OK, I know that writing this article is basically stepping into a mine field. Everybody has their favorites and different folks have different ideas of what collecting is. And on top of that, those of us who count ourselves among the great unwashed don’t have unlimited funds to go after those grail pieces that are beginning to kiss the seven figure mark at auction.
However, I’ve never let that stop me before, so here goes.
First, let me say that, in general I think earlier is better. On the other hand, I like my watches recognizable for what they are. So sometimes I pick the reference that’s a few minor generations into the bloodline.
We covered the 5512 pretty thoroughly a couple of weeks ago. Suffice it to say, if it was good enough for Steve McQueen, it’s good enough for me.
You may think this is an odd choice. After all, non-quick-set equals pain in the butt if you’re not wearing the watch every day. But there’s something about the configurations of this particular reference that get to me. I like the yellow gold version with a silver dial and yellow gold baton markers. I personally would keep the President bracelet in the drawer and mount the thing on an antique leather strap.
Effectively, the watch Tenzing Norgay wore to the top of the world in 1953. Hodinkee’s Ben Clymer says the 6610 is The One, but I’m happy with the 1016.
Explorer II 1655
We also covered the watch known as the Steve McQueen recently. I love this watch just because it looks cool. Unique hands (for a Rolex) and a black dial make it just different enough that it belongs in the Rolex Collector Club.
Air King 5500
Rolex originally released the Air-King in 1945. The updated ref. 5500 saw daylight in 1957. At this stage, the 34mm diameter watch carried a non-COSC certified movement (the Air-King did not achieve chronometer status until 2007).
In fact, several movements were used during the 37 year run of the 5500. Movement type was denoted by the absence or use of the words ‘Precision’ and ‘Super Precision’ on the dial. The ‘double-red’ – with the words Air-King and Super Precision both in red – is extremely rare.
Rolex introduced the ref. 1675 GMT-Master in 1959 and ran it until 1980. Lots of ‘em out there, and of course, the blue and red Pepsi bezel is the classic version. But there are other sodas, and other 1675s. Coke (red and black bezel) and root beer (brown and gold), to be exact. Pick your poison.
So there you have it. My six-pack of Rollies that should be in every Rolex collection. I’ve left a little room for personal taste, so you can call the collection your own.