Dr. Joe MacInnis’ “SEALAB 3” Rolex Single Red Sea-Dweller – Vintage Panerai and other iconic timepieces under the loupe at Perezcope


As anticipated earlier this 12 months, one other traditionally necessary Rolex ‘Single Red’ Sea-Dweller surfaced unexpectedly from a notable determine of undersea exploration – Canadian doctor, writer and diver Dr. Joseph B. MacInnis. As so usually with this stuff, the “object of need” was hiding in plain sight. Jake from RolexJournal.com wrote quite a few articles on Dr. Joe’s accomplishments and the watch was pictured in lots of the principally low decision images however none of us ever thought it might be one of many tremendous elusive ‘Single Red’ Sea-Dwellers.

Dr. Joe’s watch brings the variety of identified items to a complete of 12. This article was not meant to be an in-depth story about Dr. Joe however slightly an up to date overview of all identified ‘Single Red’ Sea-Dwellers. However, Dr. Joe’s profession is “linked” to a personage of main significance for the event of saturation diving who’s value a better look. American inventor and multi-millionaire Edwin A. Link. To examine Dr. Joe and his accomplishments, I invite you to deal with your self with Jake’s fascinating write-up on Dr. Joe aptly named The outdated man & the Sea Dweller linked on the finish of this text.

Go on to the Single Red Sea-Dweller overview

“Experimental” Rolex

Without additional ado, right here it’s in its full glory. Dr. Joe’s “experimental” Rolex which accompanied him on numerous adventures since late 1968. Among different issues, the very first Sea-Dwellers are distinguished by their meters-first dials with a depth score of 500 m/1,650 ft versus the 2000 ft/610 m of later fashions.

Rolex Single Red Sea-Dweller, Ref. 1665, GEV, 1602912

The Sea-Dweller was initially conceived as Uber Submariner with greater than double the depth score of standard Submariner fashions (5512/5513). Since solely ‘Sea-Dweller’ is printed in crimson, the mannequin was dubbed ‘Single Red’ by collectors. Later and extra refined fashions, which grew to become out there to most of the people from late 1970 onwards, had each ‘Sea-Dweller’ and ‘Submariner 2000’ printed in crimson, therefore referred to as ‘Double Red’

Comparison Single Red vs. Double Red

The subsequent image exhibits what makes MacInnis’ watch distinctive, even amongst already particular items. The helium launch valve on the facet of the case which permits the watch to mechanically eliminate accrued helium throughout decompression from nice depths. Most identified ‘Single Red’ Sea-Dwellers shouldn’t have this characteristic.

Profile view of 1602912

Rolex used the extra common time period ‘Gas Escape Valve’ after studying from Dr. Ralph Brauer, a number one German-American hyperbaric researcher, that sooner or later not solely helium but additionally different gases (e.g. hydrogen) could be used for saturation diving. Please learn the next article to find out how Rolex’s helium launch valve took place.

Read extra: The Sea-Dweller Chronicles – Genesis of the decompressing watch

The following image exhibits the caseback of Dr. Joe’s watch with the necessary ‘Patent Pending’ designation. Rolex filed the patent software for the helium launch valve on November 6, 1967 however it was not till June 15, 1970 that the patent was granted.

Patent Pending caseback

Joe MacInnis was a Rolex model ambassador for a few years and he established an ideal relationship with Rolex Canada that most likely serviced his watch on quite a few events. Under regular circumstances, an outdated and not luminous ‘Single Red’ dial would have been changed throughout a service. The mere reality MacInnis’ watch someway retained its authentic dial is nothing in need of a miracle.

Ed Link and Ocean Systems Inc.

Dr. Joe MacInnis’s profession on this planet of deep sea diving started in 1964 when he grew to become medical director in Edwin Link’s Ocean Systems Inc., one of many first business saturation diving corporations. Ed Link was an American inventor and millionaire who made historical past in August 1962 after spending 8 hours respiration a helium/oxygen combination in a small submersible decompression chamber at a depth of 60 ft/18 m within the Mediterranean Sea, thus turning into the primary totally saturated human underwater.

