Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Single RED SEA-DWELLER



The Complete History Of
The Rolex Submariner & SEA-DWELLER
Rolex's Conquest Of The Ocean
CHAPTER 19


  Basel World 2017 - All New Model  




The Return Of The 

Single RED SEA-DWELLER

50th Anniversary Model

What!?!! OMG!!!! Is this actually real? I can't believe what I am seeing!?!! I was hoping for the 50th Anniversary of the SEA-DWELLER, Rolex would do something special, but this is over-the-top cool!!! Finally!?!! The long-ovedue return of The Single RED!!!! and 43MM, with a relatively flat back, superb proportions, and skinny case!!!!! with the new caliber 3235 movement!!!!! All my prayers have finally been answered!!!!



A Touch Of Red

So what is the big deal with this watch? Why am I so excited about it? For a bunch of reasons! First, is the fact the dial  now has a touch of red, which breaks up the monotony of the black, white and silver color combination. Red is such a great color, and I would argue that many things in life can benefit from a touch of red. On the color spectrum red, is located exactly in the middle of black and white. Also, all the original SEA-DWELLER models, known as Double Red SEA-DWELLER watches had a red SEA-DWELLER dial designation. Notice in the image below how the perfectly scaled-up Single RED SEA-DWELLER has a completely different vibe. The red SEA-DWELLER designation really pops, and the larger size gives the watch more presence and a more masculine charismatic vibe.


The very first Rolex SEA-DWELLER models, which are extremely rare are referred to as a Single Red SEA-DWELLER and have a Rolex Reference Number of 1665. These watches are typically worth upwards of a half a million dollars. The photo below shows a very early Single RED Rolex SEA-DWELLER, which is so much cooler and cleaner-looking than the Double Red SEA-DWELLER models. So the brand new for 2017 Rolex SEA-DWELLER looks very reminiscent of the original Single RED SEA-DWELLER, as pictured below.





A Matter Of Proportions

Also when Rolex introduced the Rolex DEEP-SEA SEA-DWELLER (DSSD), I did not like it, since I thought it was WAY too thick. It looked too affected and you could not wear it very well with a cuffed dress shirt. Rolex seemed to agree and later introduced an all new 40MM SEA-DWELLER, but it was too small in diameter and lacked the super-cool, retro Single RED SEA-DWELLER dial designation. The new 2017 SEA-DWELLER is 43MM, which is the perfect size and has perfect proportions as seen in the side profile view below. I with it has less of a bubble back, but its not that bad. Also, the side profile of the case is awesome.


I think Rolex should also make a 43 or 44MM Submariner model, as human beings have grown considerably in height and width since 1953. In other words, I am much bigger than my father and both grandfathers were in the mid 1950s. Also the new model offers both the Rolex Glidelock clasp system that allows the wearer to easily adjust the clasp without having to use any tools. 

There are also other proportional improvements Rolex made with the 50th Anniversary SEA-DWELLER when compared to the Rolex DEEP-SEA SEA-DWELLER (typically referred to as the DSSD) which is pictured below on the far right. The scaling on the DSSD was weird and in my opinion, disproportionate. Obviously with a case thickness of almost 18MM is was way too thick. Also the DSSD has an addition of a ring lock that runs around the dial like a life saver, and makes the dial look disproportionately small to the rest of the watch. In addition, Rolex put an Oyster Bracelet on the case that was the same width at the solid end links as the 40MM Submariner, which made no sense at all. In other words it looked like Schwarzenegger back in the day, with skinny little women's legs, or like my pal Amit said :"The DSSD looks like Mr. Potato Head" :-) 

On the all-new 50th Anniversary Single Red SEA-DWELLER, Rolex proportionately scaled-up the width of the bracelet at the solid end links to make it wider, and thus it gives the watch a much more streamlined, masculine look.

I have some good news and bad news about this watch. The GREAT NEWS is that this watch is magnificent and shows Rolex moving full-speed ahead in design. The bad news is I'm afraid there are going to be long iPhone-like lines for this beauty...Like the TESLA Model 3, or even worse, the 2005 Daytona 4-5 year wait lists...This Rolex is going to be all the rage, and then some!!!












