Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Watch For James Cameron Hands-On

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Watch For James Cameron Hands-On

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Watch For James Cameron Hands-On Hands-On

The Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue 116660 watch is really cool in the flesh. Rolex said it was the first of its kind and possibly the last of its kind - a watch specially designed to be in honor of an event and for a person. About two weeks ago, Rolex did something very unique for the brand, and that was to release a new version of an existing watch in honor of James Cameron and his journey to one of the deepest parts of the ocean in his aptly named Deepsea Challenger submersible (you can read our full story on the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue watch launch here). Now, we have some hands-on pictures of the retail version of the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue watch, which is already available at Rolex retailers.

We previously mentioned that it was an oddity for Rolex to release a timepiece outside of their normal Baselworld watch trade show schedule. Rolex admits it was a unique thing for them to do, but praised the overall goal of the project and their desire to try new things. Rolex is a brand with an image so strong that many agree it is their main job is to preserve rather than promote. At the same time, any company interested in keeping the hearts and minds of its customers close must always offer something new.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Watch For James Cameron Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Watch For James Cameron Hands-On Hands-On

The Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue watch (Deepsea D-Blue for short) is certainly new, but also very familiar – a running theme with most fresh things we see coming from "the Crown." The dial is new, the theme is new, and the release strategy is new. What is the same is the Deepsea watch model itself, and as of right now, it still has the same "116660" reference number of the standard black dial Deepsea timepiece.

We've never really done a hands-on of the Deepsea before, so in addition to talking about the new D-Blue variant in honor of James Cameron, I'd like to discuss the Deepsea a bit in general. It is, in short, one of the more quirky Rolex Oyster Professional watches, but nevertheless highly desirable and lovable.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Watch For James Cameron Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Watch For James Cameron Hands-On Hands-On

Let's start by talking about the new D-Blue dial itself. As you know, the design of the dial is meant to mimic the voyage of James Cameron in his Deepsea Challenger submersible mission from 2012 (discussed here). The blue to black gradient of the dial is meant to resemble ocean water that gets black as you go deeper because sunlight can only penetrate so far. The green color of the "DEEPSEA" label is the same color as the Deepsea Challenger submersible. James Cameron himself is an avid watch lover and has been a Rolex guy for a while. His main watch seems to be a Rolex Deepsea.

It isn't clear whether he suggested to Rolex that they make the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue dial or it was someone at Rolex who suggested it to Mr. Cameron, but the fact remains that this is the first time in Rolex history that anything like this has been done. Having said that, you need to be familiar with the events of 2012 and the release of James Cameron's 2014 Deepsea Challenge 3D film in order to properly understand the watch in the future. Nothing on the Rolex Deepsea D-Blue dial watch itself at all directly references the film, the voyage, or James Cameron. Thus, it will be important for future collectors to understand all of this when wanting to know what the watch was all about. This is an important point because many brands who make a watch for a special event or occasion do not consider that people 50 years from now might have no idea what a product is all about unless it says so on the product itself.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Watch For James Cameron Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Watch For James Cameron Hands-On Hands-On

Rolex, of course, isn't the type of company to put anything extra on their timepieces, so it is not really practical to expect them to put some sort of a unique design element on the watch to commemorate the event, but I figured it was worth mentioning. In a sense, collectors can think of the Rolex Deepsea D-Blue dial watch as a consolation to the fact that Rolex will not actually be producing for retail sale the massive Deepsea Challenge concept watch designed for the underwater mission that was water resistant to 12,000 meters. That is over three times the 3,900 meters of water resistance of the Deepsea, but it is designed like a super-sized version of the standard Deepsea. Rolex had just a few weeks to create the Deepsea Challenge concept watch and they only made about 5 or 6 of them.

The Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue is currently the most high-performance dive watch that Rolex makes, as well as the largest in a thick (17.7mm) and broad (44mm wide) case. It comes on an Oyster-style bracelet and is made from 904L steel. The caseback of the watch is in titanium and it has a range of features that help offer the massive water resistance such as the Ring Lock System and the massive, 5 millimeter thick sapphire crystal over the dial.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Watch For James Cameron Hands-On Hands-On

What do you think?
  • I want it! (56)
  • I love it! (24)
  • Thumbs up (15)
  • Classy (13)
  • Interesting (10)
  • Sometimes I really hate that Rolex can’t get the coronet logo on the crown to point up when fully screwed in. You’d think for a $10k+ watch they could do it, and even for their $30k+++ watches!
    This version is nice, but not rush to the store and be put on a waiting list nice.

  • Hmmm – “Rolex of course isn’t the type of company to put anything extra on their timepieces”. I guess once you already have “ROLEX”, “OYSTER PERPETUAL DATE”, “DEEPSEA”, “SEA-DWELLER”, “12800ft = 3900m”, “SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER” and “OFFICALLY CERTIFIED” on the dial then yeah, restraint finally kicks in and you forgo putting James Cameron’s name on it.
    I guess in the world of Rolex prices, paying just $300 more for the 2 tone dial is a deal. I really don’t have anything negative to say about the watch itself, only that as an uber tool watch it’s overkill for most people’s needs. But their wants are another matter.

  • MarkCarson I just wish Tiffany still sold Rolex!

  • Chaz_Hen I’m sure if they tried they could squeeze “JAMES CAMERON”, “DEEP SEA CHALLENGE 3D – THE MOVIE” in somewhere.

  • fritsveer

    Chaz_Hen I fully agree with you on the coronet logo. This MUST be pointing up when fully screwed.. Its like have your steering wheel in the car not aligned..
    I cannot imagine that it is a detail they overlooked at Rolex!?

  • fritsveer

    I was thrown a little of guard by the “oyster Perpetual Date” inscription.
    I concluded that it also had a perpetual date, meaning for me, only in February you have to adjust the date.
    Apparently (quoting Naoh Ritter here :)), it means it is automatic winding…..

  • DG Cayse

    fritsveer Chaz_Hen You gentlemen must understand that there is a compressible gasket that allows the device to be water resistant to great depths. In order to maintain this seal it is designed so that as it is compressed, or “screwed in” different positions can, and do, occur. This is part of the design of the mechanism. Unfortunately, for some, this does mean that there is not a ‘perfect alignment’ of the crown logo at all times.

    Although I do understand how this “tool” feature might be upsetting to the OCD/OCC(?) in the horology crowd.

  • naah70

    “It lacks some of the more graceful proportions and elegance of the Submariner”  I think you have summed it up nicely.  When comparing it with Submariner it is a hefty watch.  It is nice watch though, but given the price difference with Submariner and the extra weight and not to mention the extra text on dial, it is going to be a watch mainly for collectors.

  • naah70

    Chaz_Hen I agree, it would be ideal to have the coronet logo aligned.  I think it is practically not possible.  Think of it as tightening the water tap to stop dripping and when you do that there will be some misalignment.  Even if Rolex were to align it at factory, it would eventually misalign over time with usage.  By the way looking at my Omega Planet Ocean it is the same case with both the crown and the Helium escape valve.

  • DG Cayse Well, can it be right side up at the surface then? Actually while I’m anal about a lot of stuff, crown alignment is not one of them.

  • Oelholm

    “…people 50 years from now might have no idea what a product is all about unless it says so on the product itself.” That may the case now, but unless there is a major internet melt-down in the course of the next fifty years, it’s just not likely in any way. Times have changed…

  • Jimxxx

    Today’s odd release is tomorrow’s collectors grail,,,

  • Oelholm

    DG Cayse fritsveer Chaz_Hen It IS possible, however, to adjust it from the factory so that it’s aligned when using the watch at normal pressure – ie. on dry land. Where 99% of these will spend all their time.

  • trj66

    MarkCarson I’m so glad you point out the extreme amount of text on the dial of this (and other Rolex Oysters). For me it is a turn-off, in this case because the text distracts from the otherwise interesting colour-graduation. I prefer only to have the name of the brand and (maybe) the model on the dial – and all the technical bragging and mumbo-jumbo belongs to the case-back. Same goes for the text on the internal bezel.

    Imagine this model with only “Rolex” and “DEEPSEA” on the dial: nice IMHO!

  • Fraser Petrick

    The next time I’m 12,800 feet underwater and the question occurs to me, “Does my Rolex have a new gas escapement valve ring lock system – or is it the original gas escapement valve ring lock system?” I can just read the outer edge of the face. Terribly reassuring. Besides, it’s nice to have some reading material whilst down among those funny little shrimp.

    (I’ve never used the word “whilst” before; now I have. What’s next, “fortnight”?)

  • I’m no Rolex fan, but this one is pretty nice. I can’t stand that handset, and the bracelet is much too small for the case, but it is certainly a masculine watch. Maybe their best dial too, although the marketing images and the real wrist shots tell different stories: the blue does almost get completely lost.
    Fan of the green text.

  • Ulysses31

    I originally quite liked the look of this, before I realised the dial was a weird gradient fill, Photoshop style.  It doesn’t seem to pop like in the promotional pictures but then we all know those are heavily edited.  Like many a Rolex, it suffers from too much text on the watch.  You shouldn’t have to scream about the features of the watch.  If you must, put it on a sticker that can be peeled off.  The way they’ve done it is like having permanent advertising on the thing.  I don’t like it.  If you are a WIS you are probably already well-aware of what the watch can do.  If you’re an ignorant poseur out to impress your friends, only then would such information be necessary.

  • Galvan

    Just wonderful!! This watch is one of my favorites Rolex watches as it is big in size. The ring lock system makes the watch look more robust and interesting. The bracelet is small, but doesn’t look bad at all. The two tone dial is a great way to represent the deep sea challenge, I couldn’t find a better way to represent such an important memorable journey of Mr. Cameron. I personally had the opportunity to get my hands-on on the deep sea Rolex (the previous version) and does wear very confortable, specially in my big wrist. Overall I love this watch, and I think it is a great way to honor Mr.Cameron. Good job by Rolex!!
    Best Regards all.

  • watchgoober

    Hilarious!

    This watch looks cheap. Seriously, 5 lines of writing? Why don’t they tell us the power reserve and also a biographer of one of the poor Rolex factory drones who may or may not have put this thing together?

    It’s all supply and demand. Rolex could supply a turd and there would be demand for it. There’s no incentive for them to create anything new or interesting.

    • Merckel

      Goober, indeed. I’ve seen this watch in person (unlike you, no doubt), and it’s without a doubt the most attractive Rolex I’ve seen.

  • Fraser Petrick

    I’m waiting for a Lloyd Bridges/Sea Hunt Rolex.
    Kidding.
    Nice watch, in spite of the reading material.

  • AMorin

    Despite the excessive text on the dial this versions looks much better here than in the promotional pictures. It’s definitely growing on me.

  • shinytoys

    It just keeps on looking like that same old friend you’ve had for years…

  • CG

    What no bad film preview imbedded in the back? What no Cameron name on the face? He must be pissed but the residuals make up for it! I want a Linda Lovelace Deep Throat Dweller! Can namesake watches get any less traction than this marketing job?

  • MikeinFrankfurt

    I really go back and forth on liking the whole DSSD “line” in general which tells me I don’t love it.  The whole script on the inner bezel has always bothered me and seems entirely superfluous.  I’m fine with the paragraph on the dial as that is at least tradition.  In a similar vein, I suppose one has to remember that this was released in the same era as that blingy YMII, a true “gangsta” looking watch with that nasty bezel with “Yacht-master II” in huge font.

    On the positive side, these pictures look a whole lot better than the press shots and I look forward to seeing one.  End result…they’ll sell these $12K+ pieces in an expeditious manner that will likely be the envy of their competition.

  • Evitzee

    Rolex fans have to get their excitement somehow, but all the hyperventilating over this watch because of, GASP!, a new dial borders on silly even for Rolex sycophants.  This is the ultimate Rolex tool watch, but it was that before this new version.  All the twisting and turning Ariel has gone through about how this was done outside of Basel (oh my), and it was for a certain individual (golly) just seem really stretching the newness factor.  Rolex will sell all they can make, good for them, but let’s not act foolish over a new dial.

  • bichondaddy

    I, personally, am going to wait for the 52 mm “SHARKNADO 2” version of the DSSD to come out!  I heard it is going to have holographic images of a flying shark devouring Kelly Ripa on the dial!

  • Shawnnny

    Wow, this is the first Rolex that I would buy and wear. It’s about time they stepped a foot outside the box!

  • Shawnnny

    About one percent of these watches will spend any time under water.

  • Kerby23

    MarkCarson You forgot the “Original Gas Escape Valve” and “Ring Lock System”, which is so important for this watch, um yeah.

  • Fraser Petrick

    bichondaddy  “Sharknado”. Third greatest movie ever made, after Gone With the Wind and The Sound of Music.

  • Fraser Petrick

    MikeinFrankfurt  “Paragraph”…right!

  • Kerby23

    The Deepsea is the only Rolex that interests me and I’d consider purchasing some day.  I like the green text on this one, the black blue doesn’t seem to come out much in the pictures.  Thicker bracelet would be nice, and this is the one they should do an official black version of

  • Fraser Petrick A dollar for every foot under water…

  • Kerby23 Yeah, I was not sure if that was technically on the flange or the dial itself. But I dislike that too. “Original Gas Escape Value”? As opposed to what – a cheap aftermarket one?

  • Fraser Petrick

    Chaz_Hen Fraser Petrick  I like your $/ft formula; by which means I could have a Rolex Perpetual for $4, four feet being the depth of the water at the Eldorado Royale Swim-up bars .Viva el Mexico!

  • amoeba

    fritsveer Chaz_Hen

    How do you expect to achieve this when you use the crown to wind the watch? The position of the crown after winding can’t be constant and I assume there are multiple screw thread access points.

  • antjay

    This is what I picture when I hear the term” Dive Watch” (this or a Sub’) , but I fear that Rolex has become a victim of their own success . They have been the subject of so many homages and blatant copies over the years that their style has become ubiquitous or even generic . I think that the Rolex enthusiast  of fifty years hence will be salivating over new releases that look remarkably similar to what we see in the present day catalogue .
    Don’t lose to much sleep worrying about future Rolex enthusiasts ability to “understand” this watch . Most current Rolex enthusiasts that I have come across can recite every dial , hand , band and script colour combination ever produced , the reason behind said variations , and what day of the week they were introduced . I can’t see this or the watches themselves changing all that much in the future . .

  • TomasinaCovell

    CG Well… had it been OMEGA…

  • TomasinaCovell

    She’s a sea hulk she is!

  • SheldonSmith

    I have worn a DSSD since February and it is indeed a different watch.  It wears heavy and you know its “there”, yet it is lighter than a platinum Daytona. What sold me on the DSSD is how the 5.5mm crystal flows seamlessly into the ceramic bezel, and the DeepSea exclusive Glidelock clasp (a GlideLock clasp different than what is found on the Submariner).   The clasp is crucial for keeping the watch tight and comfortable; size adjustments can be made while the watch is being worn.  I have more thoughts and notes on the DSSD on my website.  

    I just saw the D-Blue DSSD in person and it is a beauty that no photo can adequately capture.  It is worth seeing before making judgement.

  • SheldonSmith “…lighter than a platinum Daytona” – I think my car is lighter than a Plattinum Daytona. I tried one one at BaselWorld 2013 and it weighs a ton (which you expect).  Thanks for the hands on feedback.

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  • Johnny Tank

    “http://www.ablogtowatch.com/watch-brands/rolex/ said it was the first of its kind and possibly the last of its kind – a watch specially designed to be in honor of an event and for a person”

    Rolex released a limited edition set (88 PCs) of Explorers a few years back, in honour of the Hillary/Norgay expedition that reached the peak of Everest. How does this not fall under that category of “specially designed to be in honour of an event and for a person”, or is it because it was two people..?

  • chazman8197

    After seeing this boat anchor that Rolex is putting out, makes me really happy I bought a Sinn UX 2, looks nicer, is a lot smaller, +/-  5 seconds a “Year”, not a day, and can withstand 12,000 m water pressure.

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  • jeffsrt1005

    I own an Invicta HYDROMAX. Love it!, its just plain stupid for me to pay for a Rolex anymore. If Invicta can make pretty close version (size/style an all) of the Deep Sea Challenge. Then why not Rolex?? It’s still wearable and in most cases people will just collect it for nostalgia sake. Rolex dropped the ball on that if you ask me. BTW, many of my friends and associates that own Rolex. 9 of use purchased the HYDROMAX because we loved the true star of the Deep Sea Challenge (watch that is). Thats a hell of an accomplishment.

  • No wristwatch is accurate to “+/- 5 seconds a year,” chazman. Omegas with co-axial movements can be accurate to within 3 seconds a month, or so they say, about the same as the best ETA quartz movements.

  • DG Cayse

    I said it before, and I will probably say it again…AWESOME.

  • DG Cayse

    jeffsrt1005 It is good that you like your watch.

    You must, however, pardon my skepticism at your rather garbled enthusiasm.

  • jeffsrt1005

    “Garbled enthusiasm” aside, its my opinion and my feelings on this subject. Sorry not to feel the need to engage you in some type of debate over a Watch. I got better sh#% to discuss or debate on more intellectually stimulating sites if warranted.

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  • Steve Roberts
  • cHew zeN

    has this watch been discontinued?