Updated: May 6, 2022
Crafted especially for those who pursue diving as a hobby or career, the Rolex Sea-Dweller is the most reliable watch in the water. When the Sea-Dweller first hit the markets, the masses were amazed by its depth rating of 2,000 feet. As subsequent models were created, the depth rating increased dramatically.
The inspiration to create such an incredible timepiece surfaced in the 1960’s, when a French commercial diving company known as COMEX reported a technical error with the Model 5513 Submariner. The problem was due to the long periods of extreme pressure building up helium particles. These particles would penetrate the watch’s crystal and seal but were unable to escape when divers went through a decompression chamber, therefore causing the watch to literally explode from the case. As a quick solution to this hindrance, Rolex attached a one-way gas escape valve on the side opposite of the winding crown. Because this new and improved timepiece was specifically issued to COMEX divers, the logo of the French company was engraved on a few of the watches.
Unfortunately, the improved timepiece still had problems. Every six months, the watches needed to be sent in for maintenance. In 1967, Rolex unveiled Model 5514, which bore the COMEX name on the dial and COMEX identification numbers on the backside. Due to their commitment to their customers, Rolex made a resolution that the next line of watches would be able to withstand harsher depths and conditions.
The original Sea-Dweller was introduced in 1967 as model number 1665. Clearly engraved in red on the dial were the words “Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000,” the latter part signifying the depth resistance of the timepiece. It featured a 1575 movement and a Triplock crown. In addition, the crystal was thicker and the case was larger. A special version of the 1665 that bore COMEX’s logo was presented to the COMEX divers. Starting in the mid-1970’s, “Submariner 2000” was dropped and “Sea-Dweller” was printed on the dial in white.
More modern versions of the Rolex Sea-Dweller include Model 16660, which was launched in 1978. This model had a depth rating of 4,000 feet, an achievement that awed consumers worldwide. Presented with a 3035 movement and featuring a beautiful sapphire crystal, the timepiece also had an improved helium escape valve. The model is still quite popular on the markets today and has even been used by COMEX divers.
A popular model of this line is the 40mm Sea-Dweller in steel. A black dial with white markings and a black rotating bezel add to the majesty of the timepiece. It, too, can withstand unbelievable amounts of water pressure at extreme depths and is regarded as one of the most durable Rolex models available.
In 2008, a new Rolex Sea-Dweller was revealed at Basel Fair. Bearing the name of Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Sea-Dweller DEEPSEA, it can withstand an overwhelming depth of 12,800 feet. It is a timepiece that is truly essential for underwater treasure hunters and professional divers.
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