Rolex 

SEA-DWELLER

50th Anniversary 

Jubilee Celebration


The Rolex SEA-DWELLER is the stuff of legend. The story of man and the sea, as well as the story of man and machine, have captivated and fascinated the human imagination since the beginning of recorded time. This story of the exploration of inner space tells how the science fiction of one century became the reality of the next century, and how Rolex played a critical role in the history of The Right Stuff. It tells the history of man returning to live and work underwater in the DEEP-SEA, as depicted in 1871 illustration seen below from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The SEA. It's Captain Nemo and the Nautilus come to life...



Have you ever wondered where the term Rolex "SEA-DWELLER" came from? In other words, what is the genesis of the term "SEA-DWLLER", and why did Rolex used this nomenclature for one of its most iconic tool watches? This story will answer that question...The photo below is of the very first Rolex "Single Red" SEA-DWELLER prototype, and as we see from the dial designation it began its life as a Submariner variant...You can kind of think of the SEA-DWELLER as the Submariner's bigger, little brother :-)




I am fairly certain I remember the first time I ever saw a Rolex Submariner. It was featured in a Rolex Submariner advertisement in National Geographic. I believe I was 14 years old at the time.

I remember the first time I saw and held a Rolex SEA-DWELLER in my hand. I think I as 15, and it was at a Rolex Authorized dealer in Mill Valley, California. I was checking out the Submariner, which I was madly in love with, and I saw the SEA-DWELLER sitting next to it. I curiously asked the salesman about the model. He pulled it out and handed it to me. I noticed it was noticeably thicker than the Submariner, and it has a weird circular disk shape on the left side of it's case.


Vintage Rolex Double Red SEA-DWELLER Pictured Above from 1967


The salesman explained the SEA-DWELLER was a tool watch for DEEP-SEA divers, and he said it had a helium release valve in case you dove down hundreds of feet into the ocean to do some saturation diving, the watch would release helium. I tried on the SEA-DWELLER and immediately dismissed it as being a stupid bloated watch. I remember it had an old-fashioned huge bubble-back that made it sit up really high on the wrist, which I did not like. The Submariner by contrast sat relatively low and flat on my wrist in, which gave it a streamlined modern look. The Rolex Submariner was the watch for me, and the SEA-DWELLER was an inferior cur dog that was unnecessarily complicated.


A decade ago, when I first started publishing Jake's Rolex World, I started seeing all kinds of interesting Rolex SEA-DWELLER models I had never seen before—especially the Double Red SEA-DWELLER models, and I started to wonder about the name on a SEA-DWELLER dial. I new what Submariner meant, as well as why a Rolex Day-Date was called a Day-Date. I also knew why a Daytona was named a Daytona, and why a Datejust was called a Datejust, but I had no idea why a SEA-DWELLER was named a SEA-DWELLER. I remember thinking to myself, "What the hell is a SEA-DWELLER!?!!"



In 2008 I set out on a fascinating journey to answer that question, and as a result I wrote what has now become a 19 Chapter Online Series named, "The Complete History Of The Rolex Submariner & SEA-DWELLER: Rolex's Conquest Of The Ocean." I followed one lead after another, and literally stumbled into the untold history of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER that even Rolex had forgotten about.






A BRIEF HISTOR OF THE ROLEX SEA-DWELLER



On The 50th Anniversary of the SEA-DWELLER I will attempt to share all the insight I have gained into the real history of this iconic tool watch. This story is based upon many, many interviews I have conducted over the past decade of key players including U.S. NAVY SEALAB Aquanauts, as well as the founder of the French diving company, COMEX, Henri-Germain Delauze. Since I interviewed most of these old boys, most of them have unfortunately passed away, but this article is based upon the insight they shared with me.





The 1922 Rolex Submarine


Let's go back to the beginning, before Rolex even invented the Rolex Oyster. Wrist watches really only started being worn during World War I, around 1915. Rolex's founder, Hans Wilsdorf strongly believe wrist watches were not a passing fad, and worked hard to promote his Rolex wrist watches. Prior to 1915 more than 99% of watches were pocket watches, as they were kept in a vest pocket, which protected them from dust and perspiration. Wrist watches were much more exposed to the elements, thus it was an early engineering objective to try to make them waterproof. The photos below show one such Rolex model named the Rolex Submarine.




Notice the watch pictured above and below is NOT named Rolex Submariner, but Rolex Submarine. This watch pre-dated the Rolex Oyster which was successfully patented by Rolex in 1926. The Rolex Submarine was a 'hermetically sealed" watch, meaning you had to unscrew its top bezel, which screwed on using threads, like a jar lid. This "jar lid" bezel included the glass crystal, and had a fluted bezel which made it easier to grip with fingers.




