When it comes to dive watches, Rolex has lived up to the highest of expectations, mapping unimaginable depths in the deepest of seas. Rolex’s love affair with the deep seas has gone a long way since introducing the original Oyster watch in 1926.
No doubt a pioneer in waterproof watches, Rolex offers some of the best, if not the best, dive watches in the world. In fact, the brand’s innovative technology is imbibed in three of Rolex’s best dive watches: the Rolex Submariner, the Rolex Sea-Dweller, and, of course, the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller.
While these three Rolex watches may look quite similar at a glance, each one features distinct aesthetics and innovations that distinguish its functionality and technology from each other.
The Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller and the Rolex Sea-Dweller
Even though the Rolex Submariner takes the cake for being the most famous and pioneering amongst Rolex dive watches, the brand upped its game with the Rolex Sea-Dweller introduced in the 1960s and its successor, the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller, introduced in 2008, which we will refer to in this article as the “Rolex Deepsea”.
These two watches are everything a diver expects, and literally outsmarts the Rolex Submariner with a lot more advanced technology. This simply means a diver sporting a Rolex Deepsea timepiece no longer just dives deep but also stays deep for a longer period.
Considering the Sea-Dweller owns the record of boasting a depth level of 1,200 metres, the Rolex Deepsea remains the most water-resistant dive watch from Rolex, surviving a depth reach of 3,900 metres. Regardless of the Rolex Deepsea celebrating the genes of the Sea-Dweller collection, it owns a unique architectural standpoint. Its highly meticulous design is glamorous than most Sea-Dwellers, with its larger size body (by 1mm) and domed sapphire crystal, making a head-turning entrance on the wrist.
The Upgraded Rolex Calibre 3235 Movement
Beneath the iconic dial lies the mechanism that notches up the making of the Rolex Sea-Dweller and Rolex Deepsea watches in comparison to the Rolex Submariner. While the initial generations of the Rolex Sea-Dweller and the Rolex Deepsea were powered using the 3135-calibre movement (which has been the case for more date displaying timepieces of Rolex), in 2017, Rolex introduced the new-generation timepieces in the collection with the upgraded Calibre 3235 movement.
Boasting a 70-hour power reserve, the new Calibre 3235 incorporates a new prototype, the Rolex-patented Chronergy escapement, promising high precision, shock- and magnetic fields-resistance and overall reliability.
Subtle Differences Between the Rolex Sea-Dweller and Rolex Deepsea Watches
Despite most similarities, the Rolex Sea-Dweller and the Rolex Deepsea have subtle differences. The latter has a slightly bigger inner bezel compared to the classic inner bezel design of the Sea-Dweller.
The uniquely extra impenetrable domed crystal poses against the inner bezel ring, which is created using a tough, nitrogen-alloyed steel metal. In addition, the caseback of the Rolex Deepsea is designed with a multi-part system using a flexible titanium cover paired opposite the hard-nut inner bezel ring to ensure at no given point water goes inside. This outsmarts the mechanism of the Sea-Dweller, making the Rolex Deepsea a favourite among hard-core saturation divers.
The duo Rolex Sea-Dweller and the Rolex Deepsea are the brand’s toughest and most durable diver’s watches when compared to the Rolex Submariner. However, each of these watches designed at different times serves the purpose of its own in terms of a diver’s needs. The deeper a diver goes, Rolex has a solution nestled beneath the waterproof casing of each of these watches.
Rolex Deepsea Watches
Rolex Deepsea D-Blue Dial
Nicknamed the “Rolex Deepsea James Cameron”, the Rolex Deepsea D-Blue Dial (Reference 126660-0002) is an ode to James Cameron’s historic solo dive in 2012 — the Rolex Deepsea Challenge — which took him to more than 11km deep into the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
The exquisite two-colour gradient dial of the Rolex Deepsea D-Blue changes from deep blue to pitch-black, in honour of the filmmaker’s journey into the deepest of depths. The 44mm Oystersteel case features a unidirectional rotatable bezel, D-blue dial, highly luminescent hands and indexes, and an Oystersteel bracelet with flat three-piece links.
The perpetual, mechanical self-winding Calibre 3235 movement gives this watch a robust 70-hour power reserve. And its domed 5.5mm-thick scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and screw-down winding crown with a Triplock waterproof system ensure that the watch has an impressive water-resistance of 3,900 metres.
Rolex Deepsea Black Oystersteel
With the classic elegance of a stainless steel case and black dial, the Rolex Deepsea Black (Reference 126660-0002) is a timeless watch that is striking both in and out of the dive sites. The 44mm Oystersteel case is extremely resistant and retains its polished sophistication even in the harshest environments. The black dial features maximum legibility with its Chromalight display. It features monobloc middle case, screw-down caseback and winding crown with Triplock waterproof system.
Running on the in-house perpetual, mechanical, self-winding Calibre 3235 movement, the Rolex Deepsea Black is COSC-certified and features a 70-hour power reserve and a precision of -2/+2 sec/day. As with all Rolex Deepsea watches, it boasts a water-resistance of 3,900 metres.
All Rolex Deepsea and Sea-Dweller watches also feature the helium escape valve function. This technology allows helium to escape from the case quickly enough during decompression to avoid creating pressure inside the watch. Hence, preventing the accidental ‘popping’ of the watch crystal. A matching Oystersteel bracelet completes the watch.
