Rolex Rolex 1665 Double Red Sea-Dweller Tropical MK2 full set

Rolex 1665 Double Red Sea-Dweller Tropical MK2 full set

Brand: Rolex
Model: Sea Dweller
Reference: 1665
Gender: Uni-sex
Year: 1972
Material: stainless steel
Dial Color: black
Dimensions: 40 mm
Watch Movement: automatic
Bracelet/Strap: stainless steel
Box/Paper: full set
Condition: Excellent

This is a rare opportunity to get yourself a rally nice and super cool Rolex 1665 Double Red Sea-Dweller with a rare Mark II tropical chocolate dial and beautiful thin case. This effect is only seen with the MK2 execution, which is why it is extremely sought-after.  This watch comes as a full set with the full length bracelet with the correct year code and divers extension. This is a collector’s dream. The grail of grails for collectors of hardcore Rolex toolwatches.


Characteristics reference 1665

The Sea-Dweller is a Submariner on steroids! Launched in the late 1960s, it has been developed for the saturation divers of SeaLab and was introduced to meet the needs of commercial divers to reach greater depths. The 1665 reference has been made from until 1967 until 1982. You can recognize a 1665 Sea-Dweller due to the following 2 main characteristics:

  • Superdome acrylic crystal without a cyclops. This model lacks a cyclops or date loupe— providing a cleaner and more simple look in comparison with its sibling the Submariner Date.
  • Then there is the signature feature that defines the Sea-Dweller – the Gas Escape Valve. The watch incorporates a helium release escape valve for gas decompression chambers

The reference 1665 has a couple of different executions. The first examples weren’t introduced for the general public but were prototypes and tested by professional divers. These examples were the Single Red Sea-Dwellers with a depth rating of 1650 ft/500 m. These were followed by the Double Red Sea-Dwellers which were commercially introduced in late 1968/beginning of 1969. The dials of the Great White had less text since the text SUBMARINER 2000  was removed.


Comex: Omega or Rolex?

In the very early years of underwater exploration, inner space as it came to be known, one of the most innovative companies called COMEX was the main player. From 1968 until the end of 1970, Omega supplied COMEX exclusively to develop the most highly engineered professional dive watches in existence at that time.


In the late sixties COMEX started pioneering a new method of diving called "Saturation Diving" which allowed divers to stay submerged for much greater lengths of time. Saturation diving is a diving technique that allows divers to reduce the risk of decompression sickness ("the bends") when they work at great depths for long periods of time. When divers dive into the great depths there is always

always a danger of decompression sickness which occurs when inert gas that had been absorbed by the body forms bubbles under the pressure of decompression. These bubbles can then block blood vessels or damage nearby cells. By having the divers breathe a mixture of helium, hydrogen and oxygen in their tanks and then having them breathe the same mixture in a pressurized underwater environment, the divers can last for days (or even weeks) underwater and only resurface once at the end of the dive, thus reducing the risk of the bends significantly. However, the human body is much more adept at disposing of helium than a watch case is. The divers found that helium molecules would pass through the seals of a watch and expand. Violently. Imagine a champagne cork but made of the crystal of a watch. Not what you want to be happening hundreds of meters underwater in a small capsule.


By the end of the decade COMEX aimed to send divers down to depths of 300 meters (1,000 ft+), 100 meters deeper than the highest rated Submariner or Seamaster could handle. This objective was the motivation for the Rolex Sea-Dweller and Omega Seamaster 600. Both brands took up the challenge to produce the best watch for saturation diving.


After unknowingly conquering outer space with their ‘Moon watch’, Omega set their sights closer to home, forging an exclusive partnership with COMEX from  1968 to 1971.They worked closely with the dive firm, testing prototypes and developing new watches. Most famously, the Omega Seamaster 600 Ploprof. Omega wanted to produce the ultimate saturation dive watch, to satisfy the legitimate market demand of a booming industry.


Omega designed a Omega decided to completely start afresh from anything they had made before and it took four years of development to produce the Ref. 166.077, the Omega Seamaster 600, in 1970. Their original plans had been to fashion a watch using titanium (10 prototypes had already been made) but titanium was very expensive to buy and very difficult to machine. Instead of titanium, Omega developed a solid stainless steel mono-block case; by forgoing the removable case back, the only two points of entry for water were the crown and the crystal. After chemical treatment to make it anti-reflective and anti-abrasive, a 4mm thick mineral crystal was tested at being able to withstand pressure of up to 60 atmospheres. If you look at the crown on the Seamaster 600 you could be forgiven for thinking that it is square, however this is just a shield that would stop the crown from unwinding accidentally under pressure. Due to the large crown guards and this extra cover, Omega decided to place the crown at the 9 o'clock position so divers could move their right hand free from obstruction. The name PloProf actually came from the French divers who used the Seamaster, Plongeur Professionel, Plo. Prof. Rather than the standard uni-directional bezel, the bezel on the Seamaster was bi-directional and was activated by pushing the orange button located on the side of the watch.  


Throughout the years there have been pieces of technology that have gone far above and beyond the call of duty. The PloProf is one of those pieces. It. is. insane. When Omega first launched the Seamaster 300 in 1957, it was actually only water resistant to 200m and was only called the 300 because it sounded better. So it was a reverse twist of fate that the PloProf was actually tested under far stricter conditions than its claimed 600m. Tested to a simulated depth of 1370m, the only reason the watch wasn't tested further was that the glass expanded and had jammed the second hand stopping the watch. Once the pressure subsided the movement started working perfectly again. Whilst Rolex had opted to go for a more high-tech approach, Omega instead went for sheer brute force (very well engineered and brilliantly designed brute force, mind). Not that I think it was a bad approach, as in fact I prefer the sheer nonsense of the PloProf over the more refined and technically advanced Sea-Dweller.  At the time the PloProf was Omega's most expensive piece, but I doubt that they ever recouped the cost of development even with a nine year production time. For the general public its unwieldy size of 54mm by 45mm was just too huge. Even today it's considered a beast, so think what it must have been like back in 1970!


I think it would be a fair assessment of Rolex to say that they are the more conservative of the two companies. Whilst Omega was designing a completely new piece that would just tough it out against helium, Rolex decided on a more elegant approach and took to modifying an existing Submariner reference, the 5513. It is interesting to note that on the Rolex website they write that making a watch impervious to helium is "a practically impossible task". Obviously no-one told them about the PloProf! What Rolex developed would soon become the standard for all professional diving watches thereafter, the Helium Escape Valve or HEV. By having a uni-directional valve on the side of the watch, it would allow the small helium molecules to exit the watch without causing any damage. In November of 1967 Rolex applied for a patent for the HEV valve but released the new Ref. 1655 anyway, two years before the patent was granted.


Source: timepiecechronicle the-call-of-the-sea-the-omega-seamaster-600-vs-the-rolex-sea-dweller


SeaLab and Rolex


The SeaLab was an experimental arm of the US Navy who were trying to prove the viability of humans living underwater for an extended period of time.

SEALAB I, II, and III were experimental underwater habitats developed by the United States Navy in the 1960s to prove the viability of saturation diving and humans living in isolation for extended periods of time. This was known as saturation diving, where helium was used in the breathing gas mixture.


Prior to the partnership with COMEX, Rolex had a very different approach to testing their products, they would loan their watches out to divers, in exchange for routine test reports. From 1968 to 1971 Rolex aligned themselves with the US Navy, working closely on their experimental diving unit, most famously their underwater SEALAB habitats. Under this relationship, Rolex issued watches to SEALAB divers – known as Aquanauts. Examples of these SEALAB issued Rolexes are extremely rare, and seldom seen.


During the first two SEALAB saturation diving experiments, Aqunanaut Bob Barth observed how Rolex Submariner watches exploded when the divers decompressed after weeks at depth. Tiny helium molecules from the special breathing gas (Heliox) had slowly entered the watches during the prolonged exposure and became trapped. The internal pressure-now much higher than the steadily decreasing pressure inside the decompression chamber-caused the weakest part of the watches, the crystals, to pop off. Bob Barth figured a small one-way valve could solve the problem. Bob’s brilliant idea reached Rolex through a diver named T.Walker Lloyd. This gave birth to the Gas Escape Valve which would become a signature feature of the Rolex Sea-Dweller.