Edwin Link and his submersible decompression chamber within the background, France 1962

At the time, Dr. George F. Bond, the precise inventor of saturation diving and important driving pressure behind the U.S. Navy SEALAB program, was mainly nonetheless conducting animal checks as a part of challenge Genesis. The Navy was extraordinarily cautious as to not put anybody in harms means, which is why this system was significantly slowed down. Ed Link realized about saturation diving on the Boston Sea Rovers, the place Dr. Bond – from 1957 onwards – continuously spoke about his theories and newest analysis findings.

In September 1962, one month after his personal dive, Link despatched Belgian diver Robert Sténuit in the identical decompression chamber all the way down to 200 ft/61 m. Sténuit spent 25 hours respiration helium/oxygen and have become the primary actual Aquanaut after leaving the capsule for a brief time frame.

Illustration of Robert Sténuit leaving the submersible decompression chamber, thus turning into the primary Aquanaut in September 1962

Ed Link understood the business worth of Dr. Bond’s concepts and went full steam forward. It would take one other month for the U.S. Navy to show human topics to a helium/oxygen environment in an onshore hyperbaric chamber (November 1962).

On April 10, 1963, the USS Thresher nuclear-powered assault submarine sank resulting from a malfunction beneath its crush depth of round 1,300 ft/400 m and imploded, killing all 129 folks aboard. Almost instantly, the U.S. Navy command assembled a gaggle of undersea consultants to develop salvage and rescue capabilities at nice depths. A key member of this commitee was Edwin Link. As a outcome, Dr. Bond’s saturation diving analysis acquired extra funding and a program named Man-in-the-Sea was established with the aim to increase the U.S. Navy’s diving operations to incorporate working from an undersea habitat.

USS Thresher at sea, July 1961

Jacques Cousteau was searching for methods to maintain divers underwater for so long as doable and naturally, saturation diving was of nice curiosity to him. During the Conshelf 2 experiment which passed off within the Red Sea in June 1963, two of Cousteau’s males spent a whole week in a helium/oxygen environment at a depth of 90 ft/27 m.

Conshelf 2 “Deep Cabin” at 90 ft/27 m

In early July 1964, Link put Sténuit and Jon Lindbergh, son of well-known pilot Charles Lindbergh, in 432 ft/130 m of water in an inflatable underwater habitat named SPID (Submersible, Portable, Inflatable Dwelling) the place the 2 divers spent 49 hours totally saturated in a helium/oxygen environment. Sténuit and Lindbergh’s record-breaking dive was Dr. Joe’s first assignement as diving physician in Ed Link’s workforce.

Popular Science journal from July 1963 with an illustration of Ed Link’s SPID habitat on the quilt

After this exceptional occasion, Ed Link and his enterprise companions based the underwater engineering firm Ocean Systems Inc. which might quickly turn into one of many largest of its type. Contracts from the U.S. Navy, Exxon and Shell virtually instantly began coming in.

On July 20, 1964, the U.S. Navy lowered their first underwater habitat named SEALAB 1 to a depth of 192 ft/59 m off the coast of Bermuda. Initially scheduled to remain at depth for 3 weeks, the 4 Aquanauts needed to be evacuated after 11 days resulting from an approaching tropical storm. SEALAB 1 was however an ideal success. One 12 months later the Navy launched SEALAB 2, the place a complete of 28 Aquanauts, divided into three groups, spent 15 to 30 days at 205 ft/62 m. SEALAB 2 proved that males may accomplish a variety of salvage and undersea development duties at depth.

Mothership SS Berkone with SEALAB 2 habitat floating within the water, August 1965

Ed Link continued pushing the envelope. Together with John Perry of Perry Submarine Builders, Link designed and constructed a small submersible named Deep Diver from which divers may “lock-out” at nice depths. In 1968, two divers exited the vessel at record-breaking 700 ft/213 m of water. Dr. Joe MacInnis supervised this dive from the ahead chamber of the submarine.

Perry-Link Deep Diver “lock-out” submersible

Around the identical time, the U.S. Navy contracted Ocean Systems Inc. for Dr. Joe’s companies as extra medical help was wanted for the upcoming SEALAB 3 experiment which was to happen in October 1968 at a frightening depth of 610 ft/185 m. In September 1968, MacInnis moved to San Francisco to begin working with the Navy. To turn into accustomed to everything of this system, Dr. Bond requested him practice with the Aquanauts with the potential for getting on one of many groups if he certified. It was round this time that a minimum of 4 folks concerned with SEALAB 3 got every an experimental Rolex ‘Single Red’ Sea-Dweller with helium launch valve. Bob Barth, Philippe Cousteau (son of Jacques Cousteau), Joe MacInnis and a diver who needs to stay nameless.

