Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE Geneva Friday, May 12, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1967
    Reference No: 1665
    Movement No: D049393
    Case No: 2'117'464
    Model Name: "Patent Pending" Sea-Dweller "Double Red"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1570, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster, stamped 9315,
    end links stamped 285, 200mm max. length

    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel twin lock folding clasp, stamped 3.70
    Dimensions: 39.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed, outer case back signed "Rolex Patent Pending Oyster Gas Escape Valve"
    Accessories: Accompanied by Storekeeper's Delivery Note No. 68719 (The Borneo Company Singapore SDN BHD) for loan of one Sea Dweller 1665, case number 2117464, various Rolex correspondence, dive reports and typed test results of the watch from the original owner.

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1967 Rolex launched the Sea-Dweller dive watch, which established a new standard in performance and technology with its incredible depth rating of 2000 feet, or 610 meters, and the first ever integration of a helium escape valve (HEV). This advanced design allowed divers to dive deeper, and keep track of dive times without fear the watch may fail. Rolex developed the HEV in order to allow tiny helium atoms, which built up within the case during dives, to be released, thus reducing the risk of potential failure. When first released, Rolex was still working towards the patent for this new technology, and therefore early Sea- Dwellers were engraved with the wording “Patent Pending Rolex Oyster Gas Escape Valve” on the case back.

    This present Patent Pending reference 1665 is one of the finest to appear on the market in recent memory, featuring all of the attributes of the earliest models that are so sought after by collectors. Dating from 1967, the dial is a Mark 1 (Mk1) type with the double red printed Sea-Dweller on the first line, and Submariner 2000 on the second. The signature consisted of the red print placed on top of white, that over time, faded to a light pink tone. The Mark 1 dial is characterized by equal-sized fonts used for all words within these two lines of red text. The case back interior features the last three digits of the watch’s serial number - stamped 464, as well as IV.67. Furthermore, it’s fitted with its original Oyster bracelet, with a rare “Pat Pend”-signed extension piece.

    While remarkable for its overall condition, and insight in to early Rolex production, this watch has served an important historical role in advancing scholarship thanks to its extensive documentation and fascinating provenance. Originally sourced from a professional diver, prior to the discovery of this timepiece, scholarship had believed the HEV was developed exclusively with Rolex by the specialist company, COMEX.

    Accompanied with extensive and original documentation, the watch was originally given “on loan” in 1971 by a Rolex authorized dealer based in Singapore. An employee of Divcon-Oceaneering AG at the time, he was asked by Rolex to test the watch and regularly provide status reports and images regarding the watch and its performance at sea.

    After providing in-depth analysis and test results, documenting the watch’s performance on oil-related dives in Indonesia and Malaysia, Rolex Geneva formally thanked him for his efforts in 1972. This letter also gifts the watch to the diver, after disclosing Rolex’s newly executed, exclusive agreement with COMEX that precluded them from working with other diving firms.

    The owner’s records are the first official documents that show Rolex’s efforts to develop the HEV were not exclusive to COMEX. They are the most extensive set of documents, from original issue, to actual watch testing, to final communication from Rolex Geneva, to have surfaced for such an important dive watch.

    For the passionate collector of sports watches and mid-century horology history, this Sea-Dweller is a true find, and is a trophy watch deserving a special place of prominence in a world-class collection.

  • Artist Biography


    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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Ref. 1665
An early and historically important stainless steel wristwatch with date, center seconds and bracelet, gas escape valve, "double red" Mk I dial and patent pending case

39.5mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed, outer case back signed "Rolex Patent Pending Oyster Gas Escape Valve"

CHF100,000 - 200,000 

Sold for CHF175,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE

Geneva Auctions 13 – 14 May 2017