Weekly Watch Photo – Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea

After a few days without WiFi access, my withdrawal symptoms are starting to disappear now my hands are on the keyboard again. A belated start of the week, but we’ve got a great Weekly Watch Photo for you. Marcus Behnke from the German forum Watchlounge.com shot some amazing photos of the über-dive-watch, the Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea.

Introduced in 2008 and already a classic, although opinions are divided. The Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea is capable of withstanding depths that we mere mortals will never descend to. It totally outperforms close to 100% of its actual use, as these watches usually don’t get more diving action then desk diving.

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea ref 116660

The Sea-Dweller Deep Sea is the updated (new & improved) version of the Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 16600. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Sea-Dweller DEEPSEA, reference 116660, has an official depth rating of 3,900 meters or 12,800 feet. In the year of its introduction it was the most water resistant mechanical watch in serial production. In serial production, yes, because the non-serial produced Pita Oceana has a depth rating that outperforms this Rolex beast.

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea ref 116660

The Sea-Dweller Deep Sea or short SDDS, measures 44.0 mm in diameter and 17.7 mm in height. It has a 5.5 mm thick domed crystal and weighs 220 grams in total (bracelet at full length). It is by the way, the only Rolex with date that does not feature the recognizable cyclops date magnifier. The reason for this is its depth rating; the cyclops wouldn’t survive the pressure at great depths.

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea ref 116660

In 1953 Rolex patented the Twinlock crown, to protect the movement from water getting into the case. Rolex increased guarantee of waterproofness for their diving watches by introducing the Triplock crown in 1970.

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea ref 116660

Another feat that totally outperforms the actual use of the SDDS, is the Helium Escape Valve. Before going back into the open air, a professional diver who returns to surface after a deep dive must spend time in a decompression chamber, where he breathes a gas mixture containing helium.

In the chamber, the helium, an extremely light volatile gas, infiltrates everywhere, also penetrating the watch. It escapes from the watch at a slower pace than the reduction of pressure in the chamber, with the result that the pressure of helium ‘imprisoned’ inside the watch is so great that it can cause damage to the watch and/or let the crystal pop out. Rolex created a helium valve that was fitted with a spring. It opens when the difference in pressure between the inside and outside of the watch reach 3-5 bars.

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea ref 116660

What many people don’t know is that Rolex AND Doxa co-created the helium escape valve, inspired by the needs of Comex. Comex was a French professional diving company that used Rolex watches for their divers. It wasn’t Rolex, but Doxa with their Conquistador, who introduced a dive watch with a helium escape valve to the consumer market.

There is much more to learn about the Rolex SDDS, but now I let the beautiful photos speak…

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea ref 116660

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea ref 116660

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea ref 116660

Many thanks to Marcus Behnke from the watchlounge.com, a German watch forum, for letting me use his beautiful photos.

This article is written by Frank Geelen, executive editor for Monochrome Watches.


Frank Geelen

Frank Geelen is an expert on Haute Horlogerie and his horological heart beats faster from beautiful hand-finished mechanical movements. He loves to explain all technical details of complications like tourbillons, minute repeaters, constant force escapements and column-wheel chronographs and he has been doing that for more than seven years. Besides publishing daily here at Monochrome Watches, Frank also writes for several other publications, both online and offline.

View all articles by Frank Geelen

2 Responses to “Weekly Watch Photo – Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea”

  1. Patrik says:

    To big!! To heavy!! To expensive!! But absolutely wonderful….I want i want i want!!!!

  2. Wild Bill says:

    Bought one. Love it! Great review, Frank.

Leave a Reply