It’s rare to find a watch that is universally desirable and pricey yet still common. Such is the case with the Rolex “Double Red” Sea Dweller, a proper tool watch, investment, and status symbol. Even more unusual, this watch comes from the 1970’s, the era of the collapse of the Swiss watch industry and many truly horrible designs. Yet it is so iconic, so sought-after, and so recognizable that prices continue to vault upwards!
See DoubleRedSeaDweller.com as a reference!
Not all Double Red Sea Dwellers are equal. Collectors prize the early examples more than the later and more plentiful variants. Rarest of all are the earliest run, built for French diving firm COMEX, and those with “pat. Pend” marked on the case back. After this come the Mark II’s, with their somewhat odd printing, and that’s what we have here.
The Mark II, produced in 1971 and early 1972, is one of the quintessential Double Red Sea Dwellers. It’s rare and notable (thanks to the offset “Sea Dweller” and “Submariner” text and slightly odd crown) yet late enough in production to retain the bright red markings that give its name. Most have seen use and include signs of wear – scratches and scars of life.
This example has a lovely aged “chocolate” dial, making it more desirable than the stabilized black of later models, though it was produced late enough to have the “Rolex Patent” case back and “dots” crown. The lume and dial are nicely aged. This example also has a newer bracelet; though it’s an acceptable 93150 it would be better with the original 9315.
Inside is the Rolex calibre 1575, a proven and sorted automatic. You’ll note that this watch says “1570” on the bridge – that’s because the 1575 is just a 1570 with a date mechanism!
Other signs of provenance include the 35xxxxx serial number (appropriate for a late-build Mark II), the last three digits of which are engraved in the case back. Also in the case back is “1/72”, indicating a build date in the first quarter of 1972. All this lines up, suggesting that this watch is legitimate.
Also suggesting legitimacy is the seller, HQ Milton. They’re well-respected in Rolex circles. They have this particular 1972 Rolex Double Red Sea Dweller Mark II listed at a whopping $45,000, and it’s likely worth near that to a picky collector!
If that’s too rich, head over to Sheartime for a similar 1972 Rolex Double Red Sea Dweller Mark II for $34,500. It’s got a faded gray dial rather than chocolate, but we like the 9315 bracelet better.