Rolex, one of the first names that come to mind when it is all about diver watches, was the guest of our detailed comparison article with its well-known divers Submariner (116610LN), Sea-Dweller 4000 (116600), Deep Sea (116660).
We are here with the three kings (one king and two princes to be precise) from Rolex's Oyster Perpetual line-up. The world's first diver's watch and a living legend of design and versatility, Submariner (Ref. 116610LN), its big brother Sea-Dweller 4000 (Ref. 116600), which is more professional-activity friendly but still comfortable for daily use with its well-proportioned dimensions, and finally, the master of the Rolex diver watches, Deep Sea (Ref. 116660).
Rolex introduced the 116610LN stainless steel member of the Submariner collection, which was completely renewed in 2008, at the Baselworld watch fