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Old 24 February 2008, 09:34 AM   #1
Tools
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The Rolex Sea Dweller (pre-2008)

The Sea-Dweller came about from a perceived need to have a robust dive watch that could withstand depths encountered by submersible divers, and also automatically release pressure of helium molecules that build up inside the watch after deep saturation dives in helium rich breathing mixtures.

Developed in 1967, waterproof to a depth of 610 metres (2,000 feet) initially and then to 1,220 metres (4,000 feet) in 1978, the Sea-Dweller is the watch for the pioneers of the deep. Those who were once known as aquanauts, explorers of the hydrosphere – the waters which cover some 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface. Like them, the Sea-Dweller had to adapt to the artificial breathing mixes devised for great pressure environments and composed of light gases such as helium or hydrogen. The watch has to face the same long decompression process as the diver undertakes in order to safely eliminate those gases without injury and avoid potentially fatal decompression sickness, or ‘the bends’, before he returns to the surface. With this in mind, in 1967 an important innovation developed and patented by Rolex was introduced on the Sea‑Dweller: the helium escape valve. This ingenious safety valve, set in the watch case, played an all-important role in the development of deep‑sea diving, a field in which COMEX was the most renowned player. The company’s late founder and president, Henri-Germain Delauze, a pioneer of deep diving, said of his favorite watch: “A diver breathing hydrogen can’t live without his Rolex,” adding; “In diving, time is a crucial piece of information. Be it operations, changing gas mixes, timing decompression stops, entering and exiting the diving bell, it’s all a matter of seconds. Having a precise, robust, reliable watch was of vital importance.”

Original Sea-Dwellers were modified Submariners and command high premiums in todays vintage market.
-----------------
. The Rolex Sea-Dweller was the first model in the sport's line to get SEL's (Solid End Links).
. The HEV (Helium Valve) is made of Titanium.
. The SD was the only watch to have an engraving on the edge of the caseback ("Rolex Oyster - Original Gas Escape Valve"). Now, with the Milgauss, there exist two Rolex models with caseback engravings (the Milgauss stating "Milgauss" on the edge of the caseback).


Sea-Dweller Reference Numbers: 5514, 1665, 16660, 16600 (116600 SD4000c has it's own thread)

Date of production: prototypes in 1967 with regular production 1971 to present

Movement:

5514 - Initial release to COMEX, 1520 movement
1665 - 1575 movement; launched in ~1967 (also known as SD 2000), folded bracelet
16660 - introduced 1978, Introduced sapphire crystal, 3035 movement (also known as SD 4000) 93150 bracelet
16600 - 3135 movement which was introduced in ~1989, the SD followed a year or so later, also introduced SEL 93160 bracelet.

The SD ceased production in ~2008 to make way for the Deep Sea Sea Dweller and was
re-introduced in 2014 with new ceramics and 3135 movement -116600 Sub 4000 ceramic

Case size: 40mm

Weight: 147 grams

Power Reserve: ~44 hours

Photographs

(Photos courtesy of Mike)






Links:

http://doubleredseadweller.com/index.htm

Last edited by Tools; Yesterday at 08:40 AM.. Reason: Contributors: Larry, Mike, Bo
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Old 15 April 2009, 11:29 AM   #2
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Which is more desirable dial of the 16600, the tritium or the superluminova?

TIA,
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Old 29 April 2009, 10:25 AM   #3
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great reading thanks
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Old 29 April 2009, 06:54 PM   #4
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Old 5 May 2009, 08:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tools View Post
The Sea-Dweller came about from a perceived need to have a robust dive watch that could withstand depths encountered by submersible divers, and also automatically release pressure of helium molecules that build up inside the watch after deep dives in helium rich breathing mixtures.

Original Sea-Dwellers were modified Submariners and command high premiums in todays vintage market.
-----------------
. The Rolex Sea-Dweller was the first model in the sport's line to get SEL's (Solid End Links).
. The HEV (Helium Valve) is made of Titanium.
. The SD was the only watch to have an engraving on the edge of the caseback ("Rolex Oyster - Original Gas Escape Valve"). Now, with the Milgauss, there exist two Rolex models with caseback engravings (the Milgauss stating "Milgauss" on the edge of the caseback).


