Up Close With The Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 (with live photos and price)

Baselworld 2014 saw Rolex introduce the Sea-Dweller 4000, its classic saturation diver's timepiece. Though functionally identical to its predecessor, the Sea-Dweller Ref. 116600 is substantially improved in many respects, inside and out. As it arrives at retailers, here's an in-depth look at the new Sea-Dweller.

In a surprise revival of a classic, perhaps in response to plodding sales of the oversized Deep Sea, the Sea-Dweller returned to the Rolex catalogue at Baselworld 2014. The new Sea-Dweller 4000 (Ref. 116600) is essentially a Rolex classic rejuvenated. Looking much like the models that came before, the new Sea-Dweller is rated to the same 4000 ft or 1220 m as tradition dictates. But the 2014 model is equipped with all the features that have become standard on all Rolex timepieces in the six years since the last Sea-Dweller was discontinued, like a ceramic bezel insert and Glidelock clasp. So despite being much the same, it is a better watch.

At 40 mm wide, the Sea-Dweller is the same diameter as many generations of Rolex sports watches. But it has the wider and thicker lugs found on the current Submariners and GMT-Masters. The case is large, solid and finished to a high degree. A helium escape valve is in the traditional nine o’clock position in the case.

Made of ceramic with platinum coated numerals and markings, the bezel insert is a glossy black. Notably, it has minute markings all round the bezel, like the Deep Sea and vintage Milsubs. Sitting just a bit above the bezel is the sapphire crystal, making prone to chips on the edge, a perennial problem with Rolex sapphire crystals.

Glossy and black with multiple lines of superfluous and oddly quaint writing, the dial is typical Rolex style. Like all current Rolex watches the dial flange, commonly known as the rehaut, is engraved with repeated “ROLEX”.

Another feature standard in Rolex sports models found here is the the Glidelock clasp on the bracelet, which is adjustable in 2 mm increments up to 20 mm, plus a Fliplock diver’s extension to fit over a wetsuit. Inside is the calibre 3135 automatic, the Rolex workhorse used in its men’s watches.

Though it does not have the new Syloxi silicon hairspring yet, the blue Parachrom balance spring is paramagnetic and shock resistant. Though not neither novel nor groundbreaking, the new Sea-Dweller offers a little bit more than a Submariner, but not as much as the clunky Deep Sea.

Appropriately, the Sea-Dweller 4000 retails for US$10,400, 9900 Swiss francs or 13,560 Singapore dollars. That’s approximately 15% less than the Deep Sea and 20% more the Submariner date, which is fair enough.

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