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Sea-Dweller | 'Great White'

Ref. 1665

Regular price £27,650 GBP USD EUR Enquire

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Sea-Dweller | 'Great White'

Ref. 1665

Regular price £27,650 GBP USD EUR Enquire
This vintage Rolex Sea-Dweller ‘Great White’ ref. 1665, more than any other Rolex model, perfectly embodies the concept of a tool watch. Developed for deep-sea divers in the 1960s, it exemplifies Rolex’s mission to create technically innovative pieces for niche markets, alongside models such as the jumping seconds True-Beat made for doctors or the anti-magnetic Milgauss aimed at scientists.

The Rolex Sea-Dweller
The Sea-Dweller was first developed to fulfil a narrow mission statement: survive the harsh deep-sea conditions of saturations divers. In the late 1960s, oil and gas exploration moved offshore, creating a new need for divers to go deeper than ever before and spend extended periods of time underwater, welding pipelines or installing underwater communications cables for hours at a time. The United States navy experimented with underwater habitats to prove the viability of saturation diving during SEALAB.

During SEALAB I and II, the divers were issued Rolex Submariners, however during decompression, the helium used in the breathing gas mixture would brutally expel the plexiglass on the watch as the helium forced its way out. As a response, Rolex developed a new watch featuring a helium escape valve on the side of the case (Swiss patent CH492246). It also delivered a greater depth rating, improving it from 200 to 610 meters. To be used by deep-sea divers, Rolex aptly named the model the Sea-Dweller. It was subsequently used by the U.S. Navy during the SEALAB III experiments, by the mythologised COMEX divers, and by many other professional divers since.

The 'Great White'
This particular example of the Sea-Dweller ref. 1665 follows the ten-year production of the Double Red Sea-Dweller ref. 1665, from 1967 to 1977. Keeping the same reference number, it introduced a range of new features produced for a short period of 5 years, with the current example having been manufactured in 1979. The most notable difference was the replacing of red text on the dial with white writing, hence the nickname ‘Great White’, bestowed upon it by collectors. The ‘SUBMARINER 2000’ writing on the dial was also removed, clearly indicating that the Sea-Dweller would exist as its own model, rather than as a modified Submariner.

Further, the newer ref. 1665 features a modified engraving on the caseback, which is curved along the periphery, as opposed to engraved straight across. It was also the last variation of the Sea-Dweller to feature a plexiglass crystal, a feature considered by many as crucial component of a vintage watch.

The Design
This particular Sea-Dweller ref. 1665 features a MK3 matte dial, identified tellingly by the position of the "R" in the word "Superlative", among other features. The dial is in excellent condition with creamy lume and matching original hands; the warmth of the patina complements the crisp black and white dial.

The original fat-font bezel has also aged gracefully, despite missing its luminous dot at 12 o'clock. It is worth noting that the bezel is demonstrably taller than on Submariner’s from the same period, providing more grip when handled under water. The case of the watch retains sharp, thick lugs and strong definition throughout, appearing unpolished.

Inside the Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665 sits the 26-jewel automatic 1570 caliber, which runs at 19,800 BPH and is chronometer certified. As per usual, the movement is controlled via a triple-lock crown. 

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Brand: Rolex
Model: Sea-Dweller 'Great White' Ref. 1665
Movement: Mechanical automatic caliber 1570
Functions: Date, hours, minutes, center seconds
Features: Helium escape valve
Case: 40mm stainless steel
Crystal: Plexiglass
Bracelet: Rolex Oyster riveted bracelet
Lug width: 20mm
Box & papers: Punched official chronometer certification, Rolex Oyster booklet, Chronometer booklet, calendar, Rolex folders and hangtag
The case of this 1665 Sea-Dweller 'Great White' is in good vintage condition, with nicely-preserved thick lugs and original bevels intact, appearing unpolished. Signs of wear are visible in photography. The original matte dial is in excellent condition, with no signs of tarnishing/damage and without fading on the minute markers or the Rolex logo. The handset is original and matches the dial nicely, showing signs of previous exposure to the elements at the centre. The domed glass is nicely preserved, with noticeable signs of wear throughout, visible in macro photography. The lightly faded bezel is also well-preserved, despite missing the luminous dot at 12 o'clock. 

The watch comes with its original punched official chronometer certification (dating to 1980), Rolex Oyster booklet, Rolex Chronometer booklet, Rolex calendar, hangtag and document holder (both labeled with the unique serial number of the watch), along with a chronometer tag, Rolex anchor and large document holder. It also comes fitted to its original bracelet, which is stamped 93150 on the links nearest to the 12 and 6 o'clock positions, and 585 on the end-links. It’s guaranteed for authenticity and though unserviced, maintaining good timekeeping.

All of our pre-owned watches have undergone thorough mechanical inspections, including being ultrasonically cleaned, serviced and resealed if appropriate and tested for at least four days, to ensure they meet our highest timekeeping standards. Our pre-owned and vintage watches, unless stated otherwise, are covered by a full or a limited twenty-four month warranty. For example, due to their age, some vintage watches should not be subjected to the same conditions as when they were new. Please see our Terms & Conditions for further information. 

All of our new watches are covered by the warranty from the original manufacturer. Please contact us for further information.

During a period of adjustment, we are unable to ship watches to the EU. We continue to offer express delivery to all other countries.

If ordering from the UK before 1 PM, your watch will be sent the same working day. The courier will depend on the value of the watch, with all watches delivered the next working day.

If ordering from outside Europe, delivery will depend on choice of courier and destination. 

Please note that pre-owned goods (in the United Kingdom) are subject to a marginal rate of VAT, which can not be reclaimed. For further information, please see here.

You can cancel your order without giving any reason, within 14 days from the day the watch has been delivered to you.

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