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Rolex Sea-Dweller

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Rolex Sea-Dweller: Models and Prices. New, used, vintage.

Rolex Sea-Dweller – A professional diving watch

Reliable, sophisticated, and traditional. Being the product of decade-long collaborations with professional divers, the Rolex Sea-Dweller delights with its extraordinary water-resistance, robust architecture, and the cleverly devised helium escape valve. A conqueror of the underwater world: the Sea-Dweller is a top-class diving watch.

Rolex Sea-Dweller

The legendary companion of deep-sea pioneers

The Rolex Sea-Dweller is a professional progression of the Rolex Submariner. A loyal companion to deep-sea researchers, this watch allows for the successful exploration of the underwater world. The Rolex Sea-Dweller is waterproof to an exceptional depth of 1,200 metres while its sister model, the Sea-Dweller Deepsea, can withstand even further depths of 3,900 metres.

Not only do researchers and divers praise the Sea-Dweller – admirers of elaborate watchmaking techniques are also attracted to this robust Rolex. The helium escape valve developed by Rolex guarantees that helium trapped in the watch case during saturation diving is easily able to escape. Innovative and reliable: the Rolex Sea-Dweller is a diving watch that does not succumb to pressure.

Strong, robust, practical

Rolex Sea-Dweller

Superficially, the Rolex Sea-Dweller (Ref. 116600) is characterized by a strong design. The case with a diameter of 40 millimetres and a thickness of 12.3 millimetres is made out of polished and satin-finished stainless steel. Robust and practical functions of the Sea-Dweller (Ref. 116600) include a black ceramic unidirectional rotatable bezel, and an ultra-strong, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.

Framed in white gold, the luminous indices stand out on the matte-black watch dial. For decades, the Sea-Dweller has stayed true to its design considering it is a spitting image of the Sea-Dweller from the ‘80s (Ref. 16660). The movement is a Manufacture Rolex Calibre 3435, which impresses with strength, precision, and long maintenance intervals. Like all Rolex Oyster watches, this model is certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, COSC.

The bracelet that grasps the wrist is that of the satin-finished stainless steel Oyster bracelet. The folding Oysterlock safety clasp displays the famous crown - the Rolex logo.

A crucial companion

Deep-sea diving with the Rolex Sea-Dweller

“In diving, time is a crucial piece of information. Be it operations, changing gas mixes, timing decompression stops, entering and exiting the diving bell, it’s all a matter of seconds.” (Pioneer of deep diving Henri-Germain Delauze, founder and president of COMEX)

Uncovering the secrets of the ocean: the ‘60s marked the birth of modern diving. Scientists and engineers all over the world researched the possibility of travelling or even living under water. The French diving company, Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises, COMEX, played a key role in this underwater odyssey and contributed decisively to the exploration of human life under water. COMEX is a pioneer in so-called saturation diving and from the early beginnings collaborated with Rolex in order to equip professional divers with reliable watches.

At first, Rolex supplied the COMEX divers with the classic Submariner, but over time, the manufacturer developed an elaborate helium escape valve, ensuring a safe decompression phase for the divers. The reason: after lengthy dives, divers have to go to a pressure chamber for decompression, where they breathe a mixture of helium, oxygen, and hydrogen in order to adapt to the normal ambient pressure. During this process, tiny helium molecules penetrate the watch case. A pressure difference is created as the helium cannot escape the waterproof case quickly enough. The helium escape valve prevents the sapphire crystal from bursting during this phase. If the pressure ratio changes for more than three bars, the valve opens automatically and the helium can escape without affecting water-resistance.

Initially, Rolex produced a special edition of the Submariner with a helium escape valve that was sold exclusively to COMEX divers. These watches can hardly be found today and are extremely sought after collection timepieces by watch enthusiasts. In 1967, the helium escape valve was launched together with the revolutionary new model Rolex Sea-Dweller (Ref. 1665). This diving watch, which is waterproof up to 610 metres, was immediately adopted as the official wristwatch of the COMEX-divers.

Double Red and Great White

Vintage models of the Rolex Sea-Dweller

Sea-Dweller Mark 0: 1967 was the year that the Rolex Sea-Dweller (Ref. 1665) was introduced to the world and quickly became an imperative mechanism in conquering the deep. The watch face displays red writing that states, “Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000”, and indicates kinship to the legendary Submariner. The number “2000” represents the maximum diving depth of 2,000 feet. Amongst collectors, the first Sea-Dweller models - also called Double Red Sea-Dwellers - are legendary and are sold today for many times the original selling price. Philippe Cousteau, a passionate diver and son of the legendary French naval officer and explorer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, was one of the first to wear this incredible watch.

The “Great White”: in 1977, the Sea-Dweller gained independence from the Submariner line, meaning that it was no longer a modification of Submariner models, and had become a separate watch line of its own. The red writing on the watch face that displayed the words, “Submariner 2000”, was replaced by the name, “Sea-Dweller”, in white lettering. The kinship to the Rolex classic Submariner is still obvious for experts.

Finally, in 1978, the Sea-Dweller (Ref. 1665) circle grew when the new model (Ref. 16660), with incredible waterproofness up to 1,200 metres, and an improved and larger escape valve, was launched. With the presentation of a new Manufacture Calibre 3185, the Sea-Dweller (Ref. 16600) was enhanced and stayed strong up until 2008. After a short production break, the Sea-Dweller (Ref. 116600) returned to the Rolex catalogue and impressed with water-resistance up to 1,200 metres.

Exquisite luxury

New, vintage, used - discovering the secrets of the ocean

As a loyal companion for deep-sea divers, the Sea-Dweller shares inspiring and extreme experiences with elite divers and enjoys their unshaken trust. The Sea-Dweller combines aesthetics with technological innovation and concrete relevance to the practical application. The high-quality helium escape valve and the unequaled waterproof capabilities of the watch are definitely convincing.

The price of a Sea-Dweller varies strongly and is determined in relation to the choice of a current model, a used model, or a vintage watch from the ‘70s. Rare vintage models of the Sea-Dweller (Ref. 1665) regularly make the front page with record-breaking prices at resales. Used pieces from the last decades offer a reasonably priced alternative to the latest model.

Both admirers of first-class diving watches and expectant watch collectors are highly captivated by the unmistakable design and excellent performance that is the Rolex Sea-Dweller.

Selling & buying Rolex Sea-Dweller models is easy at CHRONEXT

Do you own a Rolex Sea-Dweller model that you'd like to sell? At CHRONEXT, we offer you the option to sell new and used watches online as well as to buy them. With our various sales options such as trade-in, commission and direct sales, we help you to get the best possible deal while taking care of the entire process. If you're interested, simply fill out our online form or contact our Sales & Service team by phone or email. With many years of experience in the luxury watch trade, we're always happy to advise you and help sell your Seal-Dweller watch.