Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000
When the Sea-Dweller was discontinued, it would have been considered a safe bet to assume a new version was on its way soon. The Submariner had been updated to the new chunkier style the year before and the GMT-Master II a year before that. The announcement of a Sea-Dweller for the new millennium was what betting types would call a ‘sure thing’.
But we were presented instead with the Deepsea, a forty-four millimetre slice of billet steel and thick crystal, a monster by Rolex standards and a huge divider of opinions. That was six years ago, and only now have Rolex given in and presented hungry watch buyers with what they really wanted all along: a new Sea-Dweller.
And it’s exactly what you’d expect. It’s well made, has a ceramic bezel, a chunkier case, comes with a superb bracelet (that’s not quite as good as its bigger brother’s) and, price-wise, sits dead in the middle of the Submariner and the Deepsea. If the near-£7,000 RRP is no problem for you, it’s a watch that won’t bite you with any nasty surprises, and is sure to carry the rock-solid residuals of its stainless-steel brethren.
There are a few unexpected touches (and by touches I mean the lightest of brushes — this is Rolex after all), such as the satin dial, the gradated minute markers on the bezel and the thicker caseback, all nods to the brand’s diving heritage. There is of course the addition of a helium escape valve (side note: contrary to popular belief, the helium escape valve has nothing to do with a watch’s ability to be submerged in water. The valve simply acts as a release, allowing the build up of helium to expel safely during decompression in a hyperbaric chamber, rather than popping the crystal off) and the removal of the date cyclops, à la the original Sea-Dweller. Water resistance remains untouched at 4,000 feet.
Needless to say, the new Sea-Dweller will perform a lot better for Rolex than the Deepsea did. The Submariner will always be king of the three when it comes to outright sales, but the Sea-Dweller’s name (and more wearable proportions) will draw fans in their thousands. Why Rolex held off making it for so long, we’ll never know — maybe the Deepsea was a toe in the water to evaluate the trend in larger watches. Or perhaps it seemed, to the people at Rolex, like a logical evolution in the Sea-Dweller line.
Whatever the Deepsea was supposed to be, the designers at Rolex still pay their dues to it in the design of the new Sea-Dweller. In among all the historical influences and traditional touches, there’s a nod — albeit a subtle one — to the gentle giant of Rolex. Remember the odd-fitting bracelet end links of the Deepsea that no one could explain? Look at the alignment between the case lugs and the end links on the new Sea-Dweller and tell me what you see.
Watch Spec | Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 116600
Case: Stainless steel Dimensions: 40mm dia Crystal: Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 1,220m Movement: Calibre 3135, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power Reserve: 50 hours Strap: Stainless steel Functions: Time, date, rotating timing bezel, helium escape valve | Shop Now