Pre-Owned Picks — 5 Generations of Rolex Sea-Dweller For You To Choose From My favorite Rolex diver in 5 different references by Robert-Jan BroerMarch 13, 2020 MIN READPre-Owned Picks — 5 Generations of Rolex Sea-Dweller For You To Choose From
My first sports Rolex was a Sea-Dweller 16600, and I think it is still one of their best looking divers’ watches in the collection. For this week’s episode of Pre-Owned Picks, I selected Rolex Sea-Dwellers from 5 different generations. From the first reference to the current steel model on steroids.
I was so proud back in 2003 when I purchased my Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 from 1996. It was a bit of a stealthy Submariner, without that cyclops but with the chronometer-certified movement inside. Water-resistant to 1,220 meters, and with the cool-looking helium valve in the case band. The sapphire crystal was thick and sat much higher on the watch than on the Submariner models. The package included a divers extension, a changing tool, and a credit card-sized decompression table. The watch has changed since then, and so did the package that comes with it. Mine wasn’t the first reference either, it was the third reference. The Sea-Dweller originates from 1967, with their reference 1665. The Sea-Dweller also left the collection for approximately five years in 2009, only to come back with some updates in 2014.
Every week we pick a few pre-owned watches from Chrono24, the largest market place for wristwatches in the world — watches that we love ourselves, or think they will be interesting to you. So to be clear, we picked the watches, Chrono24 only sent us the images without their watermark and in a proper resolution.
Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665 (€29,900)
The most famous execution of the Sea-Dweller reference 1665 is probably the Double Red Sea-Dweller, which was produced from the very first beginning till 1977 or so. From that moment on, the Sea-Dweller only came with white printing on the dial and collectors nicknamed it “Great White.” This particular watch dates back from 1979 and comes with box and papers. This 40mm Sea-Dweller was (or is) water-resistant to 610 meters and is the last version that came with a Plexi crystal. It was still in production when the successor was introduced, with a sapphire crystal. You can find these 1665 “Great White” references for less than €29,900, but this one is a complete package and in good condition. Beautiful facets on the lugs and the original dial, hands, and bezel have tritium lume in a matching color tone. The Sea-Dweller 1665 used the caliber 1575 movement. Click here to see the offer on this Sea-Dweller 1665.
Rolex Sea-Dweller 16660 (€15,900)
The same applies to this ‘Triple Six’ Sea-Dweller, the successor of the Great White, that you can find one with a more attractive price. However, this one comes as a complete package and is in original condition. The watch has been clearly worn, but that’s how it should be, in my opinion. The triple six was the first Sea-Dweller with a sapphire crystal and was in production till 1989. This particular watch dates back to 1985. The first few 16660 references came with a matte dial with printed numerals, while later (and this one here) models had a glossy dial with white gold hour marker rings. Also new to this version was the caliber 3035 movement. It now had a quick-set and a higher ticking number (28,800vph). The aluminum bezel on this watch shows some wear, but the case still has the facets properly in place. Click here or the offer on the triple six Sea-Dweller.
Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 (€7,480)
In 1989 the Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 was introduced. No fancy nicknames, and almost identical to the Triple Six. However, Rolex did introduce a new movement in this reference, the caliber 3135, with a double bridge for the balance wheel for more stability. Till approximately 1997, it used tritium for the hands, dial, and lume pip on the bezel and from that moment on, it used Super-LumiNova. The Sea-Dweller 16600 was produced until 2009, and it is quite an easy reference to find, even with box and papers (like this one). To my surprise, the prices on these are relatively stable for quite a while now. Perhaps because the Sea-Dweller was never a hot-selling model or the fact that the 16600 was in production for so long, and there are plenty out there on the market. That said, it is a great modern diver watch that tick a lot of boxes. Click here for the offer on this Sea-Dweller 16600.
Rolex Sea-Dweller 116600 (€11,330)
Right before the 16600 was discontinued in 2009, Rolex introduced the Deepsea Sea-Dweller in 2008. I will leave the Deepsea Sea-Dweller models out of the equation here, and focus on the regular Sea-Dweller watches. This Sea-Dweller 116600 is the proper successor of the 16600 and was introduced in 2014. Introduced as the Sea-Dweller 4000, referring to its water resistance in feet (but still being 1,220 meters). This Sea-Dweller was only shortlived, from 2014 till 2017. This 40mm Sea-Dweller is very similar to the 16600, but of course, with a Cerachrom ceramic bezel. This set comes with box and papers, and since it was only very shortly in production, this might be a good investment if that’s what you are after when buying a (modern) Rolex. Click here for the offer on this 116600.
Rolex Sea-Dweller 216600 (€12,200)
The biggest – or weirdest – update came in 2017, with the introduction of the Sea-Dweller 216600. Why weird? Well, not mainly because of the increased diameter from 40mm to 43mm, but primarily because of the introduction of a cyclops on this model, and the red printing on the dial. The red printing referring to the 1665 or red Submariners and the cyclops was never used on a Sea-Dweller before. Perhaps Rolex thought that the Sea-Dweller lacked recognizability or something. I will not try to explain or make assumptions on decisions taken by Rolex. Anyway, this model is currently in the catalog and has the latest caliber 3235 movement, for example. The retail price is €11,100, but as you know, the market prices (including those of pre-owned) are above retail for several Rolex references. Click here for the offer on this Sea-Dweller 216600.
I think my favorite Sea-Dweller remains to be the 16600 because that was my first Rolex sports model. However, the Sea-Dweller 1665 is overall one of my favorite vintage Rolex models. Prices are all over the place, but aside from the relatively unpopular 16600, it is easily five digits for a nice Sea-Dweller in good condition.
As always, with pre-owned watches, make sure to do your (own) research. Also, feel free to make an offer on these watches (remember, these are merely asking prices), and don’t be afraid to discuss the warranty the seller can provide. Chrono24 offers its Trusted Checkout system, so you have proper buyer protection (more here). But it never hurts to be surer than sure. Always do your homework. Spending adequate time on a purchase can help minimize frustrations further down the line.
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About the author
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in… read more
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