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Rolex Vintage Sea-Dweller Models

The Sea-Dweller isn't the most well-known Rolex timepiece. It trails the timeless Datejust, the royal Day-Date, and the James Bond-inspired Submariner by a long shot. Its durability, however, has little to do with it. It epitomizes what Rolex wants to be known for: making long-lasting timepieces for everyone, including a limited number of pressure divers.

If you are looking to brush up on your knowledge of the Rolex Sea-Dweller, or you wish to add this professional dive watch to your collection, check out our comprehensive guide to learn all about this commercial diving-specific timepiece.

History of Sea-Dweller

Scuba diving's roots can be traced back to a watch called the Sea-Dweller, which Rolex first introduced in the 1950s. After World War II, recreational scuba diving became increasingly popular, and as a result, dive watches for military, professional, and civilian use became commercially available.

Evolution of Sea-Dweller

From 1971 to 1977, the "Double Red" Sea-Dweller, with a water resistance of 2000 feet (610 meters) and a case back that said "patent-pending," was one of the most well-known variations.

The Rolex Sea-Dweller was renamed the "Great White" in 1977 when it underwent a significant redesign. To further distinguish between the Submariner and Sea-Dweller models, this model dropped the red lettering on the dial and mentioned "Submariner 2000".

After a few years of manufacturing, Rolex produced the Sea-Dweller 16660 in 1978, including a sapphire crystal, a larger helium release valve, and an increased depth rating of 1,220 meters.

A new Sea-Dweller with a modern caliber 3135 and strong end links on the bracelet debuted in 1988, the Sea-Dweller ref. 16600. This model was decommissioned in 2008 and replaced by a 44mm Deepsea that had been in operation for many decades.

Rolex discontinued the Sea-Dweller model in 2008 in favor of a new, considerably larger Deepsea Sea-Dweller (DSSD).

Nonetheless, Rolex decided to bring it back after six years, and the Sea-Dweller made its first appearance at Baselworld 2014, much to the pleasure of Rolex lovers everywhere.

It had all the hallmark design characteristics of earlier Rolex Sea-Dweller models, but it also had the most up-to-date Rolex features.

Rolex Sea-Dweller Design

Every Rolex Sea-Dweller watch features an Oyster bracelet, a date window at 3 o'clock, luminous indexes, and hands reminiscent of Mercedes-Benz models, irrespective of when it was made or the precise reference number bears.

To assist you in picking which Sea-Dweller model to purchase, we've outlined some key differences between Sea-Dweller models.

  • (1967 – 1977) Ref 1665, known as "Double Red"
  • (1977-1983) Ref 1665 known as "Great White"
  • (1978 – 1989) Ref 16660, known as "Triple Six"
  • (1989 – 2009) Ref 16600
  • (2014 – 2017) Ref 116600
  • (2017 – Present) Ref 126600
  • (2019 – Present) Ref 126603

Deepsea further cements the status of Rolex as the best dive watch on the market. With a water resistance rating of 12,800 feet, these remarkable timepieces have been rigorously tested in a hyperbaric chamber in Geneva. This year, Rolex is releasing their latest Deepsea model, the Rolex Deepsea Year 2020.