The Rolex Submarine was Rolex's first attempt at making a waterproof watch. Several years later, Rolex finally broke the code, and in 1926 introduced the Rolex Oyster which was the first truly waterproof watch.







The original Rolex Oyster had an art-deco cushion case as seen above, and in 1935 Guido Panerai's Italian company purchased a special oversized version of this model known as the elusive Reference 2533, which appears below.



Digital Visualization of 1935 Rolex Reference 2533 by PEREZCOPE.com 


The receipt for this now mythical oversized Rolex Oyster that was sold to Panerai is pictured below. Chance are you are seeing this for the first time as it has never been displayed publicly until now. It comes courtesy of Jose @ Perezcope.com, who is one of the top vintage Panerai historians today. 




The result of the metamorphosis from a Rolex Oyster pocket watch to a Panerai wristwatch is seen below in the form of a Rolex made Panerai 3646 with what is now typically referred to as a "California Dial. I discovered and published my findings many years ago, about how a great deal of design language from this watch was later incorporated into the Rolex Submariner and SEA-DWELLER. Specifically, the dial design, where they both have upside down triangle markers at 12, as well as rectangular markers at 3, 6, and 9.
Jose created the image below that compares the patented art-deco Rolex California dial from 1944 to the 1953 Rolex SUB-AQUA dial, and here you really see the similarities.






Jose also created and just published a Panerai timeline timeline that beautifully illustrates the evolution of the Panerai, from the Rolex Reference 2533 into the world first Diving watch.




This timeline builds upon the previous illustration work I published years ago on Jake's Rolex World in my story titled, "The Complete History Of The Rolex Submariner & SEA-DWELLER: Rolex's Conquest Of The Ocean", which appeared in Chapter 3 of my 18 Chapter Story, and was titled, "Panerai & The Italian Royal Navy (The First Rolex Diving Watch)." I was so moved by writing that story, I ended up starting Jake's Panerai World Magazine. To sum up Panerai in a nutshell would be to say basically the vast majority of Panerai watches made from 1935 to 1954, were made by Rolex for Panerai, and they were the first real diving/tool watches. In 1953 when Rolex introduced the Rolex Submariner at Basel Fair in Switzerland, that all changed. The Rolex Submariner became the first commercial  dive watch available.




Jacques-Yves Cousteau
The First Rolex Submariner

Jacques Yves-Cousteau is considered to be the father of Scuba Diving and modern underwater exploration, and he worked with Rolex in the early 1950s to develop the Rolex Submariner as seen on his wrist below in 1953.




Years ago I published the 1953 document below that proved that Jacques-Yves Cousteau tested  early prototype Rolex Submariner models.


My pal Auro who is one of the leading vintage Rolex collectors from Italy wrote shared the photo below of his 1953 Rolex Submariner pictured below and he said:

"This very early Rolex Submariner [Reference 6404] has the serial number of 949,140, which is even earlier than the 1953 Rolex Submariner you showed in the photo at the top of this story. Rolex does not have early watches in their museum, the real Rolex museum is in the safes of collectors!"

Notice the very unusual "Submariner Perpetual" dial designation on this watch...







Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his Calypso team tested prototype Rolex Submariner watches while they filmed their Academy Award winning documentary named "The Silent World", which the poster below is from.



The color photo above shows Jacques Cousteau testing a Rolex Submariner in the early 1950s, and the 1957 magazine ad pictured below shows how Rolex advertised the early Submariner models.


Jacques-Yves Cousteau is pictured below with National Geographic Photographer, Luis Marden in 1956.


The photo below is from 1959 and shows Luis Marden wearing his Rolex Submariner on a photography shoot.


The Luis Marden Rolex ad below was originally published in 1976.





The 1953 Rolex DEEP-SEA Special Prototype

The following ad from Rolex shows the early prototype of the Rolex DEEP-SEA Special that set an earlier record in 1953 on the Bathyscaph Trieste when it set a record of 10,350 feet. This watch differs from the one version that was attached to the Bathyscaph Trieste in 1960 in that it has what appears to be a spinning bezel. This 1953 Rolex ad is a bit of a mystery, as there is not one known example on earth of this special 1953 DEEP-SEA Submariner. Notice on the illustration that the watch has what appears to be a spinning bezel with graduated time markers like you would find on a modern Rolex SEA-DWELLER.



The 1960 Rolex DEEP-SEA Special Prototype

This next ad is from early 1961 and Rolex shares its stunning story of accomplishment. It is fascinating to note that Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex was born on March 22, 1881 and passed away on July 6, 1960 in Geneva, just 6 months after the Rolex DEEP-SEA Special prototype had set the world depth record. 

Han's Wilsdorf's Oyster Perpetual had successfully conquered the top of the world and the bottom of the ocean–his work was done and he must have passed away one satisfied man.





1964 Rolex Cities Under The Sea

In the mid-to-late 1960s it was apparent to everybody, including Rolex, that Rolex owned the world of Aquatic Watches. Rolex was eager to share this rich heritage with the world as we see in the 1964 ad. It is also worth nothing that this ad serves as serious clue in the puzzle of the SEA-DWELLER. 


If we carefully read the conclusion above it number 4, it says "A Rolex takes a long, hard time to create...but it will still serve your son as he keeps appointments in cities under the sea." BINGO!!!! You see, back in 1964 the world was a lot bigger and slower. There was no internet or cable TV. People back then were easily fascinated with non-sensical aquatic science-fiction, like The Creature From The Black Lagoon, or The Man From Atlantis, or Aquaman, or even The Bermuda Triangle. The movie Jaws and Star Wars was still more than a decade away. The idea that man might build and occupy underwater colonies seemed very real, and with underwater habitat programs like Jacques-Yves Cousteau's Operation Conshelf, or the U.S. Navy SEALAB, it all seem real. Even Rolex bought into it, and that is where the name "SEA-DWELLER" comes from, and means.




1967 U.S. Navy Submariner

Rolex's relationship with the U.S. Navy would deepen significantly when Rolex co-developed the original SEA-DWELLER with the U.S. Navy SEALAB diver, Bob Barth. Rolex seems to have understood, in many ways that exploring the magnificent world of the ocean in some way held the key to mankind's understanding of land.



The SEA-DWELLER

When I began Jake's Rolex World a decade ago, there was a myth that was perpetuated that said that Rolex co-developed the Rolex SEA-DWELLER watch the French Deep-Sea diving company. It turned out this was NOT true, and I discover the true story of how and why Rolex developed the SEA-DWELLER. I literally stumbled in to the true story of the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER and it all begins with this man, Scott Carpenter.


I conducted a podcast interview with Scott Carpenter, and he shared stories about his career achievements that gave me some deep clues as to the real story. Scott Carpenter was the first NASA Astronaut in history to become an Aquanaut. 


After he flew his project Mercury mission, he told his commander at the U.S. Navy that he wanted to work with Jacques-Yves Cousteau on the Calypso, with Project Conshelf. The Navy granted him permission to do so, and he flew to meet with Jacques Cousteau and told him he wanted to join the Operation Conshelf team. Jacques Cousteau told him that he would love to have him be part of his team, but the challenge was that very few of the men on Cousteau's Calypso ship spoke English, and since Scott didn't speak French, it would be a challenge. 


Then Jacques Cousteau said to Scott Carpenter. I have a better idea for you. Why don't you join the U.S. Navy SEALAB program as an aquanaut. 


Scott had not heard about  the SEALAB program, but immediately flew back to the United States and joined SEALAB.




SEALAB

Scott Carpenter introduced me to a number of key players who were involved in the the SEALAB program with him, which included Rolex USA Executive, T. Walker Lloyd; SEALAB Co-Director, Walter Mazzone, and SEALAB 3 Team Leader, Bob Barth, as well as numerous other men involved in the mission. I conducted detailed interviews with each of them, and I will offer a topographical overview of the key players.


T. Walker Lloyd

I spent more than 9 hours interviewing T. Walker Lloyd who is pictured below in his U.S. Marines photo. You can listen to my podcast and learn much more in my story named, "The Right Stuff, The Complete History Of The Rolex SEA-DWELLER: Rolex X Files with T. Walker Lloyd."



