Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea: At Home Underwater
The Sea-Dweller Deepsea is Rolex's most impressive diving watch. Water-resistant to 3,900 m (39 bar, 12,800 ft), the Deepsea is definitely a watch for diving pros. Investors take note: this timepiece also appreciates in value.
Water-Resistant to 12,800 ft with the Ringlock system
Rolex has a long tradition of producing superb diving watches. Among them, the Sea-Dweller Deepsea is the Genevan manufacturer's most impressive model. Released in 2008, this 44-mm stainless steel watch is water-resistant to an impressive 3,900 m (390 bar, 12,800 ft). This far exceeds the capabilities of the standard Rolex Sea-Dweller, which has a depth rating of 1,220 m (122 bar, 4,000 ft).
The depth rating is made possible thanks to a special case construction Rolex calls the Ringlock system. Rolex tests each watch in a pressurized container developed by French company COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises) to guarantee that every Deepsea can cope with the extreme conditions experienced deep beneath the waves.
An automatic helium escape valve on the left side of the case is a necessary feature for saturation diving and underscores the Deepsea's professional nature. What's more, each movement comes with chronometer certification from the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). These movements are especially precise and deviate from the reference time by no more than +/-2 seconds per day. The collection's top model is the D-Blue edition, which features a blue-to-black gradient dial and is highly popular among collectors.
All four Deepsea references have significantly increased in value in recent years. The Deepsea D-Blue ref. 116660 has performed particularly well, appreciating more than 40% between June 2020 and June 2022. Overall, the Deepsea line has proven its appeal to enthusiasts who value a good investment as much as a Rolex watch.
Reasons to Buy a Rolex Deepsea
- Impressive water resistance to 3,900 m (390 bar, 12,800 ft)
- Good prospects in terms of value appreciation
- COSC-certified chronometer caliber for the highest precision
- Extra luminous Chromalight on the hands and indices
- Coveted Deepsea D-Blue model with blue-to-black gradient dial
Prices at a Glance: Sea-Dweller Deepsea
|Model, reference number||Value appreciation*, price (approx.)||Dial color, caliber|
|Deepsea D-Blue, 116660||+42%, 20,000 USD||Blue, 3135|
|Deepsea, 126660||+32%, 16,500 USD||Black, 3235|
|Deepsea D-Blue, 126660||+25%, 19,000 USD||Blue, 3235|
|Deepsea, 116660||+23%, 16,500 USD||Black, 3135|
|*between May 2020 and May 2022|
How much does a Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea cost?
The first-generation Sea-Dweller Deepsea bears the reference number 116660. A new model with a black dial now costs about 16,500 USD. That marks a 30% increase between June 2020 and June 2022.
Those who prefer the D-Blue edition with a blue-to-black gradient dial can expect to spend roughly 20,000 USD for a watch in mint condition. With a price increase of more than 40%, this model has appreciated in value more than any other in the line.
Rolex introduced a new version of the Deepsea in spring 2018. These watches have the reference number 126660 and come with the new caliber 3235. As with its predecessor, this Deepsea is available with a plain black dial or a D-Blue gradient dial. The former changes hands on Chrono24 for approximately 14,000 to 15,000 USD new – an increase of 2,000 to 3,000 USD since June 2020. A ref. 126660 with a D-Blue dial costs upwards of 17,000 USD.
The Design and Technology of the Deepsea
The Sea-Dweller Deepsea can survive at depths to 3,900 m (390 bar, 12,800 ft). This is possible thanks to what Rolex calls the Ringlock system. The watch features a nitrogen-alloyed stainless steel ring at its center, lending the 44-mm 904L stainless steel case its exceptional stability. Combined with a grade-5 titanium case back and 5.5-mm thick sapphire crystal without a Cyclops lens, this watch can withstand three tons of water pressure.
Rolex offers the Sea-Dweller Deepsea in two basic designs. The standard edition has a black dial and a date display at 3 o'clock. There is a white "Deepsea" inscription directly below the brand inscription and the words "Oyster Perpetual Date" at 12 o'clock. The water resistance "12800ft = 3900m," the model name "Sea-Dweller," and its chronometer inscription all sit above 6 o'clock. Finally, the dial's stainless steel edge includes the engravings "Original Gas Escape Valve" and "Ring Lock System."
The Deepsea has a screw-down crown, helium escape valve, and black unidirectional Cerachrom bezel with platinum-coated 60-minute markers. It also comes with a typical Rolex stainless steel Oyster bracelet, which is easy to adjust thanks to its Oysterlock fold-over clasp and practical Glidelock and Fliplock extension systems. Glidelock makes it possible to lengthen the bracelet up to 20 mm in 2-mm increments. Fliplock, on the other hand, allows the bracelet to be lengthened by 26 mm all at once.
The second option is the Deepsea D-Blue. This model differs from the standard model primarily in its dial – even the reference numbers are the same. As indicated by its name, Rolex chose a dial with a gradient that goes from dark blue to black. The only other difference is the relocation of the "Deepsea" inscription to above 6 o'clock, where it shines in bright green. Since Rolex developed this watch in honor of Hollywood legend and "Titanic" director James Cameron's dive into the Mariana Trench, Rolex fans have given it the nickname "Cameron."
The Deepsea's In-House Calibers
Rolex released the second generation of Sea-Dweller Deepsea watches in 2018. These models bear the reference number 126660 and share much of their design with their predecessor, the ref. 116660. The only difference is that the current edition has thinner lugs and case sides.
Perhaps the most significant change took place inside the case. While the ref. 116660 uses the caliber 3135, the ref. 126660 features the caliber 3235. Both movements are certified Superlative Chronometers, tick at 28,800 vibrations per hour (vph), and feature a blue Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock protection system. However, the 3235 far exceeds its predecessor in terms of power reserve. Thanks to its Chronergy escapement and longer mainspring, this movement can continue to run for 70 hours when fully wound.
The History of the Rolex Deepsea
The history of the Rolex Deepsea began back in 1960, when marine researchers Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh dove roughly 11,000 m (36,089 ft) into the Mariana Trench in their bathyscaphe, the "Trieste." Rolex had developed the experimental Deep Sea Special specifically for this occasion. The watch was attached to the outside of the submersible and survived the dive completely unscathed. Many of the findings from this experiment later aided in the development of the Rolex Submariner and Sea-Dweller diving watches, which ultimately led to the Rolex Deepsea.
On March 26, 2012, Rolex sent yet another watch into the depths of the Mariana Trench. This time it was on the arm of the Deepsea Challenger submarine piloted by Hollywood director James Cameron. The watch, known as the Deepsea Challenge, was enormous at 51.4 mm in diameter and 28.5 mm thick. The sapphire crystal alone accounted for 14.3 mm. The Deepsea Challenge followed in the footsteps of its ancestor from 52 years prior and withstood the trip to the deepest point on Earth without any problems. Unfortunately, this watch is not for sale.