Rolex "Double Red"
Sea-Dweller Model Ref 1665 Circa 1967 to 1977, was the
first Rolex Sports model to achieve cult status among
Rolex collectors and enthusiast, but so little is known
about its development and the few variations available.
to heavy misinformation from unauthorised
Rolex information books, dealers, and even Rolex themselves,
many collectors had believed this version only to be produced
from 1971 to 1973.
have even suggested that its commercialisation was an
"after thought" and a huge publicity hunting
operation by Rolex after having lost out to Omega and
its Omega Speedmaster Professional chronograph to be the
official watch of the American astronauts.
discovery of two Rolex Sea-Dwellers ref 1665 Without Gas
Valves and Unique dials configerations has not only revolutionised
the theories behind the development of the Double Red
Sea-Dweller but makes redundant all that was written before.
had a Single Red Sea-Dweller dial with a serial number
in the 1.6 million range and the other had a Unique Double
Red Sea-Dweller/Submariner dial with a serial number in
the 1.7 million.
Sea-Dwellers Without Gas Valves.
Original Rolex Prototype Single Red Sea-Dweller Without
No.: 1665 Circa 1967 Serail Number 1.6 million range
Prototype and Unique Rolex Stainless Steel Single Red
Sea-Dweller, thin case and Without
Gas Valve. This is one of the first Rolex Sea-Dweller
to have been produced by Rolex Geneva, and presented to
a diver of great distinction.
existence of the Rolex Stainless Steel Single Red Sea-Dweller
with Gas Valve has been well catalogued by BJSOnline so
with this discovery we all move to a new level of learning
and questions. Rolex Geneva have confirmed that only 30
Rolex Sea Dweller Cases were produced without the Gas
(Bob to his friends) was a legendary diver, a very popular
and focused man.
Unique Rolex Sea-Dweller was presented to Robert Palmer
Bradley in November 1968 at the Kona
Kai Club in San Diego, California. It was for the
500th Anniversary dive of the research Submersible DEEPSTAR
4000 owned by Westinghouse. Rolex has an advert showing
DEEPSTAR 4000 and
Robert Palmer Bradley is one of the divers in the picture.
Palmer Bradley became a submersible pilot after a forced
retirement (due to injury) from the US Navy as a fighter
pilot. In June 1969 he accepted a job as a pilot of the
Submersible Pisces in Vancouver BC, and a few years later
with International Hydrodrynamics, he built the Sea Otter
and started his own company named The Artic Marine. In
many projects he worked closely with Jacques Cousteau,
and they were close friends.
Palmer Bradley lost his life November 28th 1973 in a diving
accident near Kitmat, BC. This was the first dive since
being presented The Rolex Sea-Dweller that he was not
wearing it. The watch was being serviced!!
Palmer Bradley loved Rolex Dive watches, and his collection
included many James Bond Submariners. He was surely a
man ahead of his time. His Collection was passed down
to his sons who for the last 30 years have worn and treasured
the watches on a daily basis.
Writer, Mr R. Frank Busby of Arlington Virginia, dedicated
his book, Manned Submersibles-Office of the Oceanographer
of the Navy to Robert Palmer Bradley. He wrote the following:
I the chance to peel away the years and once again decide
which path to follow, it would be towards the sea. I would
do this for two reasons: Because it is the most intriguing
subject and the most intriguing people are met on and
under its surface. Bob Bradley was, what I can only call
a delight and a rare privilege to know him."
possessed a sharp, sly sense of humor, a pioneer's sense
of adventure and displayed a scholar's interest in the
oceans. Naval Aviator, commercial diver, submersible pilot
and graduate in marine biology are not credentials one
would expect from a son of the prairies. But in a quiet,
certain, almost casual manner, Bob dealt as easily with
the deep oceans as he would have the wheatfields of his
miss him, so do the other friends he left. In a very real
sense, an early pioneer of the deep oceans, William Beebe,
described our loss":
the last individual of a race of living things breathes
no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before
such a one can be again".
