Honestly, we have missed the Sea-Dweller in the past 6 years. With the introduction of the Sea-Dweller Deep Sea in 2008 the SD ref. 16600 disappeared from the collection. That was one of the reasons to include it in the wish list that we published a few weeks before Baselworld. After 7 years of absence from Rolex’ collection, the Sea-Dweller is back in a contemporary version featuring a Cerachrom bezel insert, the Oysterlock safety clasp and Rolex Glidelock bracelet extension system.
Besides the re-introduction of the Sea-Dweller we also predicted (and wished for) a GMT-Master II with a blue/red bezel (nicknamed Pepsi), a Daytona with a silver dial and black chronograph sub dials (nicknamed Panda dial) with black ceramic bezel and a Milgauss with a blue dial. We got the Milgauss and GMT-Master II Pepsi correct, however the desired Daytona was not introduced. And luckily the world’s most iconic dive watch is now available again.
The Helium Escape Valve
The Sea-Dweller was introduced in 1967 and was originally designed for professional deep-sea diving. It already featured a Helium escape valve – something that Rolex patented in 1967 – which is a useful feat for professional divers, who have to stay in diving bells for a period of time. At the depths where diving bells are used, divers do not breath the same air that we’re breathing on the surface, as that would be dangerous (some gasses expand in such way that they would damage our body, when ascending). That’s why professional divers use a gas-mix that also includes Helium. Unfortunately Helium can enter a dive watches (when the pressure in very high, like on great depths), and when ascending the Helium molecules expand faster than they can escape from the dive watch’ inside. That would build up pressure from the inside and ultimately the crystal would pop out, and that’s something you really don’t want to happen!
You need to take into account that when the Sea-Dweller was introduced, dive watches served a real purpose. Much different from today, now 99% (or more) of all dive watches do not get more action than some ‚desk diving’. Back in the sixties and seventies, there were no electronic dive computers and a dive watch with unidirectional rotating bezel, was a life-saving instrument.
Bezel and dial
The Sea-Dweller 4000’s bezel, is like the bezels on its predecessors, a 60-minute graduated, unidirectional, rotatable bezel. The bezel on previous models was made in aluminium, covered with black printing; the new bezel is made in Rolex’s patented and in-house produced Cerachrom. This material is virtually scratch proof and its colour will not fade over time, as it’s unaffected by ultraviolet rays. The black dial features large “Chromalight” hour markers and hands, filled with luminescent material that emits a long-lasting blue glow for excellent legibility in dark conditions.
The first Sea-Dweller, reference 1665, was water proof to a depth of 660 metres or 2,000 feet. The depth rating of the new Oyster case is 1,220 metres (4,000 feet), hence the name Sea-Dweller 4000. Rolex makes its cases from 904L steel, which is a harder and more corrosion-resistant steel, than the 316L steel that is used by the majority of watch brands. The Triplock screw-down crown adds to the water-resistance, and is protected by the crown guards.
Inside ticks Rolex’ well-known and super reliable self-winding mechanical movement, calibre 3135. Besides hours, minutes and seconds, it also indicates the date. The movement is of course in-house developed and manufactured and has been tested and approved by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). The movement’s escapement features the Parachrom hairspring, that Rolex first used in 2005, and which offers a much better stability and more precision in case of shocks.
Rolex has GREATLY improved their bracelets in the last decennia. While the old bracelets from the 1960’s, 1970’s and even the 1980’s are not known for being solid and robust, the new is exactly that: robust and solid. The new Oysterlock safety clasp prevents from accidental opening, and the double extension system allows the watch to be worn over a diving suit up to 7 mm thick. The most comfortable feature of the new Oyster bracelet is the Rolex Glidelock, which allows the wearer to fine-adjust the length of the bracelet by 20 mm, with 2 mm increments.
The retail price is € 8500.- Euro including taxes.
- Case: 904L stainless steel, 40 mm in diameter, helium escape valve, screw-down crown, unidirectional rotating bezel with Cerachrom bezel, guaranteed waterproof to 1,220 metres (4,000 feet)
- Movement: calibre 3135, in-house developed and manufactured, self-winding, COSC certified, 28,800 vph (4Hz), 31 jewels, 48 hours of power reserve, Parachrom hair spring, Breguet overcoil, large balance wheel with variable inertia screws, regulating via four gold Microstella nuts
- Bracelet: Oyster three-piece bracelet with solid links, 904L stainless steel, satin finished, polished edges, Oysterlock folding safety clasp, Rolex Glidelock extension system (20 mm in increments of 2 mm), Fliplock extension link (26 mm)
More info: www.rolex.com