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FINE ACCESSORIES

Professional under water: The Rolex Sea-Dweller

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Running 1,000 meters takes a little more than ten minutes, if you take it easy. A dive at a depth of 1,000 meters, on the other hand, is much more time-consuming and cannot be done without professional equipment. A diving bell makes it possible to reach this depth. Professional divers trust dive computers as timekeepers, and they have trusted the Rolex Sea-Dweller for more than 50 years. The most professional of all diving watches from the Rolex range has been around for half a century, the latest model with the reference 126600 was only presented at Baselworld 2017 and is already in demand. What is new is the return to the red "Sea-Dweller" lettering, and for the first time in the history of this model, the Sea-Dweller now has a detail that was denied it for five decades: the magnifying glass above the date display.


The maximum diving depth for this watch is 1,220 meters - a person can only penetrate to this extreme depth in a diving bell. The breathing air in these diving devices is enriched with helium. The volatile gas slips through the usual seals of a watch into the case and would burst the crystal out of the watch and cause serious damage if it were to emerge. Because professional divers in the oil and gas industry live in a pressure vessel underwater for up to a month, quite a bit of helium builds up in the watch as the divers breathe the enriched air 24 hours a day. To that end, a professional watch like the Sea-Dweller must have a helium escape valve that allows gas to safely escape from the case, but also prevents leakage. Therefore, unlike Omega, for example, Rolex uses an automatically functioning helium valve.


The history of the Sea-Dweller - which translates to sea creatures - is closely linked to the French company Comex. The specialists specialize in high-risk diving missions, and the employed professional divers are among the best in the world. In the 1960s, these divers needed a watch that was perfectly legible and unconditionally reliable - above water, under water and also in diving bells. All of this applied almost entirely to the Submariner presented by Rolex in 1953. For Comex and the use in the diving bell, some Submariners were equipped with a helium valve in the early 1960s, which could automatically reduce the overpressure in the case. In 1967, Rolex presented the reference 1665: diving to a depth of 610 meters and one of the most sought-after jewels in the Rolex sports model range. The watch is marked Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000 in red on the dial. The number 2000 stands for the maximum achievable diving depth.


Since 1992, Comex divers have received the Sea-Dweller 4000 with the reference 16600, which was introduced in 1988. The thick sapphire glass, to ensure the enormous pressure resistance of the case down to a depth of 1,220 meters, makes the watch a bit more top-heavy than the Submariners.

Introduced in 2008, the Sea-Dweller Deepsea Ref. 116660 is water resistant to a depth of 3,900 meters, a step further into the depths of the ocean. In addition to the model with a black dial, the Deepsea is now also available with a black-blue gradient. The domed sapphire crystal is 5.5 millimeters thick and its shape, like the name of the watch, is reminiscent of the 1960 experiment in which Jacques Piccard mounted a Submariner Deep Sea Special to the outer skin of his submersible Trieste and immersed it in the Mariana Trench at a depth of 10,916 meters dives.


Six years later, the classic Sea-Dweller 4000 reappears. Equipped with the new Cerachrom bezel, a water resistance of 1,220 meters and a diameter of 40 mm, the model follows the Sea Dweller tradition.In the anniversary year 2017, the desirability increases again, despite the date magnifying glass and because of the model lettering in red. The new reference 126600 pays homage to the past - and cements the classic status of the Sea-Dweller.

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