vintage rolex diving helmet watch display

Collectible Vintage Rolex Diving Watches On Display

When my parents were working on this latest estate sale, the found this miniature copper diver’s helmet. Attached to it was a note stating it was from a Rolex watch store display. Ever curious, err, obsessive I had to investigate. (Plus, I do so love a great watch.)

vintage rolex diving helmet watch display

It turns out, Rolex did use small metal divers’ helmets in displaying their waterproof watches, including the Submariner the very first wristwatch for divers (1953); the Deep Sea Special, which was attached to the outside of the bathyscaphe the Trieste during its historic dive (1960); and the Sea-Dweller, Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises (COMEX) watches (1963). This is what the metal diver helmet looked like with its original Rolex dealer display stand.

rolex diver helmet stand vintage advertising

I’ve no idea how many Rolex stores there are now, let alone how many there were in 1970 when this display piece was used… I’d dare say, in the hundreds. Which makes the helmet, even without the sea-green turquoise display stand relatively rare.

However, as Rolex’s divine diving watches debuted before 1970 when this diver helmet display appeared, there were earlier display stands using a nautical theme, if not the “At One With The Sea” slogan. Here are a few of them:

vintage rolex submariner advertising fish

rolex submariner vintage posiden trident ad display

Rolex diving watches also got some promotion out of popular films. Sean Connery wore a Submariner “Big Crown” in 1962’s Dr. No, for example.

Sean-Connery-wearing-rolex-submariner-in-dr-no-with-Ursula-Andres

But one film watch causes confusion… Jaws.

Despite the Rolex advertising campaign in 1975, neither the Submariner nor any other Rolex was worn in the film. (Likely why the ads focused on author Peter Benchley.)

Rolex Submariner Chronometer Jaws Movie Watch Ad with Peter Benchley

Further confusion is added by the fact that watch collectors refer to the 1974 Rolex Sea-Dweller as the “Great White.” It’s debut certainly was good timing for the movie. But the “Great White” nickname comes from the fact that this version of the Sea-Dweller is in all “white” steel.

So just what watch did Richard Dreyfuss’ Matt Hooper wear in Jaws?

dreyfuss as hooper in jaws wearing watch

Equally obsessive collectors, with far more watch knowlege than I, did the research. It was published in the February 2010 issue of WatchTime. The conclusion? Dreyfuss wore an Alsta Nautoscaph. …Though, as the article states, that still leaves lots of room for questions. As for me, I’ve spent enough time submerged in all this watch talk.

If you are interested in the Rolex diving helmet display piece, the Milwaukee estate sale begins today, July 27, 2015, at noon. Details here.

Photo Credits: Copper Rolex display divers helmet via No Egrets Antiques & Estate Sales (aka Antiquips here on IV); Rolex diver helmet on display stand and other vintage Rolex retail displays via Paul Boutros by way of his posts in the Timezone Forum.

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Deanna

Deanna is the founder of Inherited Values, among other sites. She is also an antique dealer.

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