It was one of the most talked about watches at Baselworld, the new Rolex Sea-Dweller. Many of these conversations focused on red text and a cyclops, but there is more to the new Sea-Dweller, who just happen also to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year!
Make no mistake: perhaps even more so than the Submariner is the Seadweller always been a product aimed at professionals. The fact that many people loved the look and feel of the watch, even when they would never take advantage of its diving capabilities, turned the watch into a celebrity. It is, however, good to realize that this was never the aim of the Sea-Dweller, and that also goes for the latest model.
Crafted from 904L steel, which is more resistant to corrosion than the more commonly used 316L steel, the case has been enlarged to 43mm. Reason behind this is not so much to cater to current trends, but more so because a larger case means more room for dial and bezel, means that you can increase visibility. That is also the main reason why Rolex fitted the Sea-Dweller for the first time with a cyclops. Although not everybody shares my opinion, I feel that this is an improvement. Reading the date is now much easier, and that is all that matters when it comes to a tool watch. The red name on the dial is a tribute to the very first Sea-Dweller from 1967, and a nice touch on the highly legible dial.
Also in the dark, the time remains legible, thanks to Rolex proprietary “chromalight,” which gives off a strong, bluish hue in low light conditions. The new Sea-Dweller is powered by caliber 3235, which is fitted with the Paramagnetic Parachrom hairspring and Chronergy escapement, of course, certified as a Superlative Chronometer, which means COSC, plus Rolex own certification after the movement is encased in the watch. The unidirectional diving bezel has a ceramic Cerachrom insert, while the bracelet is fitted with both the Oysterlock safety clasp as well as the Rolex Glidelock, which allows the owner to change the size of the bracelet themselves without the use of tools. A Fliplock extension is incorporated as well, allowing divers to easily wear the Sea-Dweller over their diving suit. The watch is priced at $11.350,-, which is reasonable given its extensive features.
Of course is the new Sea-Dweller also fitted with a signature feature of this watch: the helium escape valve. For the Sea-Dweller this particular characteristic is part of its history, as it was originally developed for saturation diving. Developed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it allowed humans to not only dive deeper underwater (without being in a submarine) but also to stay longer. This required also breathing mixes that contained large percentages of helium, as oxygen becomes toxic at that depth. Divers need to get this however out of their system in what they call the decompression phase. Because helium molecules are incredibly small, they also penetrate the watch through its gaskets. Because helium escapes faster from the human body then the case of the watch during decompression, the pressure inside the watch case will build up, and can even pop off the crystal. To prevent this, a valve allows the helium to escape the watch, decompressing the inside of the watch, and ensuring that the pressure is equal to its surroundings. This was one of the features that set the Sea-Dweller apart from all other diving watches when they introduced it half a century ago, and it is still a hallmark that testifies that this Rolex is build with professionals in mind.