The Sea-Dweller by Rolex is a classic diving watch, but the question is, why buy the Sea-Dweller that costs more than its main competitor, the Rolex Submariner? The answer is that the Sea-Dweller looks larger and tougher, with the dramatic serrations on the rotating bezel, and the technical feel of the case with its helium escape valve. The rotating bezel has minute markings on it all the way around, unlike the Submariner. The watch is waterproof to 1,220 metres depth. The Chromalight luminescent paint glows a very cool blue in the dark. The watch is in a new size (43 mm) and it has a wider bracelet with the dual adjustment system, Glidelock and Fliplock, built into the clasp, providing a total variation of 46 mm in 2 mm increments. The 3235 movement provides 70 hours power reserve, and this the first time that it has been used for a professional tool watch. The new Sea-Dweller has a cyclops lens over the date window, and this is also another first for this watch. This may come as a surprise because the Sea-Dweller was appreciated for the fact that it didn’t have the cyclops lens, but there is a logic to it. And at the end of the day, in normal use, it does enable you to read the date more easily. If you don’t like the Cyclops lens, there is the DeepSea model which can dive even deeper and doesn’t have it. All these features justify the price of €10,400, £8,350, $11,350, 10,800 Swiss francs for the new Sea-Dweller.
The new Rolex Sea-Dweller is an anniversary model. The Sea-Dweller was introduced in 1967 specially for deep-sea divers breathing a Heliox mixture, and the new watch had a helium escape valve, patented by Rolex in that year. The watch had a date window from the start, and the technical justification is that professional divers often spend a long time underwater, with decompression times that can last up to several days at the end of a deep-sea mission.
The case is 43 mm in diameter and about 15 mm thick, so it’s a large watch. The middle case is in 904L steel, chosen for its exceptional corrosion resistance. The fluted caseback is designed so that it can be screwed down and unscrewed only using a special tool, available to Rolex watchmakers. The crown is screw-down and has a crown guard continuous with the middle case. The 1,220 metres waterproofness rating is plenty considering that the physiological limit for human beings at the current state of technology is a depth of 700 metres: below this, the hydrogen used in deep-sea breathing mixes becomes toxic.
Unidirectional rotating bezel
The bezel’s 60-minute scale enables divers to monitor dive and decompression times, and in everyday use on land it enables you to time events approximately using the minute hand. It has a scratch-resistant Cerachrom bezel with platinum-coated markings. It is wider than the bezel on the Submariner and previous versions of the Sea-Dweller.
Superlative Chronometer movement
The Sea-Dweller’s 3235 movement is certified as a chronometer by COSC, therefore with a tolerance of -4/+6 seconds max variation per day, and then by Rolex itself, to a tolerance of -2/+2 seconds per day, tested in the case. The 3235 is a new-generation self-winding movement designed and built by Rolex, incorporating 14 patents. Its major characteristics are the 70-hour power reserve and the insensitivity to magnetic fields by virtue of the nickel-phosphorus alloy used for the pallet fork and escape wheel, and the Parachrom balance spring in a niobium, zirconium and oxygen alloy, notable also for its blue surface. The movement has the stop-second function and rapid date setting, and it runs in 31 rubies.
The Oysterlock safety clasp prevents accidental opening, and the double extension system enables the bracelet to be adjusted for wearing over a diving suit. The Fliplock extension link provides an extra 26 mm, and the Glidelock system allows fine adjustment, in 2 mm increments. No tools are required.