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Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea
Rolex Sea-Dweller (from 2017)
Rolex Sea-Dweller (1989-2017)
Rolex Sea-Dweller (up to 1989)
Rolex Sea-Dweller Double Red
Rolex The Latest Sea-Dweller Releases
Rolex Sea-Dweller: At Home Underwater
The Sea-Dweller is Rolex's professional diving watch. It can withstand depths of over 1,200 m (4,000 ft) and has a helium escape valve to equalize pressure. Many models have recorded excellent value appreciation in recent years.
Robust Professional Diving Watch
The Sea-Dweller is one of the most robust Rolex watches. The Genevan company first released this timepiece in 1967 as an evolution of the Submariner, which had debuted 14 years prior. Unlike its close relative, however, the Sea-Dweller can dive to 1,220 m (122 bar, 4,000 ft) and is suitable for professional saturation diving thanks to its helium escape valve. The Sea-Dweller Deepsea is even more impressive. It is water-resistant to 3,900 m (390 bar, 12,800 ft).
In late 2022, Rolex introduced the Deepsea Challenge, a Sea-Dweller that is water-resistant to a whopping 11,000 m (1,100 bar, 36,090 ft). Its 50-mm diameter also makes it the largest watch in the Rolex catalog.
For decades, the Sea-Dweller was only available in stainless steel. But in 2019, Rolex expanded the collection with a two-tone model in stainless steel and yellow gold. At the same time, they added a Cyclops lens above the date display. There had never been a Sea-Dweller with a magnifying lens up to that point. The Deepsea Challenge, on the other hand, is the first Sea-Dweller made of titanium and also the first watch ever made by Rolex from this material.
Like almost all Rolex watches, Sea-Dweller models experienced exorbitant price increases in recent years, particularly between 2020 and early 2022. In the spring of 2022, however, prices fell, in some cases drastically, to more realistic levels. Nevertheless, the value retention of Sea-Dwellers is excellent, provided the purchase was not made at the price peak.
Reasons to Buy a Rolex Sea-Dweller
- A professional diving watch with a helium escape valve
- Sea-Dweller Deepsea Challenge: water-resistant to 11,000 m (1,100 bar, 36,090 ft)
- Automatic in-house caliber with COSC certification
- Available in stainless steel, titanium, and two-tone editions
Prices for the Rolex Sea-Dweller
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Size, caliber|
|Triple 6, 16660||12,400 USD||40 mm, 3035|
|Deepsea, 116660||12,400 USD||44 mm, 3135|
|50th Anniversary, 126600||15,700 USD||43 mm, 3235|
|Deepsea, 126660||15,900 USD||44 mm, 3235|
|Deepsea D-Blue, 126660||17,300 USD||44 mm, 3235|
|Deepsea D-Blue, 116660||17,800 USD||44 mm, 4135|
|4000, 116600||19,000 USD||40 mm, 3135|
|16600||19,000 USD||40 mm, 3135|
|Rolesor, 126603||20,000 USD||43 mm, 3235|
|Double Red, 1665||33,200 USD||40 mm, 1570|
|Deepsea, 126067||41,100 USD||50 mm, 3230|
How much does a Rolex Sea-Dweller cost?
If you're interested in owning a Sea-Dweller, you should be prepared to spend at least 12,400 USD. That amount will get you an unworn Sea-Dweller 4000, which was produced between 2014 and 2017. The ref. 126600 is the current model and cost roughly 15,700 USD in April 2023, while the two-tone ref. 126603 cost approximately 15,700 USD. Although the list price for the Sea-Dweller Deepsea Challenge was 26,000 USD at the beginning of 2023, you should expect a market price of around 41,000 USD.
Prices for older Sea-Dweller models range from around 12,400 USD for the ref. 16660 to upwards of 37,000 USD for a Double Red 1665.
About the Sea-Dweller
Rolex offers the Sea-Dweller in two variations. The first is the standard edition ref. 126600 with a 43-mm stainless steel case, black dial, and black Cerachrom diving bezel inlay. The other variant is the two-tone Rolesor ref. 126603.
Both versions share the in-house caliber 3235, a helium escape valve on the left side of their cases, water-resistance to 1,220 m (122 bar, 4,000 ft), and a sapphire crystal. They are also the first Sea-Dwellers to feature Rolex's distinctive Cyclops lens above their date displays.
A Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 in mint condition changes hands for roughly 15,700 USD on Chrono24.
The two-tone Rolesor ref. 126603 demands an investment of about 20,000 USD new. That's an appreciation of approximately 12.5% over its original list price.
Strong Performance: The Sea-Dweller 4000
The ref. 126600 is the direct descendant of the Sea-Dweller 4000 ref. 116600, which Rolex produced from 2014 to 2018. The older model lacks a Cyclops lens, is only 40 mm in diameter, and uses the caliber 3135. However, its water resistance, helium escape valve, and basic design are identical to that of its successor.
Prices for the Sea-Dweller 4000 have risen significantly since Rolex retired this model. The same watch that cost less than 7,100 USD at its introduction in 2014 would have set you back about 10,000 USD shortly before it was discontinued in 2018. Between April 2021 and April 2023, this Rolex watch appreciated by over 24%, costing more than 19,000 USD at the time of writing.
Sea-Dweller 16660 Triple Six
The financial performance of ref. 16600's predecessor, the ref. 16660 or "Triple Six," tells a different story. Unlike the newer model, the Triple Six is powered by the caliber 3035 and uses a tritium-based luminous material. As of April 2023, specimens in mint condition are roughly 2,000 USD less expensive than in 2020. If you want to call one of these Sea-Dwellers your own, be prepared to shell out about 12,400 USD.