Source: Perzecope, History of the Sea-Dweller


The true origins of the Sea-dweller

Initially, Rolex was excited by the vast potential of the relationship, well aware of the upside on such a partnership. However, it appears that the US Navy’s progress was slowed down by bureaucracy. Rolex watched on frustrated, as the Omega and COMEX partnership appeared to advance at a rapid pace.


So, as the story goes, in 1971 then Rolex CEO, Andre Heiniger, reached out to COMEX founder, Henri-Germain Delauze with a rather straightforward proposal. Rolex would provide all COMEX divers with special Rolex Submariner and Sea-Dweller watches at no cost, in exchange for COMEX providing detailed performance analysis reports – thus satisfying COMEX’s need for more timepieces as they grew.


It's important to remember that Rolex didn't get it right straight away. Their Submariner models suffered under decompression as the helium gas would force their crystal's to pop out of the case with some force. Then very first Sea-Dweller models which are often considered prototypes, with a single line of red text, weren't perfect either. Of the six that are known to have been made only two of them feature the crystal-saving helium escape valve.


A common misnomer is that, like Omega – Rolex worked in the same collaborative way with COMEX to develop the Sea-Dweller. In reality, the Sea-Dweller was named by the SEALAB divers, meaning the famous Paten Pending Double Red Sea-Dweller (PPDRSD) ref. 1665 was created prior to Rolex's relationship with COMEX in 1971. That same year the Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665 was launched to the public, after 5 years of prototyping


Rolex continued their official relationship with Comex until 1997, which ended with the Rolex Sea-Dweller, Reference 16600. Throughout the partnership, Rolex was involved in several highly publicised world records, highlighting just how comfortable the Sea-Dweller was at the deepest depths of the ocean.


Source acollectedman


DRSD dial variations


There are at least seven different variations of the DRSD dials that were sold to the public.

The distinctive characteristics of the these dials are as follow:


  1. The initial dial's print is in red, possibly printed over white paint and both lines have similar size fonts. A few of these have faded and the lettering almost looks pink or white. The coronet is clearly delineated and flat, but the "O" under the spikes can be clearly visualized. Most of the dials of this version have the "patent pending" caseback and serial numbers between 1.7 and 2.2 million.


  1. The second version of the dial, is seen in approximately 1.7 million cases. The distinguishing characteristic of this dial is the print The print is usually directly applied onto the dial and is a bright red and crisp. The font is smaller on the second line. The dial sometimes changed color from a matt black to a light brown or chocolate color, otherwise known as a "chocolate" dial. The coronet spikes are distorted and the "O" under it is almost non existent.


  1. This version, I have seen in a few authentic watches. The dial red print is very similar to the one above but the coronet is clearly printed and has a flat bottom very similar to version I.


The "D" in Sea-Dweller lines up with the "R" in Submariner 2000.  In the version II, the "D" in Sea-Dweller lines up with "I" in Submariner 2000. Compared to the dial in version II, the print is similar, the depth markings are spacing is different as delineated above and the coronet is also different.


  1. The final version of the dial was marketed for general production and is the most common type of dial. The red print of this dial is clear but not heavy, and when viewed thru a loupe it appears as though it is made of dots. The font of the red lettering is significantly larger on the top line of the two red lines printed. The coronet is large and the spikes are clearly defined and the "O" under the coronet is quite large.


  1. This is a current version of this dial. The coronet is similar to the Mark II dial. The writing is in red. The depth markings "ft" and "m" are in italics and more importantly, the markers contain luminova.


  1. This is just the replacement luminova white SD dial with red paint over the "SEADWELLER" portion. Interesting..


  1. this is the third replacement dial from Rolex. This dial is also luminova and has two lines of red.