Rolex Sea-Dweller Watches
Rolex Sea-Dweller Oystersteel and 18K Yellow Gold
Made of Rolesor material, a combination of 18K yellow gold and Oystersteel, the 43mm Rolex Sea-Dweller Oystersteel and 18K Yellow Gold (Reference 126603-0001) timepiece is truly iconic. Its two-tone design appeals to the diving enthusiast who has a penchant for opulence.
The Rolex-manufactured perpetual, mechanical, self-winding Calibre 3235 movement gives the watch a power resistance of 70 hours with stop-seconds for precise timing. It features a 60-minute graduated, a unidirectional rotatable bezel that allows divers to closely monitor their dive and decompression times.
Enclosed is a black dial highlighting hour markers and hands. It also features Chromalight display for extra luminosity and legibility in the dark. The screw-down crown has a Triplock triple system, giving the watch a maximum water-resistance of 1,220 metres. The Rolex Sea-Dweller’s three-piece link Oyster bracelet is fitted with an Oysterlock safety clasp. This prevents accidental opening, hence giving the wearer the extra sense of security.
Rolex Sea-Dweller Oystersteel
Looking a lot similar to the Rolex Deepsea 126600-0002, the Rolex Sea-Dweller Reference 126600-0001 is also elegant in Oystersteel case and sleek black dial. Some of the differences mainly lie in the water-resistance and date display. The Rolex Deepsea Oystersteel features a 1,220m water-resistance, which is 2,680m less than the Rolex Deepsea. And unlike the Rolex Deepsea, the Sea-Dweller’ date display is visible under a Cyclops lens.
However, just like the Rolex Deepsea, the Sea-Dweller Reference 126600-0002 features the in-house Calibre 3235 movement. It runs on a strong power reserve of 70 hours. It also features a unidirectional rotatable bezel and a screw-down crown with Triplock triple waterproof system. Its black dial likewise features Chromalight display with long-lasting blue luminescence for maximum legibility in the dark. It is also COSC-certified and has a matching Oystersteel bracelet to complement its overall design.
The Quintessential Dive Watch: Rolex Submariner
Now, let’s talk about the original Rolex dive watch, the Rolex Submariner. Introduced in 1953, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner is one of the first dive wristwatches to accomplish the feat of mapping a depth of 100 metres underwater. It was the second in rank after Rolex launched the world’s first waterproof timepiece called the Oyster back in 1926.
The Rolex Submariner is a more advanced version encased with the applied technology required by divers. With a re-imagined case of the original Rolex Oyster, the Rolex Submariner features a distinct dial with luminous hour markers. It also boasts a rotatable bezel with corrosion-resistant Cerachrom insertions and the original Oyster bracelet.
The new generation Submariner watches draw inspiration and stay true to the design aesthetics of the original model. Amplifying visibility during deep dives, the dial provides maximum readability using Chromalight technology.
A Robust Case & Movement
The Oystersteel case provides a more robust outlook protecting the watch against extreme conditions either caused by wind, water, dust or pressure. The Triplock winding ensures the case is safe from water, giving the watch an impressive 300m water-resistance. Divers can easily set their time, using the knurled edges of the bezel.
The watch is further punctuated with the Chromalight zero marker, making it functional even in the darkest corners underwater. At all times, the watch is strongly secure against your wrist, thanks to the patented glidelock of the bracelet.
Equipped with the 3135 calibre movement, the Rolex Submariner features a self-winding mechanism solely developed and manufactured by Rolex. COSC-certified Swiss chronometer, this in-house calibre movement features Rolex’s Parachrom hairspring, boasting great resistance to shocks and changes in temperature.
Finally, the unidirectional rotatable bezel allows the diver to monitor the dive-in time and decompression. It is also scratch-proof, therefore unaffected by the high-chlorinated seawater.
Rolex Submariner Watches
Rolex Submariner Date 18K Yellow Gold
Highlighting the iconic blue dial that Rolex is famous for, the 40mm 18K yellow gold Rolex Submariner is a true Rolex original. Just like the Rolex Sea-Dweller, it features the Cyclops lens to highlight the date window at 3 o’clock. As all of the Rolex dive watches, the Rolex Submariner uses Chromalight display. This technology ensures luminosity and maximum readability even in the darkest and deepest water.
Unlike the Rolex Sea-Dweller and the Rolex Deepsea, however, the Rolex Submariner features the perpetual, mechanical, self-winding Calibre 3135. It has a power reserve of 48 hours — which is 22 hours less than the two dive watches. Although it has 300m water-resistance, a lot less than what the other two watches offer, it has the same screw-down crown with Triplock triple waterproofness system. The matching 18K yellow gold bracelet features the same folding Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system for maximum security and comfort on the wrist.
Rolex Submariner Steel Green Dial
The striking green dial makes this Rolex Submariner (Reference 116610 LV) a standout. The green dial displays 18K white gold hands and hour markers. It also ensures high legibility even in the darkest dives using Chromalight technology. Enclosed in a 40mm Oystersteel case, this model runs on the in-house Calibre 3135. The Calibre 3135 gives the watch a power reserve of 48 hours. It also features Rolex’s Parachrom hairspring, which ensures greater resistance to shocks and temperature changes.
The unidirectional rotatable bezel with signature knurled edge allows divers to monitor dive time and decompression stops accurately. This increases safety and security while underwater. As with every Rolex Submariner watch, the Rolex Submariner 116610 LV boasts a 300m water-resistance. Finally, a matching Oystersteel bracelet finishes this elegant dive watch.
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