T. Walker Lloyd is picture and featured below in the 1974 Rolex SEA-DWELLER ad.



T. Walker Lloyd told me a story about how he was at a Scuba Diving convention in New York, when he met a U.S. Navy SEALAB Mission Diver named Robert "Bob" Barth, who is pictured below wearing a Rolex Tudor Submariner, during Operation Genesis in August of 1963, just before he joined the Operation SEALAB team.


I spent countless hours interviewing Bob Barth for a podcast, which I still have not published. Hopefully in the future I will find the time to edit and publish my interviews with him. It turns out that he and fellow SEALAB Aquanaut, Scott Carpenter ended up becoming best friends for life until Scott passed away several years ago.



U.S. Naval School Of DEEP-SEA Divers

So what do Bob Barth and T. Walker Lloyd have to do with the development of the Rolex SEA-DWLLER? Everything. Basically, they developed the SEA-DWELLER with Rolex. Bob Barth is pictured below, in the back row, third from the left. Speaking of the SEA-DWELLER, where did the name DEEP-SEA come from? Look at the sign that reads, "U.S. Navy School Deep Sea Divers"


After T. Walker Lloyd and Bob Barth met, they developed a close friendship as both of them were DEEP-SEA Divers. One day, Bob Barth was complaining about how the crystals kept popping off the SEALAB divers Submariner watches during the decompression portion of their saturation diving experiments. T. Walker Lloyd asked Bob why this was occurring, and Bob Barth told him it had to do with helium building up in the Rolex Submariner and not being able to escape. T. Walker asked Bob Barth to put together a detailed analysis on paper, and mentioned he would deliver it to the CEO of Rolex at the time. 

T. Walker Lloyd told me he was shocked when Bob Barth delivered the phone book sized analysis. T. Walker said, he had no idea that Bob Barth was so scientifically adept. T. Walker also told me he thought the document was too complicated for a non DEEP-SEA diver to understand, so he simplified it and presented it to then Rolex CEO, André Heiniger who is pictured below in a photo from 1963, just after he became CEO of Rolex.


André Hiniger was so blown away with T. Walker's synopsis of Bob Barth's documentation, he called the President of Rolex USA, Rene Denton an told him to find T. Walker Lloyd and hire him immediately as an Oceanographic Consultant for Rolex, which he did. Rolex worked with T. Walker Lloyd and Bob Barth to furnish the SEALAB team with watches with the Helium Release valve Bob Barth proposed. As a result, the SEA-DWLLER was born, and the U.S. Navy SEALAB Aquanauts were the first to test these prototype SEA-DWELLER watches. The photo shows one of the first Rolex SEA-DWELLER prototypes. This model is known as a Single Red SEA-DWELLER [Reference 1665], and they are super rare, and worth more than a half a million dollars today. 


This ultra-rare early Rolex SEA-DWLLER has a bunch of unique features including the fact that under the Rolex logo on the dial it says "OYSTER PERPETUAL DATE". In other words, the word "DATE" has font that is larger. Also, notice that under the red "SEA-DWELLER" dial designation, it says "SUBMARINER 500 -1650FT". This designation make it very unusual. Special thanks to my good pal, Eric Ku from 10PastTen for sharing this very rare photo.




PAPA TOPSIDE

The U.S. SEALAB program was the brainchild of Dr. Bond who is pictured below wearing a bathrobe, standing next to his right hand man, Captain Walter 'Walt" Mazzone. I spent many hours interviewing Walt Mazzone, who before had been a submarine Captain during World War II. I became close with Walt and we spend many hours talking about SEALAB, Rolex and life in general. I recorded my conversations with him, and perhaps one day I will publish them as a podcast. 

Walt and I planned to get together in person for me to interview him in front of the camera but time ran out. He was 95 years old, and a few months before I was supposed to interview him, the old boy passed away, which shocked me!!! I am so bummed out that I did not get a chance to interview him on camera, but at least I got to enjoy the the pleasure of his stories. He was an extremely smart, wise man with an extremely kind soul to match. He even offered to give me his single red Rolex as a gift, which I refused to accept, as all I wanted from him was his friendship.



"What is a scientist after all? It is a curious man looking through a keyhole, the keyhole of nature, trying to know what's going on." –Jacques-Yves Cousteau 


The photo below was taken in 1968, and it shows U.S. Navy Doctor George Bond being interviewed with his close associate, Captain Jacques-Yves Coustea, who is the greatest explorer in history. In the interview they were discussing U.S. Navy SEALAB III.



