catalogo orologi


rolex sea dweller
The Sea-Dweller’s story has its beginnings at the bottom of the sea, as its name would suggest. The particular merit for the conception of this model lies with COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises), a French company specialising in undersea engineering and hyperbaric technology.
Initially the company’s frogmen wore the Submariner ref. 5513, waterproof to 200 metres; but subsequently, as they relied more and more on technical instruments, their needs changed. To avoid the creation of embolisms at great depth, special decompression chambers are fitted and underwater operators, supplied with an artificial mix of oxygen and helium, reach maximum depths using a diving bell able to maintain the pressure of the decompression chamber. Thus, in order to avoid the crystal of the watch being shattered by a build-up of helium glass inside the mechanism, the company created a special solution for the particular needs of COMEX. Certain Submariner ref. 5513 models started to carry a small valve made up of a unidirectional spring-loaded piston sealed by an O-ring gasket.
When the watch descends to great depths, the seal is kept in place by water that pushes the piston against the gasket; whilst during the ascent to the surface the mounting pressure from the helium inside the watch causes the valve to open and the gas to escape.
COMEX, satisfied with the Rolex patent, requested a second supply of watches with reference 5514. Both the Submariner Ref. 5513 and the Submariner Ref. 5514 were never included in the first Rolex catalogues because they were used exclusively by the purchasing French company.

rolex sea dwellerThe first Sea-Dweller ref. 1665, based on the Submariner 5514, appeared in 1967 with a 1575 calibre movement and date aperture at the 3 o’ clock position. The first models were patent pending and can be divided into two distinct series:
- the first, a trial version for professional divers, has a matt black dial with white writing and the name of the model printed in red. It is waterproof to 500m and carries the words Oyster Gas Escape Valve on the bottom plate. The Sea-Dweller Submariner bears an interesting variation: the model name is printed in red over two lines and it is waterproof to 610m.
- the second version has a different dial on which the name of the model, Rolex Oyster Gas Escape, is printed in red over two lines; it is waterproof to 610m and the words on the caseback (Rolex Oyster Gas Escape) read from the outside in, in a circular position except for the word Rolex which appears horizontally across the plate.
The Sea-Dweller is equipped with a special Tropic 39 super domed crystal, better able to resist water pressure; the bracelet has the reference 9315, 385 end links, Flip-Lock clasp and Diver’s Extension which allows for the watch to be worn over a wetsuit. Most likely the very first models had a riveted extension bracelet with the reference 6636 and 80 end links.
Not many years later, in 1971, the final version of the 1665 was commercialised regularly: thicker case, the words Rolex Patent and the registration number on the caseback (up until 1973 only the last three digits, from 1974 until 1977 all of them), 8315 bracelet and 385/285 end links, subsequently 93150 bracelet and 585 end links.
In 1977 there were further changes: only white writing on the dial, the model became only Sea-Dweller, the caseback no longer bore the registration number and the inscriptions were circular.

rolex sea dwellerFrom the following year, 1978, the new reference 16660 existed side by side with the reference 1665. This model too was optimised for underwater use, to the point that it was guaranteed waterproof to a maximum depth of 1220m. Amongst the changes: a larger helium escape valve, an exclusive flat and noticeably thick sapphire crystal (ref. 25-295), Triplock crown with an external O-ring gasket, 3035 calibre movement with an instantaneous date jump mechanism.
Dials up until the beginning of the 1980s were matt with tritium hour markers, after that they were polished with ‘bicchierini’ hour markers (bordered with white gold). The bracelet was reference 93160 with 592 solid end links, a peculiarity of the Sea-Dweller. A special tool set with a green leather box accompanied the watch; it included a tool to remove the links and the spring lugs, an extension for the bracelet and a table indicating decompression times.
In 1981 production of the reference 1665 ended whilst the Sea-Dweller 16660 stayed in the catalogue until 1988, the year in which the 16600 succeeded it.
In 2008 the Swiss company introduced the brand new Sea Dweller model reference 116660, waterproof to 3900m.
The technology is more and more groundbreaking: a new Ringlock System case in 904L stainless steel, platinum treated figures and numerals and a Rolex patented PVD finish, luminescent blue triangular zero marker on the graduated bezel, even at great depths. The movement is a COSC certified 3135 calibre equipped with a Parachrom hairspring, more resistant to shocks and magnetic fields. The bracelet has a double Fliplock extension for a wetsuit with a Glidelock clasp. Furthermore the watch underwent a series of special tests carried out by the French company COMEX to commemorate the original collaboration that gave birth to the model.
It is important to point out that the Sea-Dweller Deep Sea model, has a unique predecessor, the Deep Sea Special, made in the 1950s in an experimental and limited series (never commercialised) to test the resistance of the Oyster case at even greater depths. But the story of this model deserves its own mention.


rolex sea dwellerFrom a technical and aesthetic point of view the Deep Sea Special has a case and crown of solid dimensions, a particularly smooth caseback, a black dial with luminescent tritium hour markers, the word Rolex ( 6 o’ clock position) and the crown emblem (12 o’ clock position) slightly centred, with gladius hands. The movement is a 1000 calibre, probably derived from the 1030 calibre and the crystal is particularly domed.
The story of this model is tied to its achievements, made famous also due to its noticeable promotional capacities. The first occasion was in 1953 when a Deep Sea Special model was fixed to the outside of the bathyscaphe Trieste, built in 1943 by the physicist Auguste Piccard. The Bathyscaphe was immersed in the Mediterranean sea near the Isle of Capri to a depth of 3150 metres and after two hours the watch ascended to the surface in perfect working condition.
In 1960 the company continued its collaboration with Auguste Piccard’s son, Jacques, this time in a completely different setting, after the sale of the bathyscaphe Trieste to the United States Navy. Thus on 23 January 1960 the Deep Sea Special was immersed, fixed to the Trieste, in the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the Earth’s oceans. After five hours a depth of 10,908 metres was reached, a record still unbeaten. In this heroic undertaking too the watch emerged completely intact and perfectly functioning, “at 11,000 metres below as at the surface” commented Piccard.
After this adventure Rolex, with promotional as well as revelatory intentions, produced around thirty models with the maximum achieved depth engraved on the caseback and a 1570 calibre movement. Following that a small series was produced exclusively for museum exhibition.
Inevitably in 2008, more than 50 years after the first watch was made, the “submerged” story of this historical model was reawoken by the presentation of the reference 116660.

Rolex Sea-Dweller References

Steel Tropic plexiglass crystal
Sapphire crystal
















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