Rolex Sea-Dweller side
Rolex Submariner

What are the differences between Rolex diving watches?

Comparison Submariner – Sea-Dweller

For more than half a century, the Submariner has been virtually synonymous with “conquest of the underwater world” … or is that the Sea-Dweller? Exactly, both are! But what makes the two models different from each other, seeing as they’re both made to dive? Quite a lot …

Rolex Sea-Dweller side

Submariner or Sea-Dweller? (©Rolex)

History of the diving professionals

The origin of both lies in the Submariner, first showcased in 1953, as the Sea-Dweller only went on sale nearly 15 years later. The first model of the Submariner was the first diver’s watch that guaranteed a waterproofness up to 100 m depth, even though this was not written on the dial.

First Rolex Submariner 1953

The first Submariner of 1953 was waterproof to 100 meters depth. (©Rolex)

What is still today a barely reachable depth for skin divers, was however soon no longer sufficient in the professional field. To meet the growing demands of professional divers, for example in offshore oil production, Rolex developed the Sea-Dweller Professional Model in 1967, based on the Submariner. This first model, which still bore the designation Submariner 2000 on the clock-face and whose case was slightly thicker, already guaranteed waterproofness up to a depth of 610 m.

First Rolex Sea-Dweller 1967

For long stays in the pressure chamber, the Sea-Dweller was equipped with a date display right from the start (©Rolex)

Another difference was the helium valve, which was designed to prevent problems with long stays in high-pressure environments in a helium atmosphere. Without this safety valve, the watch glasses often cracked, because helium molecules, which had diffused into the watch, could not escape fast enough during surfacing.

Rolex Sea-Dweller side helium-valve

The latest model of Sea-Dweller, with a helium valve on the side of the case (©Rolex)

In 2008, Rolex will launch a special version of the Sea-Dweller, the Sea-Dweller Deepsea. The extreme diver’s watch with a case diameter of 44 millimetres and a compressive strength of up to 3900 metres can be recognised from its extreme dimensions even at a distance; its sapphire crystal alone has a thickness of 5.5 millimeter.

Rolex Deepsea 126660

Sea-Dweller Deepsea, Ref. 126660, D-blue Dial (©Rolex)

It is also the newest model in the triple team, introduced at the Baselworld 2018, with new caliber, as well as revised case and bracelet.

These were the Rolex novelties 2018!

The current models

Of course, both the Submariner and the Sea-Dweller have undergone several developments over the decades, with Rolex traditionally presenting new models at the Baselworld watch fair. The latest Submariner, which was presented in 2012, is a “No Date”. The latest version with a date display dates back to 2010, when two new stainless steel versions were introduced: the black Reference 116610LN, as well as the “Hulk”, the Reference 116610LV, with a green bezel and a green clock-face.

Rolex Submariner Date 116610

The black Submariner Date in stainless steel is the most similar to the Sea-Dweller (©Rolex)

The Rolex Sea-Dweller has a new face in 2017: the Reference 126600, an anniversary model for the 50th anniversary of the professional diver’s watch.

Rolex Sea-Dweller front

The Rolex Sea-Dweller 2017 – for the first time it now also features the typical Cyclops loupe at three o’clock (©Rolex)

The differences

One can see at first glance that the Sea-Dweller is more massive than the Submariner. The stainless steel case of the new model was enlarged to 43 mm. Before it was 40 millimeters, which also corresponds to the diameter of the Rolex Submariner case. Its sapphire glass is thicker than that of the Submariner, which makes it a bit more top-heavy when worn. But of course, it also withstands much higher pressure – the Submariner guarantees waterproofness up to a depth of 300 meters, the Sea-Dweller as far as 1,220 meters. And it is the only one to have a helium valve. As already said, as far as dimensions and watertightness are concerned, the Deepsea is out of competition, so to speak… but a detailed comparison will follow below.

Rolex Sea-Dweller front below

Due to the enlargement of the case, the Sea-Dweller is now much more massive than the Submariner (©Rolex)

All three watches feature the extremely scratch-resistant Cerachrom rotating bezel. However, this is provided with continuous minute indices in the Sea-Dweller and Deepsea – in the Submariner the first 15 minutes are continuous, from then on it has 5-minute intervals.

Rolex Submariner ceramic bezel

Only for the Submariner are there bezels in different colors (©Rolex)

And all are equipped with an Oyster wristband and the ingenious Glidelock extension system. The Sea-Dweller adds the Fliplock extension element, which makes an additional 26 mm extension of the wristband possible. The Deepsea also offers a special adjustment option integrated into the clasp.

Rolex Oyster Bracelet Fliplock

The Fliplock extension element of the Sea-Dweller is intended for very thick diving suits (©Rolex)

Rolex Oysterlock Glidelock

With Deepsea, the adjustment can be made directly on the wrist (©Rolex)

The Submariner is powered by the proven Rolex Caliber 3135, which offers a 48 hour power reserve. Sea-Dweller and Deepsea are now both equipped with the Caliber 3235, introduced in 2015, which has a 70 hour power reserve.

Rolex Caliber 3135

The Submariner Date is powered by Caliber 3135 (©Rolex)

Rolex Caliber 3235

The Caliber 3235 of the Sea-Dweller 2017 (©Rolex)

Detailed information about the two Calibers can be found here!

The Rolex Sea-Dweller is available in stainless steel … and that’s it! It is ultimately professional equipment – not that it would not be adequate for a formal dinner – so there’s no need for gold. The Submariner, on the other hand, just fits under the cuff of a shirt and therefore offers a slightly wider variety of materials. They are available in stainless steel, Rolesor yellow, yellow gold and white gold. However, the variant with date display, the Submariner “No Date”, is the only one available in stainless steel only.

Rolex Submariner 114060

The Submariner “No Date” is also the cheapest model of the line, at 6,900 Euros (©Rolex)

Rolex Submariner Date yellow gold 116618LN

The yellow gold version, however, already costs 31,600 Euros (©Rolex)

In terms of price, the Sea-Dweller at 10,450 Euros (Deepsea 11,350 – 11,650 Euros, depending on the dial) is a good deal above the Submariner, which costs 7,850 Euros with the date and as a stainless steel version.

Rolex Sea-Dweller front dark

Significantly more expensive … but also significantly more pressure-resistant (©Rolex)

Basic features


Water-Resistance

Submariner: 300 metres

Sea-Dweller: 1220 metres

Deepsea: 3900 metres


Materials

Submariner: Oystersteel, Oystersteel and yellow gold, yellow gold, white gold

Sea-Dweller / Deepsea: Oystersteel


Dimensions / Weight

Submariner Date, Ref. 116610 LN: Diameter 40,3 mm, Height 12,9 mm, Weight 160 g

Sea-Dweller, Ref.126600: Diameter 43 mm, Height 15,08 mm, Weight 195 g

Deepsea, Ref.126660: Diameter 44 mm, Height 18 mm, Weight 228 g


Movement

Submariner Date, Ref. 116610 LN: Caliber 3135, 48 hour power reserve

Sea-Dweller, Ref.126600: Caliber 3235, 70 hour power reserve

Deepsea, Ref.126660: Caliber 3235, 70 hour power reserve


Best price (Oystersteel version)

Submariner (No Date), Ref. 114060: 6,900Euros

Submariner Date, Ref. 116610 LN: 7,850Euros

Sea-Dweller, Ref.126600: 10,450Euros

Deepsea, Ref.126660: 11,350Euros


Here you can see the three models in direct comparison:

Continuously updated article, originally posted in July 2017.


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