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A Review of the Rolex Sea-Dweller: Info, History, Reference Numbers, and Nicknames

In the 1960s, French commercial diving company COMEX invited Rolex to develop a watch that could accompany their fleet of professional deep-sea divers.

So in 1967, Rolex introduced the 40mm stainless steel Sea-Dweller ref. 1665 “Double Red Sea-Dweller”, outfitted with a helium escape valve, a black bidirectional aluminum bezel, and water resistance of 2,000 feet. That inaugural model is nicknamed the Double Red Sea-Dweller (DRSD) thanks to the two lines of red text on the dial. A decade later in 1977, Rolex unveiled the updated Sea-Dweller ref. 1665 “Great White” and as its nickname suggests, only white text was used on the dial. Both versions ran on Caliber 1575 and included a super domed acrylic crystal without a Cyclops lens over the date window.

Although Rolex continued to produce the ref. 1665 for a few more years, the Sea-Dweller ref. 16660 a.k.a “Triple Six” made its entrance in 1978—so both models were available concurrently for a short time. The Sea-Dweller 16660, included several enhancements, such as increased water resistance to 4,000 feet, a unidirectional bezel for better safety, sapphire crystal, and Caliber 3035 with the quickset date feature.

The next model was the Sea-Dweller ref. 16600 presented in 1988, equipped with solid end-links on the Oyster bracelet and Caliber 3135. Rolex manufactured the Sea-Dweller ref. 16600 for 20 years until it discontinued the entire Sea-Dweller collection in 2008, replacing it with the Deepsea.

Thankfully, the watch returned in 2014 with the Sea-Dweller 4000 ref. 116600, this time sporting a Cerachrom ceramic bezel with full 60-minute markings, blue Chromalight for luminescence, and the Glidelock extension system on the Oyster bracelet.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the model, Rolex launched the current Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 at Baselworld 2017 with a larger 43mm case, Caliber 3235, a Cyclops lens, and the return of the red “SEA-DWELLER” label on the dial.

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