We have previously written about the Rolex Ref. 5510. Today, we look at another iconic and highly collectable Rolex, the Double Red Sea-Dweller. The Reference 1655, known as the “DRSD” by Rolex fans, commenced production in the late 1960s. Very much a tool watch, it was the first Sea-Dweller to be able to reach a depth of 2000ft or 610m.
With a Cal.1575 movement, the DRSD were produced between1967-1977. This particular example is a Mark III dial with a 351xxxx serial, which dates it to around the first quarter of 1972 (the production date also stamped on inside the case back: I 72).
The breakdown of serial number is as follows:
Mark I Dial, 1.6-2.2 mil
Mark II Dial, 1.6-3.5 mil
Mark III Dial, 2.6-3.5 to 4.0 mil
Mark IV Dial, 3.0-5.2 mil
There are two main cases associated with the DRSD. A thin case, similar to that of the Submariner, usually appears for those with a 1.6 mil to 2.2 mil serial number, and a thicker case for the others.
Every Double Red has its individual serial number engraved inside the case back, which co-ordinates to its case serial number. The last 3 digits of the watch’s serial numbers were engraved on inside the case back for DRSDs Mk 1 up to Mk 3 (which is up to circa 1974). After that, Rolex decided to engrave the entire 7 digit serial number on Double Reds from Mark IV until the end of their production in 1977.
Mark I to Mark IV were all the standard original tritium dials used for DRSDs. Starting from Mark V, up to Mark VII, the tritium was replaced by luminova material.
Some of the points of note in the Ref. 1665, well-known to Rolex aficionados but an enigma to the rest of us, include the following:
1. The “2000ft = 610m” is in small font, the first ‘R’ in ‘SUBMARINER’
2. The first ‘R’ in the word “SUBMARINER” is under the hyphen. In the "clear" Rolex Crown dial the ‘A’ in the word “SUBMARINER” is under the hyphen.
3. In the "Smudge" Rolex dial the ‘W’ in “DWELLER” will always be touching the ‘D’, where as in the MK111 version there will be a slight space. The ‘D’ in lines up with the ‘R’ in “SUBMARINER”. In the Mark II dial, the ‘D’ “SEA-DWELLER” lines up with ‘I’ in “SUBMARINER”. Compared to the dial in version II, the print is also similar, the depth markings are spaced differently, and the coronet is also different.
4. Sixes on the depth rating are so called 'open 6' for the Mark I to Mark III dials, after which Rolex changed to 'close 6' for Mark IV to Mark VII. Additionally, the fonts for the depth rating were written in standard small font ‘ft’ and ‘m’ from Mark I to Mark IV, thereafter replaced by italic letter with long tailed ‘ft’ and ‘m’.
As you can tell, the owner of this Ref.1665 prefers to wear his on a NATO style strap rather than the original bracelet (yet another area of esoteria). This DRSD, although a very desirable Rolex, is no safe queen, but a much-loved and worn tool watch.