Service & Repair: Rolex Air-King 5500 calibre 1520

IMG_4594Lorenzo sent in this Air-King, as it stopped working.

Let’s see why …IMG_4597

This doesn’t bode well, as the damaged case back gasket will have let in dirt.IMG_4598
There is some dirt visible.


That doesn’t look too good. Huge beat error, and a very feeble amplitude.IMG_4603

You can see that the same plate is used for the movement version with date.IMG_4604

The rotor has lost a bit of its shine, but otherwise, the movement is in good condition.IMG_4606

There are some remnants of polishing paste here and there, and my guess is that the case was polished with just the crown removed, so the polishing compound could enter the movement.IMG_4608

The auto winder mechanism with the typical red reverser wheels.IMG_4610

Time to take the movement apart.IMG_4611

The balance and the pallet fork are removed.IMG_4615

The gear train is now visible.IMG_4619

We’ll put in a new mainspring.IMG_4620

Now the bottom plate comes apart.IMG_4625

The pendant tube has been “polished” as well, so quite a bit is missing, so I will replace that as well.IMG_4673

All the movement parts are clean.IMG_4674

The new Rolex mainspring.IMG_4675

I start off by putting the balance jewels back in.IMG_4677

The base movement is back together.IMG_4678

Now I can adjust the movement, and this looks a lot better than before.IMG_4679

Now I put together the bottom plate …IMG_4680

… and the auto winder mechanism.IMG_4681

The dial and hands are in great condition.IMG_4682

I case the base movement…IMG_4683

… and then put on the auto winder.IMG_4684

A nice looking Air-King.IMG_4685

25 thoughts on “Service & Repair: Rolex Air-King 5500 calibre 1520

  1. Christian. My Air King is exactly the same as this one with same numbers.
    I am thinking of selling and when I checked online chrono24 and i saw my watch dated 1987 but my family say this is about 1968/70.
    can you shed some light on this how I can date my watch before I decide. I was also quoted £200 for service in Newcastle where I live any help woukld be appreciated.#

    • Chrono 24 doesn’t date watches – they have a similar one for sale that they say is from 1987.

      Google how to date Rolex watches. You need the case reference and case serial number, which are between the lugs.

      Kind regards,


  2. Could you please tell me what size screw I need where the bracelet connects to the deployment clasp? Its 2010+- Rolex Air-King

  3. Hi Christian,

    re: Rolex cal. 1520 regulation

    Much appreciated with your post on this watch.
    Do you use a special tool to spin the weights on the balance?
    Could this be done with the balance in-situ or would you suggest removing
    the balance and balance cock from the watch while doing the adjustment?
    Thanks in advance.

  4. Is there a trick to get the stem out of these air kings? I haven’t noticed a locking system or a screw that is holding the stem in.

    • I too would love some help with this. I am needing to remove the crown/stem from my 1520 movement in order to replace the dial. I have the skill and tools required to do job however it seems removing the stem on this particular movement is tricky. Any help appreciated.

  5. I have Airking, production date around 1958 with Mechine # 88585 which requires extensive repair and parts replacement. Case/Glass/Ring around glass/Dial with arms need to be replaced with some wheels (If required). Pls advice capability & Parts avilibility.

  6. Nice job! It’s a beautiful watch. One thing I’ve noticed about the Rolexes you’ve serviced is that the dials and hands are usually in very nice condition. So, too, the Eterna and Junghans watches. Any thoughts on the reason?

    • I think there are various factors at work … One is of course the quality of the dial. The materials used, the paint, the varnish, the printing… Another huge factor is the Oyster case. Not only does it keep dust and humidity out, but also most humans, as few people have a Rolex case opener 😉
      Also, the exposure to UV (e.g. lots of sunlight) isn’t great, but Rolex dials tend to cope better than others with this.
      The value of a watch also keeps people from opening it, and letting in dirt and humidity.
      Omega dials oddly enough don’t age very well, especially the ones from the 60s and 70s. Omega had a lot less emphasis on tight cases at the time, and I guess the materials used weren’t that great, either. Someone can probably write a PhD thesis on the subject!

  7. That’s a beaut, I was hugely tempted to buy an early 70s one last weekend, I think it’s the script that the ‘Air-King’ is written in – it’s just really elegant. Lovely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.