that the dial, at least, is not authentic. I'm sorry.

There is a possibility that it is an original dial that has been poorly refinished. I own a nice example of a dodgy refinish:



Which I reckon was probably butchered in India. One day, in my dreams, the right dial and second hand will appear...

However, as you can see, the quality of the printing is better than on the dial of yours, which suggests that yours is probably quite vintage Hong Kong or China at a guess.

I'm far from an expert on Rolex, and I'm sure others will be along to help.

However, a nice example of the sort of printing to expect from the Rolex stable, here's a couple of my Tudors, the top is almost certainly a decent quality refinish, the bottom legit:





I hope this makes the issue clear - I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I'm quite sure other, far more competent folk, will be along to confirm the bad news. Sorry.
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Old 30 June 2020, 08:58 PM   #20
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I'm afraid that I believe the images shown on your links do indeed illustrate a watch with a typical, repainted dial.

I have a number of genuine 5500 Explorers.

It is not clear from your image who provided that "certificate of authenticity." Can you clarify?

My records indicate that [genuine!] 5500 Explorers started with case numbers a little below 1,000,000 and ended with case numbers under 3,000,000.

To debunk a Dowling myth, both gilt and white text versions can be correct.

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*Comex:5513,5514,1665x2,16800x2,16600 *Mil subs:5517x2,5513x9,5512 *Submariners:6536/1x2,5508,5513 PCG u/line & double SWISS (America's Cup),5513 gilt Bart Simpson,5513 m-firstx2,5513 gloss WGx2,1680 Red,1680 White Mk1 & Mk2 *Sea-Dwellers:1665 DRSDx3,Great Whitex2 *GMT-Masters:6542x2 (1 Bakelite),1675x4 (1 gilt) & SeaKing 116710LN *Explorers:1016x4,5500x3,14270 Blackout,1655x3 *Misc:Milgauss 1019x3,Cosmo 6263,RNCD DeepSea 116660.
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Old 30 June 2020, 09:01 PM   #21
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Experts have previously narrowed down the genuine Explorer 5500 manufacturing dates to approximately 1958 to 1967 with serial numbers no higher than about 1.5 million.
Would you please cite sources? I disagree, as detailed in my post above.
Thankyou, H
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Old 30 June 2020, 09:11 PM   #22
Steve f
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Thanks, don't be sorry m4tt, I don't care particularly if it's a explorer or an air king I just want the watch to be correct. Obviously I prefer the explorer as that's thecwatch i bought but also there's some lovely air king dials I could have fitted.
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Old 30 June 2020, 09:19 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haywood_Milton View Post

I have a number of genuine 5500 Explorers.

It is not clear from your image who provided that "certificate of authenticity." Can you clarify?

My records indicate that [genuine!] 5500 Explorers started with case numbers a little below 1,000,000 and ended with case numbers under 3,000,000.

To debunk a Dowling myth, both gilt and white text versions can be correct.

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This probably isn't worth the paper it's written on but here goes
https://ibb.co/JxXfT8W
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Old 30 June 2020, 09:20 PM   #24
Steve f
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https://ibb.co/HNfMxxQ
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Old 30 June 2020, 09:24 PM   #25
Steve f
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Thanks for the help guys, at the end of the day I'm not desperate for this to be an original 5500 explorer I'm happy for it to be a redialed air king and if that's the case I shall have a genuine air king dial fitted, but I'd hate to have an air king dial fitted and it turns out it is a explorer
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Old 30 June 2020, 09:28 PM   #26
Steve f
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Just a thought, if I take a watch to Rolex with a repainted dial will they tell me the dial isn't original, I think that's what the watch guy I saw was saying. The letter I got back from Rolex states the serial number and they call it a 5500 explorer
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Old 30 June 2020, 09:31 PM   #27
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This probably isn't worth the paper it's written on but here goes
https://ibb.co/JxXfT8W
Thankyou. For the most part, watch-makers' expertise is in movements and when it comes to cases, bracelets, dials and other parts one sees countless mis-identifications.
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Old 30 June 2020, 09:34 PM   #28
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Just a thought, if I take a watch to Rolex with a repainted dial will they tell me the dial isn't original, I think that's what the watch guy I saw was saying. The letter I got back from Rolex states the serial number and they call it a 5500 explorer
Knowing Rolex UK's use of terminology, including when they refer to an incorrect part / watch, I wouldn't read too much into that.
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Old 30 June 2020, 10:10 PM   #29
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Ok I'm going to try and post pics today


Thanks for the pics. I agree with HM about the dial - refinished.

The cliché used to reprint the dial had too much ink in the upper part of the plate, or the blade was drawn across the surface unevenly. So the edges were crisply printed but the text above the hole was too thickly applied by the pad because it pulled more ink than it should have.

On your question about the certificate and the Rolex term used, “not genuine”, the answer will be murky until the back of the dial plate is inspected again.

For example, if this dial was printed on an aftermarket modern plate then Rolex is right. But if it is the original plate, there will be era correct dial maker marks on the back and a reprint on it would be better described as “not original and improperly restored”.

Glad you’re happy with it as-is, and before you put an Air-Kjng dial on it maybe have it fully serviced by a vintage expert. Then you can safely have the dial plate inspected by him or her and get another opinion.


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Old 1 July 2020, 06:16 AM   #30
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Would you please cite sources? I disagree, as detailed in my post above.
Thankyou, H
Sorry, I don't think I can quote exact sources of this as it was from several years ago. I know the information came from a number of posts on this forum from 2010 to about 2013 when I was looking at these in some detail. The main supplier of what appeared to be good information at that time was a member called "gugnunc" (real name Philip Bowes) who had a thread titled something like "Explorer 5500 Facts and Myths" where he quoted those dates.

Your information is almost certainly better than the 2013 opinions and it might be helpful to other researchers if you could give some idea of approximate manufacturing dates to go along with the serial numbers you quoted above.

This area seems to be a minefield of misinformation, myths and legends so I decided to keep well away as there was little chance I could find an original 5500 Explorer with enough documentation to make me happy that it came from the factory that way.
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