The Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller Gets an Upgrade

As per tradition, Rolex generated much of the watch-media buzz at Baselworld 2018, primarily for the release of its new GMT-Master II in a steel case. But that was not the only big news coming out of Rolex this year; fans of the brand’s extreme-depth divers’ watch, the Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Sea-Dweller, were treated to a revamped model with new lugs and bracelet and a new “Superlative Chronometer” movement.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller -soldier
The Rolex Deepsea has been revisited with a new case design, bracelet and movement.

The most recent version of the Rolex Deepsea debuted in 2014. Water-resistant to an astounding 3,900 meters and sporting Rolex’s first “D-Blue” gradient dial, it was a smaller, consumer-friendly version of the specially built Deepsea model that famously became the first watch to descend to a depth of more than 10,000 meters in the Mariana Trench, on an 2012 expedition sponsored by Rolex and the National Geographic Society and manned by filmmaker James Cameron. For the 2018 version, Rolex redesigned the lugs of the 44-mm Oystersteel case for greater comfort and better integration with the new, wider bracelet, while retaining many of the predecessor model’s attributes. Among these are the patented Ringlock case construction that enables the timepiece’s exceptional water resistance, which combines a 5.5-mm-thick sapphire crystal, a nitrogen-alloyed stainless steel ring positioned in the case middle, and a steel and grade-5 titanium caseback; the screw-down Triplock winding crown; and a helium-release valve of the type that Rolex introduced (and patented) for its first Sea-Dweller watch in 1967. The latter device allows excess pressure built up in the watch case to escape during a diver’s decompression in a diving bell, a useful feature for saturation diving.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller - side
The watch’s helium-release valve was patented by Rolex in 1967.

The unidirectional rotating bezel is equipped with a Cerachrom insert made of extra-hard, corrosion-resistant, nearly scratchproof black ceramic. Made in another Rolex-patented process, the insert is unaffected by ultraviolet rays that would otherwise degrade its color over time. The numerals and indices on the bezel’s 60-minute dive-time scale are molded in the ceramic and colored with platinum using a PVD process. The knurled edge of the bezel is designed to provide easy gripping even for a diver wearing thick gloves. The “D-Blue” dial — which features a gradation from deep blue at the top to pitch black at the bottom — is another element that remains from the 2014 version of the Deepsea. The dial’s hands and applied hour markers — made of white-gold, thus adding a subtle touch of the luxurious to this robust and somewhat over-engineered tool watch — have been treated with Rolex’s Chromalight luminescent material, which the brands says offers a longer-lasting luminescence in dark conditions than traditional Super-LumiNova. Like the previous Deepsea, the crystal does not feature the magnifying “Cyclops” lens over the 3 o’clock date window that is found on contemporary editions of the mainline Sea-Dweller.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller - angle
The rotating bezel has a black ceramic Cerachrom insert that is scratchproof and corrosion-resistant.

Rolex’s manufacture Caliber 3235 is used here for the first time in a Deepsea watch. Like all of the company’s in-house movements since 2015, this self-winding movement incorporates the patented Chronergy Escapement, made of magnetism-resistant nickel phosphorus that renders the movement both highly energy efficient and extremely durable. The oscillator uses a blued hairspring made of Parachrom, a Rolex-exclusive paramagnetic alloy, which resists shocks better than a traditional hairspring and thus, according to Rolex, increases the timekeeping precision by a factor of 10. The movement’s improved barrel architecture allows for a power reserve of 70 hours when the watch is fully wound. The caliber has, like all Rolex in-house movements, weathered the battery of tests to earn Rolex’s “Superlative Chronometer” designation, whose criteria were updated in 2015 to be more than twice as stringent as those required for the more widely used COSC certification — in other words, precision between -2/+2 seconds per day.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller - lume
The Deepsea’s hands and indices are treated with long-lasting, highly luminescent Chromalight.

Last but not least, Rolex has equipped this professional-grade divers’ watch with a new, broader, satin-finished Oystersteel bracelet that is fitted with an Oysterlock safety clasp. The clasp prevents accidental opening and includes a double-extension system — with the Glidelock functionality that allows the wearer to adjust the bracelet length in 2-mm increments up to an additional 20 mm, as well as an additional Fliplock extension link that permits an additional bracelet extension of 26 mm — an asset to an owner who wants to wear the watch over his diving gloves. The Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller with D-Blue dial will retail for $12,550; an additional model with a black dial is priced at $12,250. What are your thoughts on Rolex’s latest update to its classic professional diver’s watch? Let us know in the comments below.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller - clasp
The Deepsea’s bracelet clasp features a double-extension system.
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  1. Juan Carlos Lara

    It is an exceptional watch, very beautiful with the blue to black dial and the green letters DEEPSEA, the caliber 3235 is an extraordinary innovation to the model. It is one of the best of Rolex.

