When the Rolex Sea-Dweller reference 16600 was taken out of production at the Rolex facilities in Geneva, a lot of admirers probably shed a little tear. Rolex announced the Deepsea Sea-Dweller 116660 as the successor of the Sea-Dweller but many fans of the former model(s) just more appealing than the new bulky 43mm Deepsea. I urged the people who had a weak spot for the former people to get one while they still could in a little article (here). In 2009 I wrote “One of the few things that gives me hope, is that they went from reference number 16600 to 116660 instead of using 116600. Will there be a 116600?”. Now in 2014, there is a Sea-Dweller reference 116600. And yes, it is 40mm.

Rolex-Seadweller-002I will not go into detail about the history of the Sea-Dweller as we have written on this watch many times in the past. Instead, we focus on the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 reference 116600. You could say that Rolex came up with the Sea-Dweller in 1971 (but already developed in 1967) as the first diver’s watch for professionals. The Submariner was already there of course, and could also be used by professional divers, but was also more or less a nice sports watch that you could wear when you weren’t getting near any water (except the occasional shower or bath).

The Sea-Dweller was meant for those who also wanted to do deep-sea dives. Rolex came up with the helium escape valve in the 1967 prototype Sea-Dweller models already, which releases the helium from the watch case as the gas expands during decompression after deep-water saturation dives. It prevents the watch from damaging but still preserves the water resistance of the watch. COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises) chose the Sea-Dweller as the instrument for their divers after having worked with several other companies as well to co-develop a professional diver’s watch (an example is the Omega Seamaster PloProf, which was also developed with input from COMEX).


Rolex-Seadweller-003 It seems that the new Sea-Dweller meets the same specifications as the former model, reference 16600. A 40mm case, a titanium helium escape valve, water resistance to 1220 meters (4000 feet), caliber 3135 movement and using 904L stainless steel for the case and bracelet. The major differences are the updates that we also saw on the Rolex Submariner 116610 and GMT-Master II 116710 models and variations: ceramic bezels with Cerachrom inserts, use of Chromalight for hands and hour markers and thicker case lugs. Although the lugs seem to differ per Rolex sports model. The bracelet also changed in recent years. The Sea-Dweller 116600 comes on the well-known Oyster bracelet with Glidelock extension system and a fliplock extension link.

Rolex-Seadweller-006Having owned a Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 for 10 years myself, I was very interested in trying on the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 116600 as the Deepsea Sea-Dweller 116660 did not do it for me. The 43mm case is something I can (easily) handle, but the weight is just not comfortable for me. I felt a big relief when I tried on the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000. A perfect fit – like the former model – and all the new technology that Rolex has put into it is a big bonus.

In terms of looks, it seems to me that Rolex has actually listened to their followers. Many people prefered the old Sea-Dweller models with the matte finish dial compared to the later 16600 (and Deepsea), and now Rolex made sure to have such a dial fitted into the new 116600.

sBmRnRTrying to compare the Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 versus the 116600, I actually felt that I was almost looking at the same watch. There was nothing that should have been differently in my honest opinion. The bezel has become scratch resistant, the bracelet has an easier adjustment system and the watch appears to be a bit bigger due to the lugs (but isn’t). What I didn’t like about the Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 compared to the Sea-Dweller 116600 was how it appeared on the wrist some times. Even though both watches have a 40mm case diameter, the 16600 just appeared to be a bit too small compared to the other Rolex sports models. The beefy lugs fixed that.

Perhaps this is just the perfect modern Rolex sports watch again. No fancy polished center-links like the GMT-Master II and no cyclops as seen on the Submariner Date model. The price? € 8500.- Euro including taxes.

More information can be found here.

  • MikeInFrankfurt

    Ok R-J,

    Can you set the record straight for all of us? Are the lugs and crown guards thinner or different than on the sub c? Damn tough to tell while at Basel.