Sea-Dweller Reference Numbers: 5514,1665,16600

Date of production: prototypes in 1967 with regular production 1971 to present

Movement: 3135 since 1989

Case size: 40mm

Power Reserve: ~44 hours

Photographs

(Photos courtesy of Mike)






Links:

http://doubleredseadweller.com/index.htm
Great info
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Old 14 May 2009, 03:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by superformance View Post
Which is more desirable dial of the 16600, the tritium or the superluminova?

TIA,
SP
i think that depends on the individual.

I personally like the way tritium can age and turn yellow over the years.

Superluminoa on the other hand, will mainly remain white regardless of age.
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Old 14 May 2009, 06:01 PM   #7
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very nice pictures
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Old 28 June 2009, 11:44 PM   #8
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does anyone know what movement might be expected in a 1979 sd?
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Old 2 July 2009, 12:22 AM   #9
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does anyone know what movement might be expected in a 1979 sd?
Err buddy DiverE...in 1979...2 SD models were being sold...

Ref 1665 SD with plastic crystal..."2000ft=610m" depth rating was nearing its end of production...with Cal.1570 movement.
Ref 16660 SD with Sapphire crystal..."4000ft=1220m" depth rating had just been introduced...with Cal. 3035 movement.

Hopes the above helps...
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Old 9 July 2009, 06:00 AM   #10
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You forgot the Ref. 16660...Originally with a Matt Dial with Saphire Crystal.....
It then went to a Gloss dial with White Gold surrounds and a Saphire Crytsal before becoming the 16600 with Luminova instead of tritium.....
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Old 17 July 2009, 11:10 AM   #11
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That is such a beautiful piece! I would love to own one for my first purchase!
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Old 18 July 2009, 11:45 AM   #12
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Great article!!!! The 16600 was my first Rolex and its history inspired me to go on a life-long vintage journey!
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Old 25 July 2009, 11:34 PM   #13
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I have a Sea-dweller from 1996. The Tritium stopped glowing and I'd like to replace it with a Luminova dial and Luminova hands. Does anyone know if this will decrease the value -- since the Luminova dials weren't out till around circa 2000?

Also, does the Sea-dweller crystal have the etched Rolex "Coronet"?
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Old 26 July 2009, 02:08 AM   #14
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I have a Sea-dweller from 1996. The Tritium stopped glowing and I'd like to replace it with a Luminova dial and Luminova hands. Does anyone know if this will decrease the value -- since the Luminova dials weren't out till around circa 2000?

Also, does the Sea-dweller crystal have the etched Rolex "Coronet"?
Err buddy...IF it suits you better with Luminova...you can get the correct replacement with RSC...(perhaps you can also convince RSC that you wanna keep the original Tritium Dial n Hands).

Value wise...collectors would prefer the watch to be in its original state as possible. The decision is entirely up to you.

Your 1996 Sd would not have the etched coronet on its Sapphire crystal...originally.

Hopes that helps...
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Old 9 August 2009, 05:31 AM   #15
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Orchi -- that does help, thank you!

Do you happen to know when Rolex started using the etched Coronet on the Sea-dwellers?
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Old 9 August 2009, 11:17 AM   #16
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Larry, I thought the SD was a little less wide than the Sub, like 39mm. Did I get the wrong end of the stick?
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Old 11 August 2009, 04:33 AM   #17
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the etched crown on the crystal, iirc first started in watches shipped in 99-00. they kinda overalpped. BTW if you got your sapphire crystal replaced during service the crown will have an "s" in the eye @ the bottom of the coronet.
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Old 7 September 2009, 05:34 PM   #18
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OK that's it. I've decided to get a Sea-Dweller 16600 (Not Deep Sea). I have a few questions though. If I get one of the latest ones ever produced will it have a ceramic bezel or aluminium like the one in the pictures seen here?
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Old 7 September 2009, 08:21 PM   #19
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Congrats on your decision Nicholas! I believe that you'll be quite pleased.

To answer your question, no, there will not be a ceramic bezel or insert, even up to the "M" or "Z" serial numbers. Throughout the Sea Dweller's 30+ years, it remained an all-stainless steel case and bezel.

I'm equally sure that if my info is bad, one of the experts will be along shortly to set us to rights ...

Cheers!
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Old 12 September 2009, 02:21 AM   #20
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Two more questions please.

a) Does the 16600 use '904L' steel?
b) Does it have a 'parachrome blue' spring?