  2. Bowe Hunter

    As the former owner of a 12K Deep Sea, I was incredibly disappointed when after 6 years, the acclaimed Rolex 3135 chrono calibre suddenly crapped out, stopped, then lost time, and cost me 1K no less to have Rolex service the damn thing. Sold it right away and now sport the Seiko MM 1000m Hi-Beat LE – which to be honest, sports a vastly superior movement to anything Rolex produces!!! Nor does Seiko care about the COSC BS!!! So much for Rollie’s officially certified chrono! No wonder they changed out the movement!

  3. Mark Bowman

    Great watch definitely want one. Unfortunately there not available through Rolex dealers, with waiting lists of several years. Lift your game Rolex!!!

      • Whitney J Broussard

        I am a VIP with my local dealer having bought many watches over 30 years. It took 3 weeks to get one after I called. He did pull a few strings as he is a big dealer.
        So it’s possible to depending on the circumstances.

  4. Sukanta Chakravorty

    Just owned this one. Each and every words described here match the machine. Amazing feeling aqfcter wearing it.

  5. Hannibal

    Rolex is my long time dream watch and it’s the best brand watch of all time and this new sea dweller proves that rolex never stops improving.

  6. HooYah

    As a retired Sat Diver, I’ve long cherished my first submariner that was passed on to my son and replaced with a new one. This watch however is too hard to resist. Just ordered one today from my local Rolex dealer.

  7. Chris

    A bridge too far. Stick with the regular Sea Dweller. Or even the Sub.

  8. Very well done the upgraded rolex deepsea sea-dweller. But i cannot own it for the cost.

  9. Steve Schraibman

    A well written and descriptive article of one of my favorite watches. I love wearing my blue to black Deap SeA with its little green script. I’m lucky as at 6’ 5” I can carry off the 1/2 lb. diver’s weight

  10. Brian Smith

    Having owned and used my Sea-Dweller since 2015 I am very pleased with it wether working or relaxing its a fine time piece and has never let me down, I look forward to inspecting the new version.

  11. George Speace

    I own 5 Rolexes, including a 2012 Deepsea-but I haven’t worn any of them, instead, my daily wear watch is a Ball Chronometer GMT mainly because I find that I cannot do without being able to see the time at night. None of the lumenrscent coatings last more than 20-30 minutes. The Tritium tubes which Ball places on the hands and hour markers never fail and are good for many years. I think Rolex makes the best watches in the world and for the life of me I cannot understand why they haven’t embraced this technology at least for their Sport watches like the Deepsea. With Tritium Rolex would have the most perfect watches in the Universe. GS

    • Appreciate the comment…I considered this watch in 2014 to replace a Panerai 024 as a daily piece. I chose a hublot Big Bang which didn’t work out. I have been wearing an AP diver since 2015 and have been considering going back to the Panerai for two reasons, one being seeing the time clearly in the dark…. This is still a beautiful piece regardless

    • Chris

      You should be able to see the Rolex dial all night provided you charge it up first with a torch. As for tritium dudes, rather ugly, plus they’ll lose half their brightness after 12 years. No reason why Rolex lume should deteriorate.

  12. Roger Cazden

    I’d guess this watch is too expensive for 85% of your readers. Gorgeous diver however.

  13. A. Jordan

    Having been an owner of both a GMT Master and Submariner models it’s good to see that Rolex are pursuing a policy of gradual but continuous development within their product range.

    This model gets my vote as a first class precision engineered timepiece. Lovely dial colouring!.

  14. De’Andre King Sr

    What a great looking watch and I can’t wait too get one. I’m a big guy and most of the Rolex’s are look to small on my wrist. This watch will look good on my wrist. I’ve tried on one a couple of years ago and I have to say, what a good looking watch.

  15. Beautiful, and I’m glad they enlarged the bracelet. (But I still want a single red)

  16. Debashish

    This is truly a super-watch created by Rolex.

    Though this is quite expensive, I am certain that this Rolex would be on the wish-list of a large number of watch lovers throughout the world.

  17. k.S.Narayana Iyer

    Near perfect mechanical watch.I am a user and admirer of the brand.

  18. @time_and_cars

    one of the most amazing watch thay rolex make. i love this model (to be honest the previous generation) but overall this is an master piece no matter what.
    great report

  19. Thomas F

    When you say it has a larger bracket, could you quantify how much larger?

      • While the bracelet is only 1mm larger, it is very visible due to the new lug to braclet taper. The watch no longer has that weightlifter with skinny legs look.

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