ROLEX Sea-Dweller 126600
At the transition between a Submariner and a Deepsea
Every year, in late March, in the halls of the " Messeplatz Fair " , ROLEX unleashes the enthusiasm of journalists and fans alike. The moment when the shutters of the windows of the ROLEX ’s stand finally go up is an event within the event, a sort of rite in which all the hypotheses and theories on the new collections that the international press have made (many of which often prove to be incorrect) melt like snow in the sun and leave the word to the truth. It is in this rite that you can see the extent of waiting and expectations that the Geneva based brand is able to generate among the crowds, and it happens only once a year for this brand, there will be no other occasions.
What is the last digit of this year? It is number 7 and this digit also measures how many years have passed by since the most famous diver’s watch was created. It was 1967 when the Sea Dweller , a faithful companion to the Comex expeditions, appeared for the first time and it was also the first time ever that a watch was being equipped with a small round valve on one side of the case to expel the helium trapped inside the case that had entered during the decompression phase of a saturation diving session (the hyperbaric chamber is filled with oxygen and helium). The Sea Dweller wasn’t the first diver’s watch in history (the first one was actually released ten years beforehand) but it was the timepiece that pioneered the modern concept of professional instrument and introduced the very first major innovation that many brands then adopted at a later stage.
The new ROLEX Sea Dweller 126600 pays tribute to the first timepiece, the original one baring the applied red inscription Sea Dweller on the dial, for the delight of collectors and lovers of the brand alike. Leaving aside this aesthetic and historical quirk, what is the real value of the largest Sea Dweller in history? The Submariner for professional divers, as I used to call it, takes a different path, increasing the size of the case up to 43mm ; a move with which ROLEX seems it wants to start and divide its hyper professional Oyster from its classic diver’s watches. It is also a logical move if seen within a strategy of clear division of collections and missions but it loses a bit of its coherence and meaning when you realize that the sapphire crystal has been equipped with a Cyclops lens for the first time; a bizarre rather than a questionable choice.
I have always liked the ROLEX Sea Dweller 126600 for its elegant tool-watch personality and its perfectly flat glass, but it is also true that, at the time of the photo shoot, I wasn’t there in person and wasn’t therefore able to touch and see the new Sea Dweller from close. The result looks like a professional and enlarged Submariner , thicker than usual. ROLEX has changed the diameter to integrate the new Sea Dweller within the category of professional diver’s watches and detach it in size (at this point, I also assume there was a likely product overlap) from the Submariners , while still leaving an aesthetic link with the Submariner and representing nearly a transitional model between the two collections. Externally, if we exclude the increase in the case diameter, which makes it as a real alternative to the DeepSea (one mm larger and even thicker), all the features that have characterized the ROLEX production since 2008 have not changed at all: the graduated uni-directional bezel sports a Cerachrom -made insert with a graduation that is coated with a thin platinum layer through a PVD -process, just to name one.
The real revolution lies inside, because the 3135 caliber has been replaced by the new 3235 caliber which already equips many of the ROLEX watches. A particularly advanced caliber, actually completely redesigned; ROLEX engineers have revamped more than 90 % of its components, they have increased its power-reserve up to 70 hours , they have introduced the Chronergy escapement, which greatly improves the efficiency of the energy transformation process going from the barrel to the regulating organ. As it always happens with ROLEX movements, effects are visible when used over a long period of time (reliability) rather than in the finishing lines that are not (and never will) be visible to the naked eye; an aspect which makes them particularly attractive and interesting for those who repair watches and those experts, who enjoy un-assembling them and then highlighting all the differences between the brand’s old and new calibers.
The new ROLEX Sea Dweller 126600 , like all the new ROLEX timepieces, ticks all the boxes to be crowned a Superlative Chronometer , whose precision is no longer certified by the COSC but rather by an internally-led and certified verification process through a procedure that has become “ in - house ” like everything else; it goes from forging the billets to craft the 904L cases in ROLEX ’s metallurgy department all the way to the production of all the components of a caliber, including the Parachrom Blue balance spring.
The new ROLEX Sea Dweller 126600 retails at a price that exceeds the 10,000-euro-threshold ( 10,550 euro to be more precise). The retails price that the brand established as a psychological threshold for its steel Oyster watches is a distant memory, but the considerations on the value of a ROLEX go beyond the canonical association between the price and the product itself, despite this threshold being recognized on the market. The features go far beyond the technical features that many of our readers are familiar with and that many would find boring to read about.
When you buy a ROLEX Sea Dweller 126600 you are not only buying an excellently built diver’s watch, but you also buy a piece of history and it is an experience that goes beyond the mere product, it also includes factors such as the brand’s appeal and the way the product is presented. The latter aspect is not secondary, despite many brands overlooking it, and it includes the elegant and premium communication model of ROLEX , whether it is the official site rather than the theme-based installation available at the booth in Basel .
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)