The mythical Rolex Sea Dweller patent pending: a prestigious introduction

We are honoured to be with Mr. Umberto Scano that will introduce us to the first models of the mythical Rolex Sea Dweller Patent Pending. “In the second half of the 60s, with the spread of saturation diving, a need to create a specific watch arose. Especially since the helium present in the mixtures inside the hyperbaric chamber would leak into the watch and cause the glass to explode during the resurface of divers. To avoid this inconvenience, Rolex designed a valve to apply to the carrure, which would allow the gas to get out without causing any damage to the watch. On November 6th 1967 the Genevan company presented the request to patent the valve, and began the production of the first exemplars of 1665 which featured “gas escape valve patent pending” on the case back. Two types of case back exist with this writing. The first is extremely rare, with the inscription around the edge, it appears on the 1.6 serial number and is matched to the 500m dial. The second has the words arranged as on the “standard” case back. It can be found randomly on the 1.7 serial number (very few exemplars known) and always on the 2.11 2.12 and 2.24 serials. (Pictures are courtesy of our Antiquorum‘s friends )

Obviously, from a collector’s point of view, these Sea-dwellers are of considerable importance as they represent the first specimen of Rolex’s most professional reference. Consequently the market value of these watches is also high. The last patent pending with a 500m dial was last sold at Antiquorum for 409.000 CHF. And more than three years have passed since then… Decisively cheaper, but still very sought out for, are the other variations. More than 100.000€ for a 1665 patent pending with a mkI dial, a little less for a tropical mkII, and a minimum of 50/60thousand Euros for a black mkII. Finally, to complete the “patent pending” subject, we must not forget to mention that the same caption can also be found on the bracelet of these watches (7206 until half 1969 and 9315 after) but this relates to another suspended patent for the extension to wear the watch over the diving suit.”

This is an amazing example of Rolex Sea Dweller Patent Pending with beautiful chocolate brown MKII dial from

Author: Luca Balella