A fine and extremely rare stainless steel automatic diver's wristwatch with center seconds, date, rail dial and bracelet

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1978
    Reference No: 1665
    Case No: 5'737'049
    Model Name: Sea-Dweller "Rail Dial"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1570,
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped "585" and "93150" to the endlinks, maximum length 185mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex extendable deployant clasp stamped "H" and "93150"
    Dimensions: 40mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    The interest toward the Rolex Sea-Dweller has skyrocketed in the past few years. In fact, the model features a remarkable origin story, a very distinct evolution, and extremely appealing aesthetics; its high collectability comes as no surprise. What is interesting, however, is that the market has focused on some versions of reference 1655 - such as the Double Red - but there is still the chance for the savvy collector to acquire extremely rare variations which have not yet been caught up in the market frenzy. The elusive Rail Dial White Sea-Dweller (or “RDWSD”) is one such example.

    The RDWSD is an extremely rare variation of the iconic Great White dial. In production for two years only between ’77 and ’79, this dial variation was manufactured by the Stern company, instead of the normally employed Singer. While the Stern family is today known as the owner of Patek Philippe, they were originally dial makers, and among the most appreciated ones in Geneva. Nowadays the Stern dial factory has been incorporated into Patek Philippe and produces dials exclusively for that company.

    Some subtle differences are found on a Rail Dial compared the the standard Great White. Most notably, the last “E” of “superlative” and the “Y” of “officially” are perfectly aligned, as are the “C” of “chronometer” and “certified”. This creates a very pleasing and unusual vertical “corridor” (or rail) of space between the last two lines of the designation, and it is what gives the dial its nickname. Rail dials are known also on other Rolex timepieces, most notably on the 1990s Explorer II ref. 16570. Another detail unique to the Rail Dial is the Swiss designation reading “T Swiss T < 25”: no other Sea-Dweller dial, including the Comex 1665 (whose dial was made by Stern as well) presents this designation.

    The correct serial number for a RDWSD is included between 5.7 million and 6.2 million. The present example featuring case number 5’737’049 is thus one of the earliest examples of RDWSD, and furthermore offered in excellent condition.

  • Maker Bio

    Rolex

    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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FROM A PROMINENT ASIAN COLLECTOR

Rolex

Ref. 1665
A fine and extremely rare stainless steel automatic diver's wristwatch with center seconds, date, rail dial and bracelet

勞力士,「Sea-Dweller」型號1665,精鋼自動上弦鏈帶腕錶,配日期顯示和罕有「Rail Dial」錶盤,約1978年製

Circa 1978
40mm diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

Estimate
HK$120,000 - 160,000 
€13,200-17,600
$15,400-20,500

sold for HK$212,500

Contact Specialist
Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2030
thomasperazzi@phillips.com

Ziyong Ho
Specialist
+852 9386 2032
ziyongho@phillips.com

Jill Chen
Specialist
+852 2318 2033
jillchen@phillips.com

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX

Hong Kong Auction 29 May 2018