Dr. George Bond first met Jacques Cousteau in the mid 1950s at the Boston SEA-ROVERS, and told him about how he had an idea to build underwater habitats for men to dwell in on the ocean floor. Cousteau told Bond it was a brilliant idea. Then Bond told Cousteau he tried to get the U.S. Congress to fund his SEALAB idea, but they thought it would be a wast of money. Then Bond told Cousteau, that he thought he should do the same thing. Jacques responded by saying, I don't have the kind of money to build underwater habitats and man them. Bond told Cousteau he should try to raise the money to do so, and after Cousteau thought about it he agreed. He ended up raising the money from the French government and other parties and began Project Conshelf.

Dr. Bond was a U.S. Navy scientist who, in the 1950s came up with the concept of saturation diving as a way to increase the duration of untethered deep sea dives. Dr. Bond was responsible for the discovering that after 24 hours the human body would get saturated with atmospheric gases, thus no additional time to decompress would be necessary. This allowed saturation divers work and live underwater for a sustained period of time that last for days, weeks or even months. This could be done with having to make single dives that lasted for a short duration. 





Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Project Conshelf
From Submariner to SEA-DWELLER



In September 1962, Jacques Cousteau immersed his Calypso crew into their most ambitious adventure to date known as the Conshelf Project. The Conshelf project was the brainchild of a U.S. Navy Medical Corps., Captain named Dr. George Bond. Dr. Bond conceived a new method of diving known as the "saturation method" which became know as "saturation diving."


Saturation diving created an underwater habitat where the divers could live in an underwater house/structure/habitat so they could work on the sea floor, without having to decompress by coming up to the ocean's surface after each dive.

Dr. Bond submitted his plan to build this underwater habitat for saturated divers to the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Navy initially rejected the idea–so Dr. Bond submitted his idea to Jacques Cousteau and his Calypso diving team–and after careful evaluation Cousteau decided to undertake the project.



Conshelf I

Conshelf I [September 1962] Location: Frioul Island, Marseille, France

Conshelf I got underway in September of 1962, and according to Jacques Cousteau, the objective was "Two men living for one week in a small building at a depth of 37 feet and working several hours a day at 65 feet." The Conshelf I structure was essentially a huge drum about the size of an industrial shipping container that was ballasted with an open hatch for the divers to enter and exit the underwater house.

In the photo below we see Conshelf I's barrel shaped habitat being tested for leakage before being submerged for the experiment. I may be wrong, but I think I recognize fellow DEEP-SEA Submariner, Jacques Piccard up on the top deck, leaning back, in the white shirt with dark slacks filming with a camera in his hand. 

Jacques Coustea previously worked with Jacques Piccard on the Bathyscaphe Project, and would work with Piccard again in 1964 on a new floating laboratory nicknamed "Mysterious Island" and again in 1965 from April 13 to May 10 on a geophysical and acoustical mission along the south coast of France. 

It is kind of shocking we have never seen a photo of the two Jacques together, but this may be the first one. Cousteau, of course, is located in the bottom right hand corner of the photo on the deck of the Calypso.


The First SEA-DWELLER's In History

Albert Falco and Claude Wesly of the Calypso diving team (pictured below wearing red caps) swam into history when they became the first "Oceanauts [French]" or "Aquanauts [American]" or "SEA-DWELLERS [ROLEX]" to live or "DWELL" under the sea. Also in the photo below we see Jacques Cousteau visiting with Falco and Wesly inside the Conshelf I habitat.



As I mentioned earlier, Albert Falco was Jacques Cousteau's lead diver and right-hand-man. The photo of Falco below was taken 7 years earlier on the deck of the Calypso in 1955 during the filming of The Silent World.



Conshelf II

The Conshelf I project was extremely successful and Cousteau went directly on to the much more ambitious Conshelf II Project. Conshelf II explored the effects of a much longer duration stay living under the sea–for a month. Conshelf II also explored the effects of a week-long stay at 82 feet in a habitat filled with an oxygen-helium mixture with the inhabitant divers leaving the habitat to do daily work below 160 feet. 


Conshelf II [June 1963] Location: Shab Rumi, Sudan, Red Sea

The photo below is of "The Starfish House" floating in the water on the right side of the photo, which was the primary structure of Conshelf II complex. The big circular structure on the left is the garage for the diving saucer which is being assembled for submersion. (Notice in the water color illustration above that the diving saucer located in the bottom right hand side of the image has left the garage and is headed for much deeper water). The Calypso diving team that lived aboard Conshelf II really were dwelling in the sea or SEA-DWELLERS.


