Deep Dive Redux: Testing the Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000After a six-year hiatus, Rolex resurrected the Sea-Dweller last year in a new, improved version, dubbed the Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000. We give it the WatchTime once-over in this test feature with stunning original photography by Marcus Krüger.

The Rolex Sea-Dweller debuted in 1967 as the Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000. It was styled after the Rolex Submariner, which had been introduced in 1953, but the Sea-Dweller had a thicker case and a helium-escape valve. At the time, it was notable for its 2,000-foot (600-meter) water resistance. The Sea-Dweller ultimately reached a 4,000-foot (1,220-meter) depth rating before it was replaced in 2008 with the Deepsea, which is rated to 3,900 meters. Last year, due to popular request, Rolex brought the Sea-Dweller 4000 back, adding a few new features. At 15.1 mm thick, it occupies a middle ground between the 18-mm-thick Deepsea and the more streamlined, 12.5-mm-thick Submariner, which is water resistant to 300 meters.

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 - front

Even though its basic design is more than 60 years old, the watch still looks modern. One reason is its new bezel. It has a high-tech ceramic insert which is scratch resistant, an improvement over the easily marred aluminum bezel insert used on its predecessor. The bezel turns smoothly, passing through the notches in half-minute increments, making a pleasant clicking sound like the combination lock on a safe. It is easy to grasp, thanks to its serrated outer edge. Its indexes and numerals are filled with platinum dust, a luxurious detail that complements the dial’s costly white-gold hands and markers.

The watch’s Glidelock clasp is another upgrade. Sturdy and easy to operate, it enables the wearer to lengthen the bracelet in 2-mm increments, up to a total of 20 mm. It’s useful on hot days when you welcome a little more air between the bracelet and your wrist, or when you’re playing sports and your wrist swells. A safety bail with an easily lifted opening rocker prevents the clasp from opening when you don’t want it to. A Fliplock extension mechanism lets the wearer add another 26 mm to the bracelet’s length, so it can fit easily over the sleeve of a diving suit. The Sea-Dweller shares this feature with the Deepsea, but not with the Submariner. The bracelet is supple and comfortable on the wrist. The sides of the bracelet and clasp are polished, while the upper surfaces are satin finished. The same combination of polished and satin finishes is used on the watch’s case. The Sea-Dweller, like the Deepsea, is equipped with a screw-in, Triplock crown with five insulators to keep moisture out of the case. It is easy to grasp. The case is made of 904L steel, which is resistant to saltwater corrosion. The case- back is smooth, as is the inner surface of the clasp, contributing to the watch’s wearing comfort.

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 - back
Rolex Caliber 3135’s embellishments are only visible when the solid caseback is removed.

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  1. Uber-comfortable, sturdy and updated the Rolex Sea-Dweller 116600 is a worthy successor to the previous references of the most important diving watch ever. Good job Rolex.

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