I kid you not, the sharks are already trying to charge you nearly €20,000 for the new Rolex Submariner. The new Rolex diver didn’t solve the ongoing issue of dealers taking abuse. It’s not necessarily the fault of grey market dealers, because remember, these watches have to come from somewhere. Luckily, there is a fine alternative hiding in plain sight: the Rolex Sea-Dweller.

Anyway, without starting a rant about ridiculous market prices for the new Rolex Submariner watches, I thought about the Rolex models that you can actually buy. For an amount close to the retail price of the new Submariner, you could pick up the very handsome Sea-Dweller. The Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 is the first Rolex I bought, back in 2003. In my opinion, the downside of the Sea-Dweller is how comfortable it is (or isn’t) on the wrist.

Rolex Sea-Dweller

Somehow, the Rolex Sea-Dweller is a bit underrated compared to the Submariner. And yet it has more to offer. It has better water resistance and an automatic helium valve (whether you use it or not, is another thing), all while being an attractively priced alternative to the new Submariner. I selected 3 different Rolex Sea-Dwellers that can be had for way less than the market prices of the new Submariner models.

Sea-Dweller 16600

Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 (€7,100)

Let me start with the same reference I used to have, the 16600. This Sea-Dweller was the first reference to use Super-LumiNova. If you want the 16600 with tritium, look for a model that dates back to 1996 or before. This particular offer is produced in 1997 and the seller offers it with the original box and papers. This is the last Sea-Dweller without the ceramic bezel and was discontinued in 2009. This “neo-vintage” Sea-Dweller is a very nice daily beater for sure. It also has a price tag far below that of the new Submariner models. Click here for the offer on this 16600.

Sea-Dweller 116600

Rolex Sea-Dweller 116600 (€10,075)

This one is not exactly cheap, but it is also a more modern watch than its predecessor. A Cerachrom bezel, an updated version of the movement, and a new (and improved) bracelet. This particular Sea-Dweller was only in production from 2014 till 2017. To me, that makes it a bit special. But apparently the masses disagree. This watch does not have its original papers, but if you want a rugged and versatile go-to watch, this might be a perfect candidate. This one is offered by a dealer in the United States and comes with a one year warranty. Click here for the offer on this 116600.

Sea-Dweller 116660

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller 116660 (€8,695)

This remains a bit of an odd watch, in my opinion. Then again, the same can be said for watches like the Seamaster PloProf 1200M, for example. There’s a market for these, but apparently not a big one. The Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller was introduced in 2008 and marketed as an even more professional divers’ watch. With a depth-rate of 3,900 meters, there’s no joking around with the Deepsea.

Compared to the normal Sea-Dweller at the time — the reference 16600 — but also with today’s Sea-Dweller models, this is quite a chunk of steel. It measures a whopping 44mm across. But not only that: it is also thick and heavy! Many of you didn’t like the “original gas escape valve” and “ring lock system” text on the rehaut, but on the wrist, it is somehow less present than in pictures. No box or papers, but the price reflects that. Click here for the offer on this 116660.

Of course, if you want a Submariner — whether that’s the new one or the old one — the Sea-Dweller might not be exactly what you’re looking for. But especially the 116600, comes relatively close to the modern Submariner in terms of looks and specifications.

Happy hunting!