Tropical Mk2 1665 Rolex ‘Double Red’ Sea-Dweller

I’ve heard it said that the movement is the heart of a watch, the case its body, and the dial its soul. This analogy is tenuous at best, a bit like when you hear food critics start talking about the emotion contained within an entrée. That’s just a dinner and this is just a watch, this has always been my view. However, when dials start to look like this, even I’m prone to getting a bit romantic. Perhaps the soul of a watch is not in its dial, but in how its life on wrist has shaped its appearance. Whatever the case, this tropical DRSD has a definite character.


In 1665 dials, the very first were single reds. There are thought to be 11 or 12 of these, given to professional divers chosen by T. Walker Lloyd, an Oceanographic Consultant of Rolex, for testing or as awards following US Navy Sealab expeditions. After these were the DRSD, an early model with two coveted lines of red text in production from 1967-1977. After both came the ‘Great White’ 1665 with all white text. Of that evolution, it is the Mk2 DRSD which has a tendency to turn chocolate. Mk2 dials started in 1968, and were also the first to have a caseback displaying ‘Rolex Patent Oyster Gas Escape Valve’ after the Mk1 ‘Patent Pending’ backs.

The dial was covered in a composition of lacquer that reacted aggressively with UV light. To spot the Mk2, look at the text ‘SUBMARINER 2000’, which is slightly smaller here than the ‘SEA-DWELLER’ font above. Additionally, the coronet is printed in a slightly blurry way on this lacquer, leading some to call the Mk2 smudge crown. Both of these ‘faults’ were corrected by the Mk3 dial, leading these Mk2s to insane levels of collectability. Moreover, these came with what is known as the thin case, a proportion more svelte than the latter Mk3. Despite once being a tool of purpose, the 1665 is now lore and a collectors’ darling with comparable tropical Mk2 dials auctioning regularly above 100K USD. They aren’t a value, but they are damn attractive.


This is a very honest and very lovely watch in all respects I can observe. The case is quite full with a solid bevel, but has seen a light polish. This is normal and it’s not even slightly egregious. All tritium is original and cream. The dial is magnificent, no further exposition required. Its bezel is a Mk3 with fat font, fully ghosted. The whole thing is stunning, and it comes on a 9315 sans box/papers from a well-regarded retailer.

Find this 1665 here from Wrist Icons for 110000 EUR.

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