Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Real Single Red SEA-DWELLER...

The Real Single Red
[Rolex Reference 1665. Circa 1967]

We are in for a very special treat today!!! My great pal, Eric Ku is one of the top vintage Rolex dealers on Earth and he sent in these images of his ULTRA-RARE Single RED SEA-LAB Rolex SEA-DWELLER.

This watch was developed by Rolex with the United States NAVY SEA-LAB program and the Single Red SEA-DWELLER designation only appeared on the first production prototypes of this watch. How rare is the original Single Red? To date there are only 5 known examples and this is one of them and they are worth around $250,000.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the original Single Red is that under the Single Red SEA-DWELLER designation it says SUBMARINER 500M-1650FT. Most SEA-DWELLERS have the 2000FT designation rating. Also note, on the dial the second text line under "ROLEX" the word "DATE" is much larger than "OYSTER PERPETUAL."

To make a long story short, Rolex developed the helium escape valve for the U.S. NAVY SEA-LAB Saturated Divers who during decompression experienced their Submariner crystals shooting out of their Rolex Submariner watches.

To learn about how and why Rolex developed the helium release valve on the SEA-DWELLER you can learn first-hand from reading the article and listening to the podcast I did with T. Walker Lloyd who was a famous deep sea diver and executive with Rolex for a quarter century by clicking here.

If you want to learn more about the development of the SEA-DWELLER and how Rolex worked with COMEX & SEA-LAB you can read the Scott Carpenter story I wrote (it is fascinating) along with the podcast I did with Scott Carpenter. You can find them both by clicking here.

The Single Red SEA-LAB SEA DWELLER was produced with and without the helium release valve and this watch has one. If you want to see another version of this watch without the helium release valve you can see the one owned by Robert Palmer Bradley in John Goldberger's book 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by clicking here.

I would like to thank Eric Ku for sharing this magnificent piece of Rolex history with us and you can always find Eric by visiting his website at