This year’s Basel show brought a big smile to the faces of many a Rolex fan with the reintroduction of an old favourite, the Sea Dweller 4000. The 4000 refers to the water resistance of the watch, which is tested to 4000ft underwater (1220m for those of you who prefer metric!) The Sea Dweller has always been the even tougher brother of the Submariner, and is more focused on the needs of professional divers. In return, it has been the dive watch of choice for many diving organisations, most notably COMEX, who helped Rolex develop the watch in the 1960s.
Divers who worked in hypobaric chambers had noticed an issue when the chambers were decompressing – their watch glasses were popping out! After investigating, it was discovered that the helium the divers needed to breathe at pressure (as pure oxygen becomes toxic under pressure) was penetrating the seals of the watch. As the chamber decompressed, the helium inside the watch expanded, building up pressure, and forcing the glass to move out of place. Rolex and COMEX developed a solution, and built a valve in the side of the case that would automatically release the built up helium as the pressure rose. The first variant of the Sea Dweller was resistant to 600ft, but was quickly improved to 4000ft over the following years
The new version of the Sea Dweller has several design cues that nod to the past – the prominent crystal that stands proud above the bezel, and the matte paint on the dial are two that are particularly noticeable. The case also retains the classic 40mm diameter Sea Dweller fans are familiar with, along with a less angular case compared to the Submariner. Whilst the watch is clearly inspired by the past, Rolex have still transformed it into a thoroughly modern watch. The Sea Dweller now features a ceramic bezel, designed to be highly resistant to colour fade and scratches, as well as a modernised bracelet using the particularly handy Glidelock clasp.
The resulting watch is an immensely versatile and wearable watch, whose impressive water resistance and focus on utility doesn’t compromise its ability to be worn every day. As you would expect, it sits in between its brothers the Submariner Date and the Deep Sea with regards to price at £6900. The watch is available to buy at all Fraser Hart Rolex stockists, subject to stock.