The Rolex Sea-Dweller is a true tool watch. It was designed specifically for diver’s and has every function that an avid diver would need. While not as popular as the Rolex Submariner, the Rolex Sea-Dweller is a highly regarded watch.
There are several features of the Sea Dweller that set it apart from other Rolex watches. One of these distinguishing features is its date window. While most Rolex watches have a Cyclops on the date window to magnify the date 2.5x, the Sea Dweller does not have this Cyclops, and many people prefer this cleaner look. Also, most of the Sea-Dweller models (excluding some of the earliest models), have a helium escape valve, which allows the watch to reach great depths underwater. The watch can reach depths of 4,000 feet, compared to the Submariner, which can only reach depths of 1,000 feet. The helium escape valve allows helium molecules to escape the case as the diver decompresses, preventing pressure from building up in the case, which causes the crystal to pop off of the watch. Similar to the Submariner, the Sea-Dweller also has a unidirectional rotating bezel that allows the diver to measure the amount of time spent underwater.
The Rolex Sea-Dweller was worth $550 in 1975, which is $2,470 with inflation. By 1988, the Sea-Dweller could be purchased for $2,050 ($4,140 with inflation). In the beginning of 2008, the Sea-Dweller was listed at a price of $6,225 ($6,907 USD with inflation).
At Baselworld in 2008, Rolex introduced the Rolex Sea-Dweller DEEPSEA 116660, which has since replaced the Sea-Dweller model. The DEEPSEA is water resistant up to 12,800 feet. The inspiration for this model was the Deep Sea Special, which took place in 1960 when a Rolex watch accompanied divers to the deepest parts of the ocean at a depth of 10,916 meters. The DEEPSEA has a diameter of 44mm and a thickness of 17.7mm. Like the original Sea-Dweller, it also has a unidirectional rotating bezel with 60-minute graduations, does not have a Cyclops above the date, and has a helium escape valve. The Ringlock System is what truly sets the DEEPSEA apart from the Sea-Dweller. This system is what allows the DEEPSEA to reach such great depths. This system consists of a 5mm thick sapphire crystal, a steel central ring, and a grade 5 titanium case back, which is extremely flexible helping it to withstand great pressure. The DEEPSEA has a Chromalight display the gives the hour markers and hands a blue glow that lasts up to 8 hours. In 2012, film-maker James Cameron became the first ever solo diver to reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the ocean. A Rolex DEEPSEA watch accompanied Cameron on his historic excursion.
At its introduction in beginning of 2008, the Rolex Sea-Dweller DEEPSEA 116660 was priced at $8,975 ($9,958 USD with inflation). By mid-2012, the Rolex Sea-Dweller DEEPSEA had a price of $12,050 ($12,444 USD with inflation).
The Sea-Dweller and DEEPSEA make the perfect companion for any avid diver. With the helium escape valve and the ring lock system, this watch is able to reach great depths and withstand a significant amount of pressure.