It’s astounding to see how the design of the Rolex Sea-Dweller has managed to stay relatively the same over the course of 50 years. In fact, if you put the first watch introduced in 1967 side by side with the new Sea-Dweller introduced at Baselworld 2017, you’ll see the same black dial with round, rectangle and triangle hour markers and the same Sea-Dweller logo printed in red. Of course, the 4,000ft or 1,220m waterproof guarantee is now double what the original was but the 2014 Sea-Dweller 4000 had already achieved this. So what’s really new with the 2017 novelty? The bigger case size and the fact that that they have managed to get a cyclops on the crystal.
To the layman the cyclops on a Sea-Dweller may be just something to mention in passing but for fans of the brand, the cyclops on a Sea-Dweller means that Rolex has now perfected the technique of getting this bump on the crystal to withstand the pressure at 4,000ft underwater without popping off. If you didn’t already know, the Rolex cyclops isn’t part of the sapphire crystal but rather affixed onto the outer surface of the glass in a process that isn’t quite clear even to us. And of course this cyclops is an integral part of the Rolex look and so to have it for the very first time on the Sea-Dweller is a very big deal to connoisseurs of the five-point (Rolex) crown.
Moving on from cyclops however, the watch also comes with all the bells and whistles that the Sea-Dweller name brings. Initially created for the sole purpose of being able withstand more pressure than any of their other watches, the Sea-Dweller was the official watch for the elite Comex (Compagnie maritime d’expertises: a company specializing in engineering and deep diving operations) divers but more than that, Rolex also sought to associate itself with the projects to develop underwater dwellings using saturation diving techniques back in the 1960s. These projects could sometimes last for several days, weeks, or even months which explains the introduction of the date on these dive watches.
With the claim of ‘waterproof to 4,000ft’, the helium valve is a necessary feature on the new Sea-Dweller to release the internal pressure build up inside the watch (from helium gas). The case is a larger 43mm (previous versions were 40mm), made with 904L steel, the bezel is made of patented Rolex black Cerachrom and within the case lies the latest-generation calibre 3235 mechanical movement.