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Rolex Watches

History of Rolex Sea-Dweller

Each and every one of the Rolex models is in a class of its own, among which the Rolex Sea-Dweller is undoubtedly one of the finest tool watches. Engineered for professional diving use, the Sea-Dweller offers all the functions a diver may possibly need. Even though you may think of the Submariner first when speaking of Rolex’s dive watches, rest assured that the Sea-Dweller is nothing less.

In the 1960s, Rolex started developing an ultra-water-resistant tool watch to cater to the needs of deep diving, one that could function stably at depths of 300m/1,000ft or more. In 1967, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller Submariner, or the reference 1665, which was fashioned after the Submariner came into existence. It was specifically designed for the French engineering and deep diving company COMEX with a thicker crystal and in multiple variations to withstand depths of 610m/2,000ft. This water-resistance level is shared by other vintage models from the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller line. Ever since 1977, the Sea-Dweller has become a standard issue for every COMEX diver.

For saturation diving purposes, a majority of Sea-Dweller models come with a helium escape valve, which has also become an essential feature of every Sea-Dweller which comes after the Rolex Sea-Dweller 126600 from 2017. Another feature that sets the Sea-Dweller apart from the other Rolex timepieces is the exclusion of the usual cyclops over the date window, as it will not stand the underwater pressure even if fixed by UV light curing adhesives.

We must not forget to mention the “Double Red Sea-Dweller” which is the most coveted version by collectors. Its dial shows two iconic lines of red text reading “Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000”, and hence the nickname. What makes the “Double Red Sea-Dweller” so special is that it was only produced during the period of 1967 – 1977 and therefore it may be rather difficult to locate one still in its originally perfect condition. This iconic timepiece also features a 40mm/1.57in case that is 14.mm/0.58in thick.

After the “Double Red Sea-Dweller” ceased production, a new “Great White Sea-Dweller” was born in 1977 and it carried a few new modifications. What is most notable is the replacement of the red text with an all-white font, a feature that contributed to its nickname. It also dropped out the Submariner label on the dial, meaning that the Sea-Dweller had branched out and become its own model and not just a modified Submariner. These new features are to be followed by future Sea-Dweller designs.

The Sea-Dweller and The Deepsea

Introduced at the Basel World in 2008, the Sea-Dweller model was taken to another level and renamed the Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea with the reference 116660. This marvelous creation not only shows improvement on both precision and sturdiness, but it also boasts an official depth rating of up to 3,900m/12,800ft, a level unmatched by any other mechanical watch from the series. As a matter of fact, this epic dive watch even lasted at the depths of 4,875m/15,994ft as tested using special equipment developed by COMEX. To comply with the ISO 6425 international standard for dive watches, the depth rating was understated to allow a safety reserve of 25%.

The 2008 Deepsea model is also remarkable for its Ringlock System made of titanium and steel alloy, which is used to hold the crystal and case back together. The ceramic bezel with engraved rehaut and platinum-filled numbers houses a black Maxi Dial. Other features include the blue Chromalight, Glidelock adjustment and dive extension link on the bracelet, and Caliber 3135 movement with the addition of Rolex's blue Parachrom hairspring.

To date, the Rolex Deepsea comes in three versions: the aforementioned 116660 with the classic design of white text on a black dial; Rolex Deepsea D Blue introduced in 2014 as a tribute to movie director James Cameron’s solo dive; and the updated Rolex Deepsea D-Blue with the reference 126660 which was debuted at the Basel World in 2018. The latest version features a Caliber 3235 movement and remodeled case. The folding clasp and bracelet have also been resized.

Other honorable members of the Sea-Dweller family include the Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000, or reference 116600 which features an improved depth rating of 1,220m/4,000ft. This rare piece was only in production from 2014 to 2017. And just a year before the introduction of the 2018 Deepsea, a new and enlarged Sea Dweller 126600 was launched at the Basel World. This 2017 version was launched in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Sea-Dweller, and contains many new features. The case size grows from the original 40mm to 43mm accompanied by a wider Oyster bracelet. It is equipped with the Caliber 3235 movement as well as a cyclops lens over the date window on the new watch crystal, the most notable change from older models.

Buy a Rolex Sea Dweller Now

To divers, the ultra-resistant Rolex Sea-Dweller or Deepsea is what you need to conquer the deep sea, and in some cases, they may even offer capabilities far beyond what you may ever utilize. To watch lovers, these exceptional watches are the epitome of engineering excellence and surely not to be missed from your collection.

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