Sea-Dweller 16600: Increase of 25%
Many fans consider the ref. 16600 the ultimate Sea-Dweller. This model debuted in 1989 and remained in Rolex's catalog until the manufacturer replaced it with the Deepsea in 2008. The Sea-Dweller ref. 16600 has a lot in common with the Sea-Dweller 4000. Both are 40 mm in diameter, water-resistant to 1,220 m (122 bar, 4,000 ft), have a helium escape valve, and feature a sapphire crystal with no Cyclops lens. They also share the caliber 3135. The main difference between these two timepieces is their bezel inlay. While the ref. 16600 has an aluminum inlay, the Sea-Dweller 4000's inlay is made of Rolex's proprietary Cerachrom ceramic.
The Sea-Dweller ref. 16600 has performed well in recent years in terms of market value. In April 2023, unworn pieces required an investment of well over 18,000 USD. This represents an appreciation of 25% since April 2021.
How much does a vintage Sea-Dweller cost?
Early models from the 1960s and 1970s are some of the most highly-coveted vintage Rolex Sea-Dwellers. The ref. 1665 "Double Red", with its black dial and red "Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000" inscription across two lines, is in particularly high demand. It features a 40-mm stainless steel case with a helium escape valve at 9 o'clock and offers water resistance to 610 m (61 bar, 2,000 ft). Like other watches from this era, Plexiglass protects the dial from the elements. You'll find the caliber 1570 inside the case. The "Double Red" is quite a rare find, with pre-owned timepieces in good condition changing hands for more than 30,000 USD as of April 2023. Compared to other Rolex watches, this watch experienced a more moderate price increase of around 2,000 USD.
You can save a few thousand dollars by opting for the "Great White" ref. 1665, which was released in 1977. From a technical standpoint, this watch is identical to the Double Red; however, its inscription is in white instead of red and reads "Sea-Dweller 2000ft=610m." Prices for well-maintained "Great White" watches start at around 14,000 USD, but can exceed 40,000 USD in some cases.
Sea-Dweller Deepsea: Water-Resistant to 3,900 m (12,800 ft)
At 44 mm in diameter, the Sea-Dweller Deepsea is one of Rolex's heftiest watches. It was first released in 2008 and bears the reference number 116660. The bigger size serves a purpose, as Rolex improved the water rating to 3,990 m (399 bar, 13,090 ft). The caliber 3135 ensures the watch's high level of precision. Mint-condition Deepsea ref. 116660 watches with a black dial change hands on Chrono24 for roughly 12,400 USD.
Rolex launched the Deepsea ref. 116660 D-Blue edition in 2014. This timepiece pays tribute to director James Cameron and his 2012 journey some 10,908 m (35,787 ft) into the Mariana Trench. Also known as the "Deepsea Blue," what sets the D-Blue model apart is its blue-to-black gradient dial and green "Deepsea" inscription. Otherwise, this watch is identical to its solid black counterpart. The price point for a D-Blue ref. 116660 sits at approximately 17,300 USD.
Rolex updated both the black and blue Deepsea editions in 2018. These new timepieces bear the reference number 126660 and feature the more modern caliber 3235. The black ref. 126660 costs about 15,700 USD in mint condition, while the version with a D-Blue dial sells for around 17,300 USD.
Deepsea Challenge: Water-Resistant to 11,000 m
In November 2022, Rolex unveiled a titanium Sea-Dweller, the Deepsea Challenge ref. 126067. The 50-mm watch is water-resistant to an impressive 11,000 m (1,100 bar, 36,090 ft). With this depth rating, the Deepsea Challenge easily outshines even the Omega Planet Ocean Ultra Deep, which is water-resistant to a "mere" 6,000 m (600 bar, 19,685 ft).
The watch dates back to a prototype from 2012, when American film director James Cameron took his submersible to a depth of around 11,000 m (35,787 ft) into the Mariana Trench with a predecessor of the current Deepsea Challenge attached to the hull.
Despite its imposing diameter and height of 23 mm, the Deepsea Challenge weighs a mere 250 grams. The Rolex in-house caliber 3230 sets the pace in this watch, boasting a power reserve of 70 hours.
The list price for this model is 26,000 USD, but because the watch is so hard to come by, prices on the secondary market are significantly higher. In April 2023, specimens in mint condition changed hands on Chrono24 for over 40,000 USD.
Helium Escape Valve for Longer Dives
The Rolex Sea-Dweller comes with an extra feature that's necessary for long periods underwater: a helium escape valve. Saturation divers breathe a special air mixture that includes helium. Since they are so small, the helium molecules can easily slip past the watch's seals and fill the space inside the case. Problems arise during decompression since the helium atoms cannot exit fast enough as they start to expand. This can cause the crystal to pop out. To prevent this, Rolex invented the helium escape valve, which equalizes pressure.
Inspired by the Submariner
The origins of the Rolex Sea-Dweller are closely tied to the company COMEX. The expansion of offshore oil drilling in the 1960s created new jobs for divers, who were needed to construct offshore platforms and pipelines. These jobs required the divers and their watches to dive deeper and deeper.
The Compagnie Maritime d'Expertises (COMEX) has specialized in these types of underwater missions since 1961. Rolex provided COMEX with a Submariner (ref. 5513), the first watch to feature a helium escape valve. You can recognize this Submariner by the "COMEX" inscription on its dial. Today, these watches are valued at between 50,000 and well over 100,000 USD. Particularly well-maintained pieces in full sets with other rare accessories, such as original diving records, can even cost up to 200,000 USD.