In 1905, German-born Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis set up a company in London that imported Swiss movements which are installed in British cases and sold to jewellers who put their names on the dials. Recognising the potential for their brand, Wilsdorf created the brand name Rolex in 1908. In 1910, a Rolex became the first wristwatch to carry the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, awarded by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne, Switzerland. Demand for Rolex watches rose swiftly, and British taxes on the Swiss movements Rolex used prompted Wilsdorf to move the business to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1919. With production costs lowered, Wilsdorf quickly set out to solve the age-old problem of moisture and dust entering a watch case and damaging the movement. The Rolex watchmakers came up with a fully sealed watch case, which Wilsdorf named the Oyster, and released to an appreciative audience in 1926. In 1931, Rolex introduced the first automatic winding wristwatch, giving it the legendary name Oyster Perpetual. In 1945, they released Datejust. The Datejust was the first watch to have the date jump instantaneously at midnight. The 1950s saw a whole lot of releases such as the Air-King (1958), the Explorer (1953), the Submariner (1953), the GMT Master (1955), the Day-Date (1956), the electromagnetic field resistant Milgauss (1956), the Lady-Datejust (1957) and the first Deep Sea model (1960). Wilsdorf’s death in 1960, saw ownership of Rolex S.A. (a collection of sub-companies) passed to the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation which was founded by Wilsdorf in 1945, the mission of which is simply to sustain Rolex S.A. indefinitely.
In 1967 Rolex introduced the Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665, the first watch with a helium escape valve. Helium is used in saturation diving. Particles of Helium build up in the case during extended dive sessions. Divers found that the Submariner had a tendency when they were in the decompression chamber to pop the plexiglass. To solve this issue, a Helium escape valve was added to the side of the Sea-Dweller case. Introducing a Helium escape valve, the development of which was a one-way valve aided by Robert A. Barth, a US Navy diver who pioneered saturation diving during the US Navy Genesis and SEALAB missions. Rolex made roughly 100 pieces at that time; their design was similar to the Submariner ref. 5514 COMEX. The Ref. 1665 Double Red (due to the two lines of Red Text on the dial) ran from 1967-1977. It was replaced by the Ref. 1665 “Great White” (the Red Text was replaced by White Text) ran from 1977 until 1983. The Ref. 16660 “Triple Six” was one of the first Rolex to have a sapphire crystal which helped to increase its water resistance from 2000ft/610m to 4000ft/1220m. The Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 replaced the Ref. 16660 in 1988 until 2008.
The reference number 116660 was launched at Baselworld in 2008 at the time it was the most water-resistant watch in production. To achieve its depth rating, the Sea-Dweller deepsea is tested to an incredible depth of 4,875 meters (15,994 ft) 25% safety reserve required by the ISO 6425 divers' watches standard. Our 2014 Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea 116660 has a 43mm stainless steel Oyster case. The polished and brushed surfaces transition with crisp edges. A lug to lug length of 52mm and a case thickness of 17.5mm give the watch a very impressive wrist presence. The need for such dimensions is necessary for the watch to achieve its incredible water resistance. On the right side is a Triplock screw-down crown, a system introduced on the Sea-Dweller in 1970, it consists of three sealed zones, two gaskets within the tube, and a third gasket under the winding crown. On the left side, you find the Helium escape valve flush with the case, it automatically releases the Helium when it reaches a critical point. The stainless steel unidirectional bezel has a Ceramic 60-minute dive insert. A domed sapphire crystal is 5.5mm thick, enabling it to descend to those incredible depths. An outer ring surrounded by “Original Gas Escape Valve “ “Ring Lock System”. A matte black dial with Chromalight coated discs, and baton indices mark the hours. Chromalight was debuted on this watch, a Rolex proprietary compound that gives off a blue glow in the dark. At 3 o’clock a date window, you’ll notice that there are no cyclops, the reason being that extra thick crystal. Mercedes' hands are complemented by a second hand with a lollipop counterweight coated in Chromalight. On the reverse, a coin-edged case back. Inside an Automatic Rolex Cal. 3135, 31 jewels, 28,800 beats per hour. COSC Chronometer Certified workhorse. It is fitted with a Parachrom hairspring designed by Rolex; it offers greater resistance to shocks and to temperature variations. The watch comes fitted on its original Rolex 21mm solid end link 904L stainless steel Oyster bracelet with OysterLock safety clasp and glide-lock extension system which allows the watch to be worn over a divers suit, or be adjusted on the fly during the day. The watch comes with its Rolex presentation box and papers.