For five decades, the Sea-Dweller has been one of Rolex’s toughest tool watches. Equipped with a helium escape valve (HEV) and water resistant to 4,000 feet (1,220 meters), Rolex’s professional saturation diver’s watch was exclusively built in stainless steel. However, earlier this year, the collection took a surprising turn into luxury lane with the new two-tone Rolex Sea-Dweller. Yes, Rolex did make two-tone Deep Sea Specials several decades ago, but those were entirely different beasts altogether. There’s never been a Sea-Dweller with 18k yellow gold details before, so, let’s get a closer look.
The New Rolesor Sea-Dweller 126603
In 2017, the design of the Sea-Dweller was already a point of discussion thanks to its larger case. On the occasion of the Sea-Dweller’s 50th anniversary, Rolex replaced the Sea-Dweller’s familiar 40 mm case size with a brand new bigger 43 mm Oyster case. What’s more, the sapphire crystal on top of the case was now home to the protruding Cyclops magnification lens—a customary addition to most Rolex watches with date windows but never on the Sea-Dweller before. Despite the bigger size and new date bubble, the Sea-Dweller still retained its signature style with its top-to-bottom stainless steel construction and black bezel and black dial combo.
Yet, Rolex had more in store for the Sea-Dweller lineup. At Baselworld 2019, a brand new Rolesor Sea-Dweller ref. 126603 made its debut, all dressed up in stainless steel and yellow gold. Although swankier, this is still a Sea-Dweller. Which is to say, it sports a 43mm Oyster case water resistant to 4,000 feet, a black Cerachrom ceramic unidirectional timing bezel, and a black dial with lume-filled Mercedes-style hands and geometric hour markers. The ceramic bezel insert is now framed by a solid gold knurled edge and features gold-filled markings. The Oyster bracelet is still fitted with a double extension system for an additional 46mm in length, although now the center links are fashioned from 18k yellow gold.
Like its stainless steel counterpart, the new two-tone Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 126603 runs on the Rolex’s Caliber 3235 self-winding movement. This new-generation COSC-certified caliber has an increased power reserve of 70 hours (compared to the 48 hours of the preceding Caliber 3135) and a precision rating of -2/+2 per day.
For those of you who have always liked the look of a two-tone Submariner but found the 40mm size diminutive, the new stainless steel and yellow gold Sea-Dweller slides right in as another option to consider. You may never take this watch diving but it would be right at home cruising the French Riviera or soaking up the sun in South Beach.