A fine and very rare stainless steel automatic wristwatch with center seconds, date and bracelet, gas escape valve, "double-red" Mk 1 dial, and patent pending case

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1968
    Reference No: 1665
    Case No: 2'248'008, case interior stamped IV.67
    Model Name: Sea-Dweller "Patent Pending"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1570, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Oyster Rolex bracelet, reference 9135, end links stamped 285, max. length 155mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Flip lock "PAT. PEND" extendable deployant clasp, stamped 4.69
    Dimensions: 39.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial movement and bracelet signed, outer case back signed "Rolex Oyster Gas Escape Valve Patent Pending"

  • Catalogue Essay

    By the early 1960s, Rolex had formed a partnership with COMEX, the French maritime firm specializing in deep diving operations. In order to meet their needs for a tool watch that could maintain its integrity during deep dives and decompression, Rolex developed the helium gas valve found in the case band. This allowed for gas bubbles to be released from the watch, and not build up within, reducing the risk of potential for failure. Rolex produced the reference 5514, a Submariner model with helium escape valve, for COMEX. It is interesting to note the model was never retailed to the public.
    Looking to expand their brand and with increasing demands from recreational divers, Rolex introduced the Sea-Dweller, reference 1665, in 1967. The watch housed the gas escape valve developed for COMEX, and had an unbelievable depth rating of 610 meters. While this extraordinary depth was beyond the limits of recreational diving, it showed the firm’s technological know-how and skill all at a time when there was a new exploration race - space.
    The present lot is a charismatic example of the earliest examples of the reference 1665; the “ Patent Pending Double Red Sea-Dweller”. In the realm of iconic vintage watch collecting, this rare timepiece is a must have. Scholarship believes there are only approximately 150 examples to exist with case numbers from 1.7 to 2.2 million. Rolex had yet to receive the patent for the new case design and these early examples are engraved, “Patent Pending” on the case back. The case engraving remains crisp and sharp. The case interior is stamped IV.67 and has the last three digits of the case number, ‘008’, engraved. The original and rare bracelet is dated 4.67, and with the desirable “Pat. Pending” extension piece.
    Fitted with its early and highly desirable Mark 1 dial features the distinctive “double red” signature, with equal-sized font used for all words within these two lines. It has faded over time and now has a lovely light pink tone. The original luminous material has taken on a warm brown hue, and the hands and numerals match in color. Passionate collecting is often as much about rarity and condition as it is about history and details; the present “Patent Pending Double Red” Sea-Dweller is an important link in Rolex’s long history of producing both recreational and tool watches, making it an exceptional watch for connoisseurs of important vintage Rolex sports watches.

  • 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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181

Rolex

Ref. 1665
A fine and very rare stainless steel automatic wristwatch with center seconds, date and bracelet, gas escape valve, "double-red" Mk 1 dial, and patent pending case

1968
39.5mm Diameter
Case, dial movement and bracelet signed, outer case back signed "Rolex Oyster Gas Escape Valve Patent Pending"

Estimate
CHF70,000 - 120,000 
€64,300-110,000
$72,100-124,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR

Geneva Auctions 12 – 13 November 2016