Antiquorum - Auctioneers since 1974 Auction Watch

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rare Rolex Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665 Previously Owned by Famed Filmmaker and Oceanographer Philippe Cousteau Offered in Antiquorum Auction

New York, September 16, 2014 -- Antiquorum Auctioneers, the world’s premier watch auctioneers, is looking forward to its fall auction of “Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces” to be held on September 30th at the Hoyt Building in New York. Amongst the exceptional collection offered is one of the earliest known Rolex Ref. 1665 Sea-Dweller’s ever recorded that formerly belonged to famed filmmaker and oceanographer Philippe Cousteau (Jacques Cousteau’s son).

The Rolex Sea-Dweller is one of the most important diving watches designed in the second half of the 20th century. The collaboration with diving professionals and government agencies guided Rolex to introduce the first-ever use of the helium gas escape valve in a wristwatch. This revolutionary design enabled the watch to have the capability to withstand great underwater pressure while maintaining the functionality and integrity of timekeeping. During its development, the Ref. 1665 Sea-Dweller went through several revisions and iterations in order to perfect the design as the best diving watch, allowing many of the deepest diving missions.  As an iconic model, the Sea-Dweller has become highly collectible; the most coveted being the very earliest examples.

The example offered in Antiquorum’s September auction bears one of the earliest serial numbers (1'602'920) of this reference ever recorded. This places the watch in the era of Single Red Sea-Dwellers, of which only six are known to exist.

Evan Zimmermann, President & CEO of Antiquorum commented, “We are extremely proud to offer what is unarguably one of the most important Sea-Dweller’s ever to appear at auction. This represents a unique opportunity for collectors to acquire a truly historic timepiece with an extraordinary provenance.”

Not only is this watch extremely rare, but it also has the added cachet of an exceptional provenance. Philippe Cousteau developed a love of marine life early on, learning how to dive at the tender age of five. He soon began to travel the world with his legendary father Jacques Cousteau, known as one of the most celebrated oceanographers of all time; he co-developed the first underwater breathing apparatus in partnership with Acqualung and drew attention to the amazing world of underwater life in the movie “The Silent World” which won him the prestigious Palme D’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1956.

With an insatiable passion for the sea, Philippe Cousteau became the lead photographer on many of his father’s expeditions on the oceanographic research vessel the Calypso. He also produced numerous important documentaries about underwater life alongside his father in addition to his own television series on environmental issues. Sadly, his life was cut short in 1979 when a tragic plane accident occurred flying a Catalina near Lisbon.

After having worn the watch for 10 years, Philippe gifted it to Thomas Horton who was a close friend and collaborator of the Cousteau family. Andrew Horton, Thomas’ son, vividly recounts his early childhood memories about his father and the Cousteau family which can be read in a letter that accompanies this lot.

This exceptional timepiece is  an extremely rare, center seconds  stainless steel diver’s chronometer wristwatch with Double-Red Sea-Dweller logo, helium escape valve, date and stainless steel Rolex Oyster Fliplock bracelet.  Also accompanying the watch are 8 X 10 photos showing Philippe Cousteau wearing the watch, a book “Diving Companions” by Jacques Cousteau and Philippe Diole, a red “Cousteau Crew” shirt, a 14 X 11 photo of the sailing yacht and a 14 X 11 photo of Philippe Cousteau at sea.

Estimate: US$ 100,000 – 150,000