The red writing is about the same size, similar to the mark I, and printed directly on the dial. The coronet appears to be similar to the upcoming Deep Sea. The depth markings are in italics. An attractive new dial indeed.


The dial is being issued as replacement of correct dials in early part of 2008.


Source Ed Delgado website drsd com


What is a tropical dial

Tropical dials are highly valuated by collectors. But actually what are they? These dials  are actually discolored due to their conditions where they have been in. That is actually what makes these vintage pieces so interesting because they are unique. They can develop their own character depending to the conditions such as sunlight, or even the abundance of light like in a safe, but also the humidity or moisture that affects the conditions of the lacquer and luminescent material on the hour markers and hands.


But the most appreciated dials that actually turned into brown or caramel are the dials that are discolored due to UV rays. The process to achieve a true tropical dial look requires UV (sun) exposure.


“One of the most important reasons why “true” tropical dial watches are rare is because not all watch dials can become discolored. Most of today’s better watches use paint and coloring processes that are specifically designed not to discolor even after long exposure to UV rays. Even those vintage watches which can discolor were not supposed to. A small handful of dial suppliers in Switzerland used paint which had a chemical manufacturing defect that was not as UV-resistant as was assumed. The irony was that discovering the defect took a number of years because the dials would not discolor after brief exposure to sunlight, but only after years of it.


Not all UV-exposure renders a watch dial attractive. Overexposure bleaches out an originally black dial resulting in a light brown color which is not particularly attractive to most collectors. The sweet spot features watch dials which have discolored to form a warm chocolate color. The “ideal” example to some collectors are tropical dials with consistent brown-colored dials”. (credits Michael Young ablogtowatch)


Thin case

The 1665 was initially rushed to production and some early watches were sent to dealers for promotion or early sales.  Some authorities state that the number is less, about 150, while others argue that the number is much larger and that several hundred may have been made.


The helium valve had been developed and the patent had been applied, but Rolex had not received final approval. Therefore, the engraving on the caseback of these early sea dwellers stated in parenthesis “Patent Pending”:


All the casebacks were done in late 1960's and have a 1967 stamp inside the caseback, together with the last three digits of the serial number.


The Early Production Sea-Dwellers had a MK2 dial. They were still fitted on the Sea Dweller after the HEV patent has been registrated and these watches were officially distributed by Rolex to their retailers in the early 1970’s with a caseback that says “Rolex Patent Oyster Gas Escape Valve”.


Most of these watches were purchased by professional divers for extreme diving projects and ten of these early 1665’s were delivered to Comex in 1971 for their diving experiments.


The thin case Sea Dweller was produced only for a couple of years before the case was upgraded to a thicker version and the dial was replaced by a new variation (mk3).



The Double Red SeaDweller (DRSD) was produced for approximately 10 years from 1967 to 1977 with serial number range 1.7 to 5.1 million.

The Sea-Dweller with MK2 Dials you can find in the 1.6-3.5 range.

To find a thin case, tropical DRSD  as a full set is a collector’s dream. This will be more and more dififcult to find.

Model information and characteristics

  • Ttriple-lock or triple system waterproof crown, featuring a triple gasket system, identified by three dots on the crown. The Twinlock system included one O-ring gasket under the crown to push against the case to create a wall against outside moisture. However, the second O-ring gasket (hence the “Twin”) was located inside the tube surrounding the winding stem to keep the water out even when the crown was unscrewed. The third-generation waterproof winding crown named Triplock, is fitted with a triple waterproofness system. It was introduced in the late 60s early 70sto equip the Sea-Dweller, the model designed for professional deep-sea divers. To further reinforce the waterproofness, even if the crown should remain unscrewed under water, Rolex engineers added a second O-ring inside the tube. This acts as a kind of airlock, safely keeping out even the minutest particles. Today, the Triplock system equips all the brand’s divers’ watches as well as a number of other Professional models.
  • Case made from solid block of stainless steel and Waterproof to a maximum depth of 600 m (2000 ft).
  • Bi-directional rotatable bezel
  • Perpetual rotor in the self-winding wristwatch mechanism, allowing the watch to run continuously, as every slight movement of the wrist winds the movement. The energy generated is stored in the mainspring, allowing the watch to continue to function with no movement for several days.