SEALAB 3 was initially scheduled for late 1967 however postponed to October 1968 resulting from insufficient supplies used for the decompression chambers. In late October 1968, it was found that a few of the gaskets used for the Personnel Transfer Capsule (PTC), the pressurized elevator which might convey the divers from the Deck Decompression Chamber (DDC) aboard the diving help vessel Elk River to the underwater habitat and again, had been less than the duty. One months later, the one operational PTC was unintentionally flooded throughout an unmanned check dive. This set the challenge again for one more two months. In late November 1968, MacInnis certified as Aquanaut however didn’t make it on one of many groups. When the habitat was lastly lowered to its place at 610 ft/185 m off San Clemente island in February 1969, MacInnis was not current. He was giving a speech in honour of Edwin Link on the Smithonian in Washington DC. Once on the underside, the habitat began leaking valuable helium gasoline.

Illustration of SEALAB 3 with Ed Link’s ‘Deep Diver’ submersible within the upper-left nook

Four males had been pressurized to backside strain in a matter of minutes and despatched down so as to stop the habitat from flooding. The 4 males had been Bob Barth, Berry Cannon, John Reaves and Richard Blackburn. A primary try at opening the hatch of the habitat failed and the lads had been introduced again to the Deck Decompression Chamber (DDC). During a second try a number of hours later, Berry Cannon died because of a dysfunctional rebreather. The subsequent day, MacInnis returned to the scene solely to witness that SEALAB 3 had been deserted. After this episode, Dr. Joe left Ocean Systems Inc. and returned to Canada the place he constructed a small underwater habitat named Sublimnos which was positioned on the ground of Georgian Bay (Lake Huron) in Ontario, Canada. His return to Canada opened a brand new chapter of Joe MacInnis’ profession.

The Rolex ‘Single Red’ Sea-Dweller accompanied him ever since. Dr. Joe swam beneath the arctic ice with the watch, it was on his wrist when he descended to the wreck of the Titanic, not as soon as however twice, and in 2007, the timepiece created to overcome interior house was shot into outer house aboard the house shuttle Endeavour. Canadian astronaut Dr. Dave Williams, a very good good friend of MacInnis, gave it “a experience” to the International Space Station.

Single Red Sea-Dweller in zero gravity contained in the Space Shuttle Endeavour (Photo: Dave Williams)

Dr. Dave Williams recounted this occasion in an episode of ‘Talking Watches’ from July 2019 which I completely suggest to observe in its entirety.

Dr. Joe’s watch should be probably the most travelled timepieces within the historical past of horology.

Overview ‘Single Red’ Sea-Dwellers

The following overview exhibits all ‘Single Red’ Sea-Dwellers which have surfaced thus far. Of the 12 items identified items, 5 have a helium launch valve. Philippe Cousteau’s watch (04) misplaced its authentic dial between October 1968 and October 1972, most likely resulting from a service. Klick the image to zoom in.

To take a better take a look at every ‘Single Red’ Sea-Dweller that surfaced thus far, click on the hyperlink beneath.

Read extra: All Single Red Sea-Dwellers, side-by-side

For detailed info on Dr. Joe MacInnis and his numerous adventures click on the next hyperlink.

Read extra: The Old Man & The SEA-DWELLER: Dr. Joe MacInnis (RolexJournal.com)

Thank you on your curiosity.

History Of The Rolex Sea-Dweller

The Rolex Sea-Dweller was developed within the late Sixties for the particular objective of saturation diving and Ed Link’s contributions to this new type of undersea exploration had been of essential significance. The whole historical past of saturation diving, together with Ed Link’s most necessary accomplishment are visualized within the following infographic. Click the image to zoom in.

This graphic is obtainable as a top quality print in two sizes:

  • Regular small, 120cm x 68cm (47 x 26 inch): EUR 85.00 (plus delivery)
  • Regular, 150cm x 85cm (59 x 33 inch): EUR 120.00 (plus delivery)

Limited: 50 items, numbered and signed by Bob Barth, the legendary U.S. Navy Aquanaut who pioneered saturation diving through the well-known SEALAB missions. Bob developed the concept for the Rolex Gas Escape Valve: Sold out

To order please shoot me a DM on Instagram: @perezcope





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