Rolex Sea-Dweller Specifications

Explore the evolution of the Rolex Sea-Dweller with our easily digestible timeline. From its introduction to its latest specifications.

May 4, 2023

It is difficult to get clear, authentic information about watches like the Rolex Sea-Dweller. Useful information for collectors, such as manufacture dates, specifications, and model numbers, is often buried in dozens of books, thousands of words in online articles, and primary sources such as tables. old Rolex prices and catalogs.

Based on our experience in this field (our first wristwatch timeline was published in 2012), we have gathered all this information and distilled it in one place, in a simple, easy-to-read format. Our graphic timeline follows below, following a brief introduction to the Rolex Sea-Dweller. 


To keep the information clear and simple, we have eliminated the dial's minor details, complicated "MK" branding modifications, and the serial number sequence. We have summarized the year of manufacture, model number, caliber number, depth rating, collector's nickname, and relevant related information.

The Rolex Sea-Dweller is a watch designed for professional divers – engineers, researchers and explorers who spend long periods of time underwater. It is derived from the Rolex Submariner, but Rolex reinforced it to withstand much greater pressure.

It was later discovered that helium from divers' super-pressure chambers could travel directly into the inside of their watches, causing them to explode as they ascended. As a result, Rolex equipped the Sea-Dweller with its popular exhaust valve, allowing early Hydronaut and Aquanaut science divers to safely wear their Rolex watches during long decompression cycles. 


Thus, with its helium valve and virtually incompressible body, the Rolex Sea-Dweller stands apart from technical Rolex watches. Its single functionality cannot be transferred to any other operation, which makes it the perfect example of a pure tool.

The Sea-Dweller also stands out for its model stability in the Rolex lineup. The first model, 1665, was produced for 16 years (but with gradual technical improvements).

The latest 16600 model has been in the catalog for almost 20 years, almost unheard of in Rolex models. At the time, very few of these watches were actually produced. Watch Club records imply that for watches of the "aluminum bezel" era, less than one in 10 Rolex Submariner equivalents shows up.

Such low production numbers validate the idea that Rolex has always considered the Sea-Dweller purely as a tool for professional divers and not just a commodity.

If you are a collector, this also indicates where you should focus your attention. Most Sea-Dwellers, whether Double-Red, Great White, Early Sapphire or the current Deepsea and Sea-Dweller 43 series, still represent excellent value for money, even if some examples are perfect with the box and papers are now very expensive due to their rarity required. 


Featured article cover

Patek Philippe: A Timeless Investment

Featured article cover

Own a Piece of History with Breitling Watches

Featured article cover

How To Choose The Right Automatic Watch vs Mechanical watch