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The Rolex Sea-Dweller

Modern Versions of the Rolex Submariner

The Rolex Sea-Dweller is an exceptional watch, crafted specially for divers. While older varieties of the Rolex Sea Dweller had a depth rating of 2000 feet, currently available models are rated up to 4000 feet, and a staggering 12,800 feet in the newest model introduced at the Basel Fair in 2008. Although Rolex Submariner is also a diver's watch, it cannot withstand nearly the same pressure as that of the Sea-Dweller.

History Behind its Creation

Rolex discovered the need to create something even more sophisticated than the Submariner when, during the 1960s, COMEX--a French commercial diving company--reported a technical problem that its divers faced with the model 5513 Rolex Submariner. It was caused due to the de-compression chambers where the watch literally exploded from the case. This occurred after long periods of extreme pressure at great depths, whereby helium particles would penetrate the watch's crystal and seal but were unable to escape when the diver went through the decompression chambers. Rolex quickly realized that while Submariners were awesome performers even at excessive amounts of pressure from outside, they actually failed due to the inner pressure created on deep dives.

As a quick solution, Rolex fitted a one-way gas escape valve on one side of the case, positioned opposite the winding crown in the special Submariner 5513 models. As these were specially issued to the COMEX divers, some of these models even bore the “COMEX” logo. The problem with this solution was that after every six months, the watches needed to be sent in for maintenance. Later in 1967, Rolex rolled out another model: 5514. These were also specially fitted Submarines. But this time, they bore not only the “COMEX” logo on the dial and also the COMEX identification numbers on the back. The commitment of Rolex to deliver the best encouraged it to come out with a new, special line of watches which would be meant for only harsher conditions at great sea depths, leading to the birth of the Rolex Sea-Dweller.

The Earliest Versions of Sea-Dweller

The first Sea-Dweller was launched by the end of 1967, bearing the model number 1665. It had a depth rating of 2000 feet, which was clearly engraved in red color as “Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000” on the dial. This model featured the 1575 movement, the new Triplock crown, a thicker crystal, and a larger case. The new Triplock crown featured a triple gasket system which helps in tightly screwing down the case tube against the Oyster case. As a result, another layer of protection is created. This model did not carry the date magnification bubble, present on all Rolex watches. The special version of 1665 that was issued to the COMEX divers, however, continued to display the standard “COMEX” logo.

Later, to strengthen the image of Sea-Dweller, the tag “Submariner 2000” was dropped leaving only “Sea-Dweller” on the dial in white color. This look started by the mid 1970s and continued until 1981.

The Modern Versions of Sea-Dweller

The model that succeeded the 1665 was launched in 1978 as the 16660. This model was indeed a big leap as it had a depth rating of 4000 feet as opposed to a mere 2000 feet in the earlier model. Fitted with the 3035 movement, it features a sapphire crystal and an improved, larger helium escape valve. This is the model that can currently be found on the market. It has also been used by the COMEX divers since 1992.

One very popular model is the 40mm Sea-Dweller in steel, featuring a black dial with white markings and a black rotating bezel. The Oyster Fliplock bracelet complements it perfectly.

As there is no limit to Rolex's ambitions, it announced the introduction of a new, much improved Sea-Dweller model at the Basel World Watch and Jewelery Show of 2008. It has been named as the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Sea-Dweller DEEPSEA with a staggering depth rating of 12,800 feet. It is the first watch of its kind and something that every underwater treasure hunter and professional diver will look forward to owning.