    • Yes, they are. I didn’t notice at first, but the guys at RolexForums.com explained it properly. The lugs appear to be shorter and therefor appear to be thicker. The Sub C seems to have more squarish lugs and the GMT’s lugs are a bit thicker.

      More useful information can be found here:


  • Vincent@renaissance.nl

    Hi R-J,

    Although I still have to see the watch “live”, your review has convinced me
    for 90% to get one. Although I admire the technical featuresof my DSSD,
    it is not a comfortable watch to wear. This 116600 might solve that problem.

    • Hi Vincent,

      Good to hear. In my honest opinion, the 116600 is the way to go with regards to the new-style Rolex sports watches they have been producing over the last few years. I found it as comfortable on my wrist as my previous 16600 (which I traded for a GMT 1675 with Watch-Site just before Baselworld). If I would be in the game for a new Rolex sports watch, it would be the 116600 without a doubt. The matt dial, absence of a cyclops and appearance of a real ‘tool watch’ definitely convinced me about this one.

      However, don’t rule out the impressive Omega Speedmaster DSotM or Lunar Dust for your collection! Same price (more or less).


  • Meredith hofer

    Thanks for this article to give information about New Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Reference 116600, maybe this is just the perfect modern Rolex sports watch again. No fancy polished center-links like the GMT-Master II and no cyclops as seen on the Submariner Date model.

  • Damocles

    Thank you for the review. Please explain the interest here. There is virtually no difference aesthetically between this and the new sports Submariners. Are there really that many of you who require a helium relief valve. Surgical Enlargement would be a cheaper option.

  • a dellafioea

    why cant you get this watch and how much is it

  • John

    Thank god it doesn’t have the awful inner bezel of the deep sea. I don’t know about size and weight because I didn’t try the deep sea, but getting rid of the awful deep sea inner bezel is reason enough to prefer this 116600.

  • Tom

    Hi all,

    I am actually really pleased to see this new style sea dweller coming up. I am deciding on buying my very first rolex (and very excited about that). I was looking at the deepsea as I didn’t want to get a second hand timepiece, but coming across this delightful news I think I will try them both on my wrist and go from there, although having doubts about the deepsea as it will wear too big (I think) when wearing shirt and tie to work.
    Thanks for the very clear review!



  • Juan R.

    New Sea-Dweller looks good and fits perfectly in the resized sporties-family. From technical point of view, however, not a revolution. In comparison to the DEEPSEA, it might be just the smaller watch with inferior technical attraction. So nothing special – just attractive. With 12’800 ft/3’900 m (in relation to this ability, the watch remains yet “small” (and this is THE art of engineering by ROLEX – even, if the solution (inner ring) might be a “simple” solution, it is the perfect solution), SEL, 43 mm diameter, 5 mm bombastic crystal, the DEEPSEA IS special. Yet, because of the naming (DEEPSEA SEA-DWELLER) and reference, I did not wonder, that the old SD has received a charming successor.
    So, go and compare both watches. The movement itself is (mainly – or totally?) the same. All over and related to the price of both watches, the DEEPSEA is ahead. (-:

  • Juan R.

    Please, could you put in the terminus “21 mm” in front of SEL. (5th line from down). Thank you!!!


  • Juan R.

    Finally: There are actually 4 ROLEX Watches that – technically are unique: SKY-DWELLER, EXPLORER II (116570) with a larger movement (ref. 3187) and, as explained, the DEEPSEA SEA-DWELLER. And, out of competition, as it is not available in the store, the DEEPSEA SEA-DWELLER CHALLENGE

  • Shawn Lor

    Sold my 16600 recently and looking forward for the handsomely reintroduced sea dweller 4000.
    Impressive that Rolex keeping the legendary model alive once more.
    Bravos Rolex
    Nice article ….

    • Toni

      Hi Shawn I had a deep sea is old it I found it to top heavy bought the new sub great watch also got s/s Daytona