Welcome to the second installment of our in-depth look at the history of the Rolex Sea-Dweller. If you haven’t yet, we strongly encourage you to read the first chapter of the series where we cover the Double Red Sea-Dweller before you begin this article. If you’re already caught up with that one, then let’s get on with our look at the follow-up Sea-Dweller “Great White”.
Following the ten-year production of the Double Red Sea-Dweller from 1967, the replica Rolex introduced a new Sea-Dweller in 1977. The most notable difference was the replacing of the characteristic red text on the dial with white writing. Not only is the “SEA-DWELLER” label no longer in crimson, there’s no “SUBMARINER 2000” designation either. To begin with, the all-white font is the reason that this particular Sea-Dweller ref. 1665 picked up the “Great White” nickname. And secondly, the dropping of the “Submariner” label is a clear indication from Rolex that the Sea-Dweller is a model that will branch out on its own rather than just existing as a modified (and glorified) Submariner.
Actually, the Sea-Dweller “Great White” did set the tone for future models since the all-white text continued, as did the omission of the Submariner tag.
Besides, worth mentioning is the modification of the “ROLEX” engraving on the caseback on the newer watch. While the Double Red Sea-Dweller had the Rolex name engraved straight across, the Great White had it curve along with the periphery of the caseback fluting.
In regards to similarities to the Double Red Sea Dweller, the Great White kept the same Caliber 1575, the super domed crystal, the lack of Cyclops lens, and of course, the Helium Escape Valve (HEV). Although the Sea “Great White” was in production for less than five years, there are many dial variations to speak of.
It’s interesting to note that Rolex continued manufacturing the Sea-Dweller watch “Great White” until the early 1980s even when the new Sea-Dweller model was introduced in 1978. The two Sea-Dweller models were available alongside each other for a few years.