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.
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.
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’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.
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.