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Rolex Sea-Dweller

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About Rolex Sea-Dweller

The Rolex Sea-Dweller is a watch made for professional diving in deep waters. This watch is an enhanced version of the Rolex Submariner that features a helium escape valve to uphold functions inside hyperbaric chambers deep inside the water without suffering any damage.

Being able to reach the bottom of the ocean, Rolex designed the Sea-Dweller as not just a luxury watch but also an essential tool for professional saturation divers. Therefore, this watch helps them keep track of their time underwater while working. Nonetheless, it is still a luxury watch with outstanding aesthetic properties for every occasion.

History of the Sea-Dweller

This professional diving watch was released in 1967 as an upgraded model of the popular Rolex Submariner. However, the history of the Rolex Sea-Dweller can be traced to a few years before its release.

Rolex decided to reach new depths after the successful release of the Submariner. While the Submariner could reach 660 feet underwater, the company wanted to push the limits and go even deeper.

As a result, Rolex teamed up with the oceanographer Jaques Piccard and the US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh on an expedition to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench in 1960.

A prototype Rolex watch called the Deep Sea Special was attached to the outside of the vessel. The watch was able to properly work even at 35,814 feet underwater.

The mission's success led to the development of the Rolex Sea-Dweller in 1967. This new watch was specially designed for divers working in hyperbaric chambers and was equipped with a helium escape valve to prevent the watch from damaging.

Furthermore, this watch could work perfectly in hyperbaric chambers at the bottom of the ocean but was also waterproof up to 2,000 feet underwater.

Popular Sea-Dweller Models

A few variations of Rolex Sea-Dweller have been produced over the years after its release, such as:

Ref. 1665 (Double Red Sea-Dweller)

This was the first Sea-Dweller model released. It was designed with the same appearance as the Rolex Submariner. This model possesses a 40 mm case and a plexiglass crystal. It can be differentiated from its predecessor by the helium escape valve on the side at 9 o'clock and a text on the dial depicting the name and depths it can withstand. Furthermore, it has a self-winding caliber of 1575.

This model was nicknamed Double Red Sea-Dweller (DRSD) due to the two red text lines it had on the dial. This model was produced for ten years between 1967-1977.

Another version of the Ref. 1665 was produced between 1977-1983. This model was referred to as the Great White due to a change in the dial. The red lines were replaced by white text, and the Submariner branding was removed.

Ref. 16660 (Triple Six Sea-Dweller)

This model is considered the first modern Rolex Sea-Dweller. Hence, the plexiglass was replaced with a Sapphire crystal while keeping the 40 mm case. Furthermore, this model also features white gold around the hour marker.

Finally, the movement was updated to a caliber 3035 that beats at 28,800 beats per hour, allowing for a quick-set feature for the date.

One of the biggest upgrades of the Triple Six was its depth rating, which could reach 4,000 feet underwater. This model was produced between 1978-1989.

Ref. 16600

The Ref. 16600 was highly similar to the Triple Six. It features the same case and crystal, but the movement was updated to a caliber 3135. The most noticeable change was the luminous materials on the dial enhancement, such as LumiNova and Super-LumiNova.

This model was produced between 1989-2009.

Ref. 116660

This watch is bigger than its predecessors, with a 44 mm case. However, it still had the same caliber, 3135. The Ref. 116660 was the first Sea-Dweller featuring a Cerachrom bezel. Both the dial and the bezel came in black color. The water resistance was drastically improved, being capable of reaching 12,800 feet underwater.

This model was produced in 2008. However, a special edition with the reference 116660 D-Blue Edition was released in 2014. This specialized model was created to commemorate James Cameron's journey to the bottom of Mariana Trench and features a dial that fades from blue to black and a "Deepsea" inscription in green.

Ref. 116600

This model was similar to the Triple Six and had a 40 mm case. However, it was enhanced with modern technology. It featured a caliber 3135 and Cerachrom bezel. Furthermore, its water resistance was downgraded to just 4,000 feet. This model was produced between 2014-2017.

Ref. 126600

This new model features a 43 mm case, and unlike previous models, it comes in two versions. The first one is the traditional stainless steel case, and the second one is the Yellow Rolesor. Furthermore, the inscription "Sea-Dweller" in red is engraved on the dial, and the watch is powered by a caliber 3235.

Ref. 126603

This model was released in 2017 and is still being produced. A luxury version containing precious metals was released in 2018. This is the Ref. 126603 and is the first Sea-Dweller with this feature.

Rolex Sea-Dweller Feature

Rolex designed the Sea-Dweller for divers, especially those working in hyperbaric chambers in the deep sea. Therefore, every model shares a gas escape chamber as its unique feature.

Divers require remaining inside hyperbaric chambers when working on the bottom of the ocean. Due to the water pressure, the hyperbaric compartments are not filled with oxygen but a mix of breathable gases. Helium is one of these gases. However, helium can breach inside the watch, which can cause damage when the divers begin to ascend to the surface. Therefore, this special valve allows the helium to be safely released without causing damage.

Celebrities Wearing The Rolex Sea-Dweller

Although it was designed for professional divers, the Sea-Dweller is a valuable watch that has made its way to the personal collection of many celebrities, such as:

  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Tiger Woods
  • David Beckham
  • Ashton Kutcher
  • Ben Affleck
  • James Cameron


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