I’m not going saturation diving this weekend, you likely are not either. And yet, I slightly like knowing that I could if I wanted to. This, I know, is absurd—a bit like wearing a snorkel all year just because you might go the Bahamas in March. But if going for drinks while wearing 1665 is a crime, I am ready to do time. Its charm is multifactorial: the fact that is (or was) a tool built fundamentally to accomplish a purpose, material innovation of the HEV, rarity of the double dial and what that represents, and the huge acrylic crystal dome without cyclops. But you knew all that already.
This reference gained fame well before Comex for being used in US Navy Sealab expeditions, experiments meant to test the health effects of underwater isolation. Sealab divers switched from Subs to Sea Dwellers because the Sub’s crystals kept popping off on ascent. Innovation in steps, not bounds, for Rolex. This was accomplished through a very thick plexi crystal, thicker 39mm steel case, and helium escape valve which allowed helium to exit the case during decompression and prevents the plexi from popping up under the pressure. That HEV was pioneered in a series of Comex 5513/4 Subs and early Sea-Dwellers at about the same time, this watch is the commercial product which resulted.
The first were single red dials, given to professional divers chosen by T. Walker Lloyd, an Oceanographic Consultant of Rolex, for testing or as awards. There are thought to be 11 or 12 of these. Following these were the DRSD, an early model with two coveted lines of red text in production from 1967-1977. These both preceeded the ‘Great White’ 1665 with all white text. This Mk4 dial was the last produced before the Great White took over. If not a tool of purpose in 2022, it is certainly still an object of desire.
This example sports a case with sharp bevels. Its dial and bezel display light signs of wear with light cream tritium and slightly greyed ghosting. Its two red lines and all printing are highly legible still. It comes from a well-regarded Swiss retailer.
Find this Double Red 1665 here from Herschmann for 64900 CHF.