This stunning example of the Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665 reference is in really good vintage condition. It has all the good parts what makes this a great looking vintage piece. The present lot was produced circa 1971 and features a well preserved Mark II dial. The case retains very attractive and hard-to-come-by proportions and the dial has started to develop a charming tropical patina, creating an attractive juxtaposition of colours with the much-desired double red signature. Moreover, the watch comes with its original folded link bracelet and matching caseback which displays the last 3 digits of the case number engraved to the interior. The present watch provides a rare opportunity to acquire a unique piece imbued with history and uniqueness.

Dial: Original tritium dial with stunning tropical patina. Similarly to the case, the dial is in excellent condition, the hour markers of the dial have a really nice patina with a kind of creamy colour.

Hands: Original Tritium hands. The creamy patina of the hands match the patina of the hour markers perfectly.

Case: the thin case is in very good original condition. The watch has only been lightly polished during its lifetime. Reference & serial numbers are fully legible.

Crown: Original Rolex triple lock crown.

Bezel & Insert: comes with a lightly faded fat font Mark III bezel insert. It is a sharp original bezel with original "Hooked 5" insert with Tritium dot present..

Bracelet: Rolex 9315  folded oyster link bracelet with 380 end links. Bracelet has some minor stretch and wear but is in really great wearable condition.

Movement: Bought serviced serviced by our watchmaker.. Running perfectly with a one year service warranty. The watch carries the the self-winding automatic 1575 movement polished decorations and circular Côtes de Genève finishings. The movement features 26 jewels and a bi-directional central rotor, beating at 19,800 A/h, with a power reserve of 42-hours. The movement is clean, and during the time of testing the watch was fully functional.

Accessories: None.

Notes: Absolutely stunning example of a super desirable Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665 with an attractive dial, original hands and original folded bracelet. Very hard to find these in this condition.

Overall, the Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665 is noteworthy, both for its design and execution. This Great White is remarkably well preserved. 

As with all of our pre-owned watches this watch comes with a full 12 month warranty with ourselves that will be invoked from the day of purchase.

Viewings can be arranged at our office by appointment.



This particular watch has just undergone a full service. This work was carried out by our Rolex authorized watchmaker using Rolex parts.


As with all of our pre-owned watches this watch comes with a full 12 month warranty with ourselves that will be invoked from the day of purchase.


If you put it on your wrist, you feel you have locked and Wrist Icon!




  • Brand: Rolex
  • Model: Rolex Sea-Dweller
  • Serial number: 29268xx
  • Reference: 1665
  • Year: Circa 1972
  • caliber: Automatic 1575 movement w/date (base caliber 1530) 26 jewels beating at 19.800 betas per hour.
  • Case: It has a stainless steel case with screw down case back. waterproof screw-down crown, rotatable time-lapse diver's bezel, acrylic crystal.    Excellent case with some wear from use. Comes with a rare transitional caseback. Serial and reference numbers are crisp and well defined.
  • Bezel and insert: comes with a lightly faded fat font Mark III bezel insert. It is a sharp original bezel with original "Hooked 5" insert with Tritium dot present.
  • Dimensions: 40 mm diameter;
  • Crystal: Plexiglass super dome
  • Dial: Excellent black matte Mark II dial with warm creamy markers.
  • Bracelet/Strap: stainless steel Rolex 9315 period correct folded oyster bracelet with a Rolex signed 9315 flip lock buckle with diver extension. It wears really good, since it is a super tight original Rolex 9315 Oyster bracelet with 380 end links. Bracelet has date code 4 71 (1971)) and has 11 links + the original PATETED (without N) diver extension. Bracelet has been polished and the Rolex crown on the clasp is nice & crisp.
  • Lug Width: 20mm
  • Box/Papers: full set, comes with box double punched papers, chronometer certificate, 1971 calendar and Rolex tag.



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