BASELWORLD 2017:

Rolex Sea-Dweller Resurfaces with Larger Case and New Movement (Updated with Live Pictures)


It’s another big year of anniversaries in the luxury watch world. While Omega marks 60 years of the Speedmaster and Patek Philippe, 40 years of the Aquanaut, Rolex celebrates the half-century mark for its extreme divers’ watch, the Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller, by launching an all-new model, with a larger case and modern caliber, at Baselworld 2017.

Rolex Sea-Dweller - front
The new Rolex Sea-Dweller (above) is an updated version of the original model (below) from 1967.
Rolex Sea-Dweller - 1967

The original Rolex Sea-Dweller, created in 1967, was designed as a resilient and useful tool for professional deep-sea divers of that era. Among its many notable features was a helium escape valve, patented by Rolex that same year, which preserved the watch’s water-resistance while regulating the air pressure accumulated inside its case during the decompression phases of deep-water saturation dives.

Rolex Sea-Dweller - side
A Rolex-patented helium release valve, a famous feature on the vintage model, also appears on the new one.

The case of the new Sea-Dweller is 43 mm in diameter — 3 mm larger than its 40-mm predecessor. The scratch-resistant sapphire crystal over the deep black dial is equipped, for the first time on this model, with a Cyclops lens over the date window at 3 o’clock, enhancing its legibility. The text “Sea-Dweller” appears on the dial in red, echoing the look of the original 1967 model. Finally, the watch is equipped with the new Rolex Caliber 3235, a self-winding movement boasting a number of innovative technical details, some of them patented. This represents the first time Rolex has employed this recently introduced, technically superior movement in one of its “Professional grade” timepiece. Like all new Rolex watches, this Sea-Dweller carries the Superlative Chronometer certification, instituted by Rolex in 2015, which ensures a high level of precision and timekeeping performance (-2/+2 seconds per day).

Rolex Sea-Dweller - angle
The sapphire crystal features a Cyclops lens over the date window – a first for a Sea-Dweller.

Like its most recent predecessors, the new Sea-Dweller is water-resistant to a depth of 1,220 meters (4,000 feet). Its 60-minute graduated, unidirectional, rotating divers’ bezel is fitted with a patented black Cerachrom bezel insert manufactured by Rolex in a virtually scratchproof ceramic whose color is unaffected by ultraviolet rays. The bezel’s graduations are PVD-coated with a thin layer of platinum. The dial’s large hour markers are filled with Chromalight, a Rolex-developed luminescent material that emits a long-lasting blue glow in low-light conditions.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller
The Chromalight inserts in the hands and hour markers glow bright blue in the dark.

The case, with Rolex’s iconic Oyster construction, has a middle piece crafted from a solid block of corrosion- resistant 904L steel; the fluted case back is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only Rolex watchmakers to access the movement. The screw-down crown, protected by a crown guard integrated into the case middle, uses Rolex’s Triplock triple waterproofness system, which ensures secure waterproofness for the watch’s interior in the same manner as a submarine’s hatch.

Rolex Sea-Dweller - Dial CU
The Oyster case of the Sea-Dweller is water-resistant to 1,22o meters, or 4,000 feet.

The new-generation movement secured inside this high-tech case is Caliber 3235, entirely developed and manufactured in-house by Rolex to achieve an elite level of precision, power reserves and shock resistance. It boasts 14 patents, including one for its Chronergy escapement, made from magnetic-resistant nickel phosphorus. The oscillator, which beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph, features a blue Parachrom hairspring (another Rolex patent), which Rolex says is up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring when subjected to shocks. Calibre 3235’s so-called “Perpetual” rotor winds the mainspring in both directions, amassing a power reserve of approximately 70 hours thanks to the movement’s new barrel architecture and the Chronenergy escapement’s superior efficiency.

Rolex Sea-Dweller - profile_1000
The Sea-Dweller’s Oyster bracelet can be extended by up to 26 mm.

The new Sea-Dweller’s solid-link Oyster bracelet, in 904L steel, is fitted with an Oysterlock safety clasp that prevents accidental opening. The bracelet also features a double-extension system that allows adjustments to be made without the use of tools, allowing the watch to be worn comfortably over a diving suit up to 7 mm thick. Rolex’s Fliplock extension link extends the bracelet by 26 mm, while its Glidelock system allows fine adjustment of the bracelet length in 2-mm increments, for a total of approximately 20 mm.

The retail price of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller (Case ref. 12660, Bracelet ref. 97220) is $11,350.

Scroll down to see live pictures taken at Baselworld 2017.

Rolex: new Sea-Dweller Rolex: new Sea-Dweller

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16 Responses to “Rolex Sea-Dweller Resurfaces with Larger Case and New Movement (Updated with Live Pictures)”

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  1. I had owned a 1979 Ref 1680 Red Submariner 660ft=200m and that dial too was NOT jet black but a satin darkest grey/black in tone texture that contrasted well with the solid black of its black aluminium bezel insert.

    Reply
  2. I also prefer the current version judging by the images. No cyclops means less dirt and grime (don’t ask what I do). I’m constantly wiping around the cyclops on my dj.

    Reply
  3. de Jesus Joselito

    Can u email me d foto of d james cameron 2017 sea dweller edition

    Reply
  4. Sean Michael

    I love it!! I own Omegas and Panerais but have always avoided Rolex because they have seemed too small and not very innovative-too old school. This is a perfect blend of vintage and modern technology IMHO. I am a buyer! PS Love the Cyclops!

    Reply
  5. Darren

    But how thick is the case ? thick like Submariner or Deep Sea ?

    Reply
    • I’ve been wondering the same. Looking at these images comparing them to my own DSSD and Sub, it looks like it’s somewhere in between, I’m thinking probably around 15.5mm. I look forward to seeing this model in person. If the thickness and overall size is as I suspect, I will be purchasing one.

      Reply
  6. Andrew Hughes

    Raise your hand if the original seems better proportioned? Compare the size of the bezels and see what you think…

    Reply
  7. Michael nitzani

    Could u recommend the best place to sell a double red 40 years old?

    Reply
  8. The reference is 126600 and not 12660. It comes from the substitution of its predecessor reference’s the 116600, changing the “11” for a “12” indicating the evolution. Previously it was 16600, then the “1” was replaced for the “11” bringing (as all other Rolex references numbers) the five digits to six.

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    • Yes this 2017 Red Sea-Dweller 1220m with cyclops Date is a beauty I imagine. The dial Rolex says is Gloss black but I’m certain it is a Satin Semi-Gloss finish as I have seen and held this 2017 Sea Dweller at my AD and in particular examined the Satin finished black dial close up. It’s not a high gloss finish like on the Submariner, but is in fact a darkest grey at some angles. The cerachrom bezel is a high gloss finish and in contrast the dial is a satin black but like I said has a grey tone which is lovely, and if you saw the earlier discontinued sea dweller that too like the 1967 Red Seadweller sported a deep grey/black satin dial.

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