Luxury Watch 101: The Rolex Sea-Dweller

The Rolex Sea-Dweller is an iconic diving watch that can survive enormous depths on the wrists of divers – but don’t worry, it works just as well for a land-dweller, too!  Want to learn more about this classic watch? Keep reading for the history, key features, and tips on how to spot a fake.

History of the Rolex Sea-Dweller

During the 1960s, the needs of professional divers led to the innovation of water-resistant tools to conduct safe diving operations. After all, it’s a dangerous job working at 1,000+ feet depths! The Submariner was already known as the premier diving watch of the time, but divers were experiencing an issue at record-breaking depths: the plexiglass crystals on these watches would pop off due to the pressure. That’s why Rolex pushed the boundaries of diving watches by creating a Sea-Dweller capable of diving 4,000 feet.

Key Features of the Sea-Dweller

The most notable feature of the Sea-Dweller, and an easy way to differentiate it from a Submariner, is its Helium Escape Valve. Why does the Sea-Dweller need a Helium Escape Valve? Due to the saturation and pressure thousands of feet below sea level, tiny molecules of helium get pushed past a typical waterproof watches’ seal. A helium escape valve allows those molecules to escape while leaving the seal intact. Another quick way to identify a Sea-Dweller from its Rolex brethren is the lack of the date-magnifying cyclops.

The Sea-Dweller in Pop Culture

The Rolex Sea-Dweller 116660B, otherwise known as the “James Cameron,” commemorates the notable director’s solo dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Why was this dive in need of commemoration? The Mariana Trench goes about 36,000 feet deep! It features a dial with a blue-to-black gradient, unique to other Rolex-brand dials to represent the descent from the vibrant open water to the dark, alien depths.

Which celebrities rock the Sea-Dweller? Here are just a few:

  • David Beckham is quite the Rolex collector and has been seen with the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller on his wrist more than a few times.
David Beckham and his Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller
David Beckham and his Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller Photo Credit to Jaztime Blog:
  • Charlize Theron also rocks a Sea-Dweller. Who says it’s strictly a men’s watch?
Charlieze Theron and her Rolex Sea-Dweller
Photo Credit:

How to Spot a Fake Sea-Dweller

A trained eye can spot the difference between a real and a fake Rolex quickly. A tell-tale sign of a fake Rolex is a second hand that ticks rather than sweeps. If you see the second hand counting seconds with a ticking motion rather than a smooth motion, it’s an easy sign of counterfeit. Another sign that might be less obvious is uneven or inconsistent font. For example, the text that reads “OYSTER PERPETUAL” on a real Rolex dial will be sharply printed, evenly-spaced with consistent thickness. If the font looks funky, it’s a fake. The inside of the clasp is another good way to tell if a Rolex is fake or not. A real Rolex Sea-Dweller has a clasp with a frosty finish with and a clearly-etched logo. A “Faux-lex” Sea-Dweller clasp often has a smooth, brushed finish with printed letters that will likely wear off over time.

While there are tell-tale signs of fake Rolexes, counterfeiters are getting better and better at fooling the naked eye. Sometimes, the best way to make sure a Rolex is authentic is to have an expert open it up and inspect it. Our luxury watch experts at Dallas Gold & Silver Exchange have decades of experience with luxury watches and can spot the Rolex from the “Faux-lex” in a sweeping second. If you’ve purchased a Rolex and think it’s counterfeit, we’ll check it for you free of charge!

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