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There is a certain prestige that comes with owning a rare vintage Rolex dive watch. From the Submariner to the Sea-Dweller, the horological icon has helped shaped the future of fine watching, but come November 5, one lucky bidder will walk away with a piece of history. Auction house Phillips has confirmed a 1965 Rolex Deep Sea Special No. 35 will come under the hammer, with an estimated price tag of around AUD$3.5 million.

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Phillips

Offered as part of The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV, the Rolex Deep Sea Special has never before been publicly available for purchase. Considered a ‘grail’ watch to many collectors, the museum-quality piece is a stainless steel and gold ultra-deep dive wristwatch with centre seconds. But it’s not the hardware that makes this Rolex so special.

The 1965 Rolex Deep Sea Special No. 35 represents a key moment in the brand’s history. In response to the growing demand for waterproof watches in the 1950s, Rolex opted to revamp its Oyster case. Not content with simply making them waterproof, the Swiss icon set to work on crafting timepieces capable of withstanding the ocean’s most fierce pressures. Connecting with Professor Riccard, a renowned Swiss oceanographer and engineer, the brand developed a watch fitted with a unique case and domed crystal that could hold up against extreme pressure.

Phillips

After performing several tests, in 1960 Rolex did the unthinkable. Taking to the Mariana Trench, the new ‘Deep Sea Special’ prototype was submerged to over 10,000 metres below sea level, shattering long-held theories over what was truly possible in the world of watchmaking.

In the years that followed, Rolex produced a commemorative series, typified by the one currently up for auction in celebration of the achievement. According to Phillips, the timepiece is so rare, only five of its kind have been sold in the public
sphere, with other publicly known examples owned and displayed by storied institutions.

Phillips

“The DSS is the watch that defined what Rolex is today, it is the philosophy behind its creation that led Rolex to focus on tool watches in general and dive watches in particular,” Alexandre Ghotbi, Head of Watches, Continental Europe and Middle East said. “Without the Deep Sea Special there would be no Submariner or Sea Dweller as we know it. The DSS is a watch that was never available for public purchase and the arrival on the market of an example is a once in a decade event for collectors and watch aficionados to celebrate. We are humbled to have been entrusted with such an incredible piece of horological history.”

The Rolex Deep Sea Special No. 35 will be offered as part of Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: XIV from November 5 to 7. It has an estimated price of CHF 1,200,000 – 2,400,000 (AUD$1.7 million to $3.55 million).

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