Revolution: The Evolution of the Role...

New York, Apr 17, 2008

LOT 209

Prototype No Valve Double Red Rolex, Oyster Perpetual Date, "Sea-Dweller Submariner" without helium escape valve, 2000 ft./610 m., Superlative Chronometer, Officially Certified, Ref. 1665. Made in 1967. Fine and very rare, center seconds, self-winding, water-resistant, stainless steel wristwatch with red Sea-Dweller logo, date and a Rolex stainless steel Fliplock Oyster bracelet.

USD 110,000 - 130,000

EUR 75,000 - 87,000

Sold: USD 237,600

C. Three-body, polished and brushed, screwed-down case back and crown, graduated bi-directional revolving black bezel for decompression times, Triplock winding-crown protected by the crown guard. D. Black with luminous round, triangular and bâton indexes, aperture for the date, "Sea-Dweller Submariner" printed in red. Luminous steel skeleton hands. M. Cal. 1570, rhodium-plated, oeil-de-perdrix decoration, 26 jewels, straight line lever escapement, monometallic balance adjusted to temperatures and five positions, shock absorber, self-compensating free-sprung Breguet balance spring, Microstella regulating screws. Dial, case and movement signed. Diam. 40 mm. Thickness 16 mm.

Click to full view

Grading System
Case: 3


Movement: 3-10*



Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-01


HANDS Original


No other watch has captivated the Rolex collector as the Sea Dweller. Born as a tool watch in 1967, it was everything that Rolex knew about dive watches incorporated into one watch. COMEX, a French diving company, already had been successfully using the Helium Escape Valves (HEV) in their 5513 and later 5514 Submariners. So it was fitting that a distinctive Rolex finally went to production in late 1967, as a specialized diving watch, initially based on a thin submariner case and before the HEV patent had been accepted, leading to the very desirable patent-pending Sea Dweller which was able to withstand depths of over 2000 feet or 610 meters. Regular production soon followed and the watch was produced with several different variations for the next forty years as model 1665, 16660 and 16600. A small batch of these Sea Dweller were made especially to the specifications of the company that originally helped with its development and testing, COMEX.
The double red Sea Dweller are considered a key watch amongst collectors and some of the variations of the white Sea Dweller have also become quite sought after. The romance of these watches is unmistakable. Their high dome, large cases, Helium Escape Valve, distinctive engravings, indestructible case and the lure of a limited production "tool" watch has uniquely attracted the attention of watch lovers.
This prototype version was the forerunner of the Sea Dweller 2000. These prototype Rolex Sea-Dwellers were produced in a small batch in 1967. They were produced without a helium escape valve and in a thinner case and without engravings on the back. They were presented to the worlds leading deep sea divers for testing and reporting on the watches' dependability in deep sea dives. It is believed that only 30 Rolex Sea Dweller cases were produced without the gas escape valve. Most of these prototypes did not survive decompressions and the gas escape valve which were already being fitted to early Submariners ref. 5513 and ref. 5514 were required for the Sea-Dweller. The present watch is one of the first Rolex Sea-Dwellers to have been produced by Rolex Geneva and is extremely rare.
This watch is illustrated in "1908-2008, 100 Years of Rolex", by Franca And Guido Mondani, 2008 Edition, page 129.