Thanks!
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Old 12 September 2009, 11:16 AM   #21
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Two more questions please.

a) Does the 16600 use '904L' steel?
b) Does it have a 'parachrome blue' spring?

Thanks!

a= yes
b= No - there is no proof of this.

Good luck with your new one. I'm considering the same. My AD has 3 left
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Old 14 September 2009, 05:17 PM   #22
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Got the LAST one in KL! I was informed that this was the very last 16600 left at the local Rolex authorised dealer. They kept it for me since last week and apparently there were a few enquiries and at least two other people who wanted it!
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Old 15 September 2009, 04:46 AM   #23
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16600
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Old 18 September 2009, 11:11 PM   #24
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As promised ...



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Old 19 September 2009, 08:09 AM   #25
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Thanks 9166. I was a bit worried about blowing so much $ on a watch especially in the current economic climate but, the best time to buy a Rolex is always 'now' due to the ever-increasing prices and most of all because this was the last one left in stock.

Yeah that target sheet was an early one it's much better now at 10m. Was pulling the trigger the wrong way and jerking it. Everythings a 9 or 10 now. Might move to 15m soon.

A few things I don't quite like about the SD though.
1) Hands are shiny and reflect surroundings. They should be matt white. Notice that in the pics the seconds hand can hardly be seen.
2) Watch/Dial is too small (29mm?). Wouldn't hurt to be a little larger.
3) Clasp is made of thin stamped steel and has a stamped-in 'fake bracelet link' pattern. I guess they've fixed this with the new DSSD clasp. I wonder if we can fit that onto the 16600?

Hmmm!
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Old 21 September 2009, 12:53 AM   #26
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All the Rolex hands are made in the Rolex factory using white gold. They all look the same across many models. The smaller dial may have something to do with the greater depth rating. Notice how thick the crystal is.The subs have thinner crystal. Must agree with your on the bracelet. I don't think the DSSD bracelet can go onto the SD though they both have the same 20mm lugs. Maybe you can check with Rolex Malaysia in Menara Dion.

Which range do you do your shooting? UIT?
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Old 21 September 2009, 02:56 AM   #27
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The DSSD has a 21mm lug width.. the bracelets are not interchangeable with the standard SeaDweller.
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Old 21 September 2009, 05:21 AM   #28
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Enjoying reading all this. My brother has a Rolex SD 1665 (plastic convex) & I've always liked this watch, esp. since I grew up watching Live and Let Die and Roger Moore's MI6 Rolex cutting some ropes, albeit a Submariner. I was walking down Bond St in London with my sister last week and popped into the Rolex dealer to see how much her Rolex would cost now.

In passing I asked if they had any Sea Dwellers, but I knew it was unlikely as the old one had been discontinued. As it turned out they had received the last 2 from their head office on the Thursday, one sold Friday and the last one was there. They also had a Deep Sea so I could compare. The Deep Sea it huge. I like big watches but this is too much and almost seems too big for the bracelet, like the watch was bullying the bracelet and stealing it's food. Anyway, I went for a wander to think about it down the nearby Burlington arcade where there are several antique Rolex dealers. They had a few old sea dwellers and even a double red SD which was on sale for £18k. They looked so good even at 20 years old so I decided it was the last chance to have a new SD before they replaced it with the Megaladon so I went back and bought it. It's a V series, I think the last one produced and must be one of the last new ones available in the UK.

It's just sitting in the box at the minute with all the plastic still on it partly because they have to send me extra links as I have a big wrist and partly because I am scared to ruin it by wearing it.
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Old 22 September 2009, 04:18 AM   #29
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a Seadweller is a perfect choice! Enjoy it and wear it! ;)
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Old 26 September 2009, 04:31 AM   #30
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My first Rolex was a SD bought new in HK about 30 years ago. I have not worn it for maybe 10 years now, and I just took it out of storage today. It has the plastic crystal, so I was thinking maybe put a sapphire crystal on it. Did some internet searches and found this web site.

Hmm... so these are somewhat collectible now. Interesting, because all these years I regretted buying the SD instead of the black face Daytona with red lettering. Oh, well I guess it turned out not to be a totally stupid decision after all.

Is there more than one version of the plastic crystal SD? How do I tell which one I have?

Here is a picture of my watch.
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