Unique Prototype Double Red Sea-Dweller/Submariner
No.: 1665 Circa 1967 Serial Number 1.7 million range.
believe this dial configuration to be unique, well I have
never seen one like it, and its discovery will help us
all to understand the Rolex think tank behind the final
version of the Double Red Sea-Dweller dial.
Conclusion on the Dials.
the early 60,s Rolex had decided to introduce a Divers
watch with a date function, this was of commercial importance.
Today the Rolex Sea-Dweller Date and the Rolex Submariner
Date are two of the Top selling watches in the Rolex Sports
Watches range. That is forward thinking for you.
had two diving watches with date on the drawing board.
The Rolex Submariner and The Rolex Sea-Dweller.
original Prototypes Rolex Sea-Dweller had a thin case
and was very similar to a Rolex Submariner case. Also
the Rolex Sea-Dweller did not have a Gas Valve, did not
have any markings on the caseback, and if it was not for
the bubble on the plexi-glass of the Rolex Submariner,
it would have been very difficult to tell them apart from
a distance. And that was the problem.
these Original Prototypes Rolex Sea-Dwellers were produced
in a small batch circa 1967 and presented to the Worlds
Top Deep Sea Divers, who then "Test Drove" them,
and gave Rolex an indepth detailed report on dependability
and stability on Deep Sea dives of below 200m to around
of these Prototypes did not survive decompressions and
Rolex understood that the Gas Escape Valve developed with
Comex, and already fitted to early Rolex Comex Submariners
ref 5513 and ref 5514, would needed to be fitted to the
immediate impact was that it made the watch visually different
to the Rolex Submariner. Now the Rolex Design team had
to deveolp a dial that was strikingly different to the
Rolex Submariner Date and also a debate was still on going
as the final commercial name for the watch.
The Rolex Sea-Dweller
The Rolex Sea-Dweller Submariner
The Rolex Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000
dials were designed and produced. Rolex in their wisdom
decided to go with The Rolex Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000
and that is why the words Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000
now famously know as the Double Red Sea-Dweller, appear
there were a few inside the company who were still unhappy
about the name given to the watch as they felt it was
too long and there would be a confusion with The Rolex
Submariner and the debate continued. But one thing that
the majority agreed upon was the newly designed dial,
it was significantly different to the Submariner dial.
went full circle and settled with Rolex Sea-Dweller, short
and Rolex: A marriage made in heaven
(Compagnie Maritime E dExpertise) were a diving company
based in Marseilles that specialised in deep sea diving
for the oil industry. The Rolex Watch Company had very close
contacts with the french diving company, and in collaboration
they researched the problems caused to diving watches such
as the Rolex Submariner model ref 5513 when divers de-pressurised
in the chambers.
divers found that the helium molecules trapped in a watchcase
during the time spent in the pressurised chambers undersea
caused a build up of pressure. This resulted in the balances
to fail and, the glasses to be blown off when they were
brought back to atmospheric pressure faster than the helium
could escape the watchcase.
Rolex Comex Submariner Unique ref 5514 (with "Gas
by Rolex Watch Company in 1967 the "Gas Escape Valve"
was born. It was fitted on the side of the watchcase at
the discreet but visible nine o'clock position. This simple
engineering masterpiece ensured that during decompression
the gases were released from the watchcase.
"Gas Escape Valve" was first fitted on the Rolex
Comex Submariner model ref 5513 with Comex markings on the
case and later Rolex produced a Unique Model ref for Comex,
namely the Rolex Submariner model ref 5514.
development of the "Gas Escape Valve" and its
connections with COMEX gave Rolex the opportunity to develop
and market a commercially unique diving watch. Features
on the case back (giving it the look of a Rolex Comex)
or Full serial number engraved inside the case back (only
seen on Comex 5513 and Military Subs)
called it a "gimmick" as few if any consumer would
ever be called to find themselves anywhere near 2000 feet