Shab Rumi, located in the Red Sea, off the coast of Sudan was intentionally chosen since it was so far away from the location of Conshelf I. This was proof of concept that a huge industrial undertaking like this could be executed in a far-away, remote area.

In the photo below, a Calypso Cousteau diver looks in a window on the Conshelf II Starfish house.


In the photo below, two of the Cousteau Conshelf II divers relax over a game of chess in the Starfish house and enjoy a cigarette.





Conshelf III

In 1965 Calypso undertook its most ambitious and last Conshelf project named Conshelf III which was a spherical structure designed to house six Cousteau team divers including Jacques Cousteau's son Philippe.

Conshelf III [1965] Location: Cape Ferrat, Off the coast of Villefranche

The photo below is of three of Cousteau's Conshelf III divers checking in their equipment after a daily work dive at close to 400 feet.






The SEALAB Story


The SEALAB story is a very deep story (pun intended :-) In the photo below we see SEALAB Aquanaut, Scott Carpenter wearing his prototype Rolex SEA-DWELLER, as he is interview with his beautiful wife, Rene Carpenter.


If you really want to learn more about this amazing story, I highly recommend reading my 18 Chapter Series titled "The Complete History Of The Rolex Submariner & SEA-DWELLER: Rolex's Conquest Of The Ocean.

If you want a simple overview, hop in the Rolex Time Machine by checking out the official SEALAB videos below:



I would like to offer special thanks to Ben Hellwarth who it the author of the book SEALAB, which I highly recommend reading if you want to learn more about the U.S. Navy SEALAB Program. 







Operation Tektite

After the U.S. Navy had completed Operation SEALAB, Rolex continued to test SEA-DWELLER Prototypes with The U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research Operation Tektite, which had an underwater habitat  in Great Lameshur Bay, in The Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands. The Tektite habitat was built by the Space Division at General Electric at the Valley Forge Space Technology Center located in King Of Prussia, in Pennsylvania. Tektite I was a mission with four aquanauts, and it began on February 15, 1969 and ran until April 15, 1969.


Ian Koblick was one of the aquanauts on Tektite I who wore a prototype Rolex Single Red SEA-DWELLER that was discovered by fellow Rolex fanatic, Philip Stahl who publishes The Rolex Passion Report. Ian Koblick is pictured above and below wearing his Rolex Single Red SEA-DWELLER prototype [Reference 1665].


Ian Koblick's prototype 1967 Rolex Single Red SEA-DWELLER that he wore during Project Tektite I is pictured below in a recent photo.


In the photo below we see Ian Koblick pictured on the left, talking with an agent from the United States Ministry Of Interior. Pictured on the right is Richard A. Waller who is wearing his prototype Single Red Rolex SEA-DWELLER prototype.




The First Female Aquanauts

Tektite II was a joint venture between The United States Department Of The Interior, and NASA which was an all-female mission that consisted of the five female aquanauts pictured below.


Rolex Ambassador and Tektite II Aquanaut Dr. Silvia Earle is pictured above on the far left, as well as being pictured below entering the Tektite habitat. Divers on Tektite I & II wore and tested prototype Rolex Single Red SEA-DWELLER watches.






SEA-DWELLER Legacy

So if the Rolex SEA-DWELLER was developed and tested by The U.S. Navy SEALAB and Operation Tektite, who ended up being the ultimate beneficiary of the SEA-DWELLER? A French company named COMEX. I interviewed COMEX's charismatic founder Henri-Germain Delauze back in 2009, just before he passed away. During our interviews I mentioned to him that it was ironic that the COMEX ROLEX Submariner and SEA-DWELLER watches were so popular among vintage Rolex collects, and that it was ironic the there was not one photo of him wearing his trademark COMEX ROLEX, where you could see the COMEX logo on the watch. I asked him if he would pose for some exclusive photos for Jake's Rolex World, and he obliged as seen in the two photos below.



If you want to learn much more about COMEX I highly recommend checking out my story named, "Henri-Germain Delauze & COMEX".











The Complete History Of
The Rolex Submariner & SEA-DWELLER

Rolex's Conquest Of The Ocean

Table Of Contents







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