Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000: Not long before arriving at Baselworld 2014, I recall having a conversation with a good friend of mine and I remember us specifically discussing the Rolex Sea-Dweller and how it would be a great investment as Rolex ceased production of the 16600 Sea-Dweller at their Geneva facility. Admittedly, Rolex introduced a replacement, called the Deepsea Sea-Dweller which sports a 43mm case but aesthetically its bulkier case just wasn’t as appealing and I’m sure fans of the Sea-Dweller will attest to this. Fast-forward to 2014 and Rolex have introduced the Sea-Dweller 4000 ref. 116600, which shares a much closer lineage than DSSD, to the original Sea-Dweller. Gone is the bulkier 43mm case and we welcome back the more comfortable 40mm case.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SEA-DWELLER
We’ve never really covered the Rolex Sea-Dweller here, so if you’re not familiar with this timepiece, we shall enlighten you with how it came about. Originally developed in 1967, waterproof to a depth of 610 metres (2,000 ft.) initially and then to, 1,220 metres (4,000 ft.) in 1978, the Sea-Dweller is the wristwatch choice of the pioneer divers of the deep. Of course the Submariner was readily available and could be used by professional divers but at the time it was not capable of dealing with the gruelling deep-sea dives, as watches at these kinds of depths had to face the same long decompression process as the diver would undertake in order to eliminate harmful gases without injury and avoid fatal decompression sickness before returning to the surface.
In 1967 Rolex developed and patented an important innovation: the helium escape valve, which was incorporated into the prototype Sea-Dweller. The valve releases the helium from the watch case as the gas expands during decompression after deep-water saturation dives. It prevents the watch from being damaged but still preserves the water resistance of the watch. This ingenious safety valve, set in the watch case, played a very important role in the development of deep-sea diving. COMEX (Compagnie Martime d’Expertises), a renowned player in the deep-sea diving field, chose the Sea-Dweller as their preferred diving timepiece having worked with other watch manufacturers, in co-developing a professional diving wristwatch (most notably the Omega Seamaster PloProf and you can check out more in-depth information on this timepiece from our watch blogging friends over at Fratellowatches).
THE ROLEX SEA-DWELLER 4000
Rolex have resurrected a professional diving legend, with a brand new updated Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller 4000. As mentioned above the case is back down to the more familiar 40mm in diameter, waterproof to a depth of 1,220 metres (4,000 ft.), 904L stainless steel, the calibre 3135 movement, a titanium helium escape valve and features all the latest Rolex standards of innovation: Cerachrom bezel insert, which is impervious to ultraviolet light; insuring it will not discolour. It also features Chromalight hands and markers, as well as thicker lugs and crown guards. However, the lugs on the Sea-Dweller don’t appear as thick as those on the GMT and Submariner sports watch range. The bracelet also sports the new Oysterlock safety clasp and Rolex Glidelock extension system.
In essence the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 ref. 116600 has returned to its former 16600/16660-design glory. On the wrist it felt a lot lighter than the DSSD, which in itself is a great relief. Though I’ve never owned a 16600 Sea-Dweller it does feel more akin to this model but with the added bonus of having the all-new Rolex tech. It would seem Rolex have actually listened to their faithful followers and fans alike, to produce a timepiece that will be gratefully received and preferred to the DSSD. A lovely little thing that Rolex have also incorporated into the new Sea-Dweller 4000 is the use of a matte dial, which will please many who prefer the vintage dials of the 1665. The only thing I personally would’ve loved to have seen, is the use of a bezel insert minus all of the smaller makers which are visible from 3 o’clock through to 12.
The new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 will cost approximately €8,500 including VAT. More information is available on the official Rolex website.
Live images taken by Bert Buijsrogge of Fratellowatches