Philippe Cousteau’s Rolex

Philippe Cousteau’s Rolex

Philippe Cousteau

There are “important” watches and there are historically significant watches. These days, “Important” seems to be a buzz word for “expensive” while “historically significant,” admittedly open to some debate on what fits in the category, pretty much stands on its own.

Philippe Cousteau’s Sea-Dweller is perhaps both. Cousteau, of course, was the son of famed environmental and oceanographic pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Jacques-Yves’ second son, to be exact, who died tragically in the crash of a PBY Catalina flying boat in 1979 at age 38. Those of us of a certain age remember Jacques Cousteau’s narration of Philippe’s exploits as a young man in many an episode of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

Philippe Cousteau Dive

All of that provides compelling back story of this particular watch, which sold at auction at Antiquorum in New York in September 2014 (Lot 199). The pre-auction estimate had been $100,000 – $150,000. When the gavel fell, the price on the board was $183,750 (which included the buyer’s premium).

Even without the ownership provenance, this particular Sea-Dweller is an extremely interesting piece. The watch is an early ref. 1665, serial number 1,60x,xxx, made in 1967 as an early offshoot of the Submariner line. The watch came equipped with a riveted Oyster bracelet and a double red Mark I dial. “Double red,” for the uninitiated, means the dial reads SEA-DWELLER SUBMARINER 2000 on two lines (where ‘double’ comes from) in red letters. Thus, the nick name for the watch, the Double Red Sea-Dweller, or DRSD.

In those early days of the Sea-Dweller, a major anatomical difference between it and the Submariner was the helium escape valve. This feature, a one-way pressure relieve valve, located on the side of the case at nine o’clock, allowed the escape of helium gas, which would have built up inside the watch during extended stays in a pressurized under-water habitat. Watches without such a feature tended to fail explosively upon reaching the surface and normal atmospheric pressures.

Sea dweller Submariner watch

This particular watch was in highly original condition at the time of the sale. Close inspection of the photo (click on it to enlarge it) shows a heavily scratched plastic crystal and original hands that have seen better days. The bracelet is the riveted Oyster which vintage Rolex aficionados love to hate (or hate to love, depending on their mood). The red lettering on the dial is faded, and the Tritium lume is “weathered” to a dull brown that makes those same aficionados go weak in the knees.

Now, we don’t mean to tease you with a watch that sold at auction fifteen months ago. But we here at Everest Bands think this is an outstanding example of a watch from the days when men were men and watches were tools, an era we love.

The post Philippe Cousteau’s Rolex appeared first on Bezel & Barrel.

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