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Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

Have you been waiting for a new Rolex Sea-Dweller? Among a series of new models, Rolex has announced a new version of their famed professional diving watch, the Rolex Sea-Dweller. Carrying the new reference 116600, the 2014 Rolex Sea-Dweller sticks very close to the look and feel of past iterations of this historic diver with very close ties to the Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 which was discontinued in 2008. The Rolex Sea-Dweller was originally launched in 1967 as a response to the expanding world of saturation diving. Thanks to input from the US Navy (via the SEALAB II program) and French Comex divers, Rolex designed a watch that was capable of withstanding extreme pressure and expelling the helium gas that can seep into the case during a saturation dive.

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

An excellent example of what people mean when they say “tool watch,” the Rolex Sea-Dweller is is the stuff of dive watch legend, and Rolex didn’t mess with the established formula for this updated version. Still sporting a 40mm case in 904L steel, a date display with no magnifier and 4000 ft (1220 M) of water resistance, the 116600 keeps up with the modern line-up thanks to the inclusion of a Cerachrom bezel and a Gildelock clasp with a 26mm diving extension on the bracelet.

In many ways the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 is similar to the Rolex Submariner, but after a few months working out at the gym to bulk up. The Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 case is water resistant to 1220 meters versus the 300 meters of the Submariner, and sports a thicker case and sapphire crystal. While most people who dive won’t really need that extra water resistance, Rolex like to make its diving watches suitable for the most extreme conditions. Having said that, from a purely aesthetic standpoint a great benefit of the Rolex Sea-Dweller over the Rolex Submariner Date, is that you get to have the inclusion of a date window, without having the sapphire crystal magnifier lens on the crystal.

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

Sporting the same Rolex 3135 movement that is found in the 116610 Submariner Date, the Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 has a power reserve of 48 hours and features a Parachrom hairspring and COSC certification. The Rolex Sea-Dweller’s considerable water resistance is thanks to a case and crystal that is thicker than that of the Submariner and firmly places the resistance of the Rolex Sea-Dweller between the 1000 ft Submariner and the 12,800 ft DeepSea. This might be an extra watch model for a niche group of consumers or the model that is akin to the right temperature porridge if you want to use the Goldilocks analogy.

Technologically speaking, the helium escape valve (HeV) is the Rolex Sea-Dweller’s signature feature and it can be seen at its usual place on the nine o’clock side of the case. If tiny helium molecules in the breathing mix of a saturation dive were to seep into watch, the helium would expand during ascent and the increased pressure could damage the watch. The HeV allows the expanding gas to be vented from the case, thus protecting the watch without compromising overall water resistance. Rolex once again promises a beautiful luxury watch that you can take underwater for your real or fantasy diving missions.

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

Priced at 9,900 CHF, we expect the US price of the Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 to be $10,400 USD when the Rolex Sea-Dweller goes on sale this spring. At $10,400, the Rolex Sea-Dweller is $1500 more than the Submariner Date and offers a very similar watch for the price. As good as this new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 is, and it’s very good, we think it could have been a complete knock-out at 42mm. Not only would it be a much easier up-sell from a Rolex Submariner Date (reviewed here), but it would also provide a natural step between the 40mm Submariner and the 44mm Deepsea.

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

There is nothing wrong about the 40mm sizing, it wears well and looks great, but it doesn’t create enough space between Rolex Sea-Dweller and the more affordable, thinner and arguably more practical Submariner. While few, if any, will utilize the considerable increase in water resistance and the helium escape valve, the Deepsea has already proven there is a market for larger Rolex dive watches and the Rolex Sea-Dweller might have had a wider appeal at 42mm. That being said, two whole millimeters is not a deal breaker for us and the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 is an exciting and unexpected addition to the Rolex line up – just the sort of stuff that keeps us coming back to Basel year after year.

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases

Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 Ref. 116600 Watch For 2014 Hands-On Watch Releases



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  • GBD

    This might be the best looking modern Rolex, imo. The fully indexed bezel, no cyclops, and the fat lugs somehow just work better on this model than they do on the Sub. I’m not generally a fan of Rolex, but I think this is a knockout.

  • pinkdela

    The size is just perfect. 40mm is the best size for a sports watch. This madness of 41+mm watches ttendency needs to stop. 42mm will look like sub in steroids like the deep sea. Great tool watch. And a faithful modern take of an absolute classic. Bravo Rolex!

  • acmoreland

    I agree that 42 would have been great, 44 even better.  However I haven’t seen anyone mention the satin dial.  I can’t really tell in most pictures, but it looks like it has a matte finish rather than the glossy finish of  the other subs.  Is it really matte finish like the older models?

  • StuffIsay

    Solid write up.
    Thickness in terms of height?

  • DG Cayse

    Nice review, nice photographs and a very nice watch. Thank you Mr. Stacey.

  • Ulysses31

    It’s a very slight improvement.  As usual, very well made – look at that clasp, for example.  It looks cleaner somehow.  I don’t like the magnifier so it’s good that that’s gone, and the off-white lume in the bezel is nice too.  Would have been even better with a black date dial.  See, i’m trying to be nice about this watch, can you tell?  I don’t hate it, and to be fair Rolex have shuffled a few inches in the right direction with it.  Mess with it too much and people would stop buying it, I guess.

  • Do the end links stick up a bit? They seem to be protruding as if the bracelet is about to come off!

    All in all, this is about as balanced as a watch gets–along with the newest sub “no date’.

  • witchwatch


    I can understand what you mean but I have to say I kind of agree with Mr Stacey that upping the case size to 42mm would make it the perfect middle brother to the Sub & Deep Sea & as he said help justify that bit more the extra outlay.

  • “…the 2014 Sea-Dweller sticks very close to the look and feel of past iterations…” 

    this is too easy…

  • pinkdela

    HI Witchwatch,  I understand your point as well, but,, you don´t change a classic, If its meant to be 42mm, a decent option is the Pelagos.. 40mm is a universal size perfect for almost every wrist.,  42mm looks bulky. 
    Total respect to Mr Stacey and all the big watch lovers, dont get me wrong. Call me old fashioned if you might. Kind Regards

  • witchwatch


    Fair points all. Would not consider myself a big watch lover completely to be honest, I say this as I wear I GV as I type and all my others are 38=40mm. For the record I agree 40mm is around perfect unless you actually have a tool watch as a tool rather than a wrist ornament. 40=42 is sweet for me & I would go as far as 44 but no further.

  • pinkdela

    witchwatch pinkdela  All your points are totally correct, my friend. Let´s call it even then, for this time, until the next one. But, before closing this nice discussion, Look at what Swatch group did to the Fifty Fathoms, From being an honest tool watch at 41mm, Turned it into a Lou Ferrigno version, all about ornamental 45mm, of metal, no longer tool, but pure and vain show off spirit on the wrist. That is why not only me but a lot of real aficionados (no pun intended) are going back to the roots, sometimes paying outrageous prices in the vintage market, where understatement can still be found.

  • witchwatch

    pinkdela witchwatch

    Absolutely agree on that Fifty Fathoms, a horrendous decision by Blancpain simply due to as you said “show off spirit” to capture the ‘Statement Piece’ wearers market as I call it.

  • aracca

    Will it be out this spring?

  • Twinbarrel

    Like messing it up with a Pepsi bezel… They might already have thought about it.

  • spiceballs

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – except maybe Rolex should be looking closely at improving the power reserve on all their watches?

  • tas2525

    Great review, after my I let go of my previous SD, the new one isnow my this year wishlist. A fan of BlogtoWatch

  • aracca

    What size is your wrist in these shots?

  • benjamin0723

    4000 ft not 4000 meters 🙂

  • Emperius

    Bigger than 40mm? No thanks. This fits most humans, not biblical giants.

  • Caesar_Sr

    Really poor video “hands-on’ reporter: incorrect about the depth rating and size.
    No mention of the more subtle differences between the 16600 and the new 2014 release, like the larger hour markers, new lume, the slightly chunkier ceramic bezel and lugs.
    We come here for details!

  • Caesar_Sr We appreciate the feedback. The haste in which we must do videos on the spot sometimes means that we can’t sit down for a moment and take in all the facts – so mistakes happen when you have approximately 3 minutes to do videos of four watches. I hope you agree that in the article itself we have remedied each of those issues  and delivered a true account of the facts and our opinions on the new watch.

  • Khur

    I like this much more than the previous SD.
    I like that the little flange gasket ring around the dial is gone.
    I might be wrong but dont remember any of the SDs have a cyclops, which is a plus for me.
    Pepsi on a diver?
    Not sure on that, more for gmt watches from what I’ve learned.
    Regardless, good looking watch.
    Big but it IS meant to be a diver not a status symbol as most people treat it as..

  • IvanGopey

    This autumn.

  • ocabj

    I’m actually warming up to the idea of owning one of these. I tried one on and actually liked it.

  • jrusvik

    I have the old SD. Do you guys know if the new 116600 bracelet will fit the old one?

  • TomConte

    Bought this watch when I turned 50 years old as a commemorative watch.
    Wear it every day.
    Love it.
    NO it is not “too small.”
    The height of the watch and the black bezel make this wear like a 42mm watch optically.
    Don’t feel like a girlyman at all with it on (quite the opposite– studly)

  • steppxxxxz

    40mm is SO much better than 42. The balance of parts is better, its more elegant and Im so glad that they didnt go to 42.,. this large watch fetish is now becoming a sign of just crass taste.

  • crezo

    Great write up and pics as always, but I’ve got to ask, is that bracelet from another model? As the end link simply doesn’t match the shape of the lugs?! What’s going on there?

  • Lee Fisk

    Always late to the party… When this review was originally written I’d likely agreed with it although I owned a 114060 and couldn’t get use to the proportions and feel on my wrist. I ended up going with the older 14060 as it felt much more comfortable on my 6.5 inch wrist. Now the SD 43mm is available and there is no way I could pull that off comfortably. So what’s a watch addict to do? For me the decision was to buy a 116600. It affords many of the upgrades of the 126600 (power reserve excluded) but maintains it’s allegiance with the traditional Sea Dweller and older Rolex divers. On top of that, the SDs have never flown off dealers shelves. So with a limited run, the SD4K is relatively rare as modern Rolex watches go. So to me the 116600 is the logical end of the trail for traditionalists who fancy owning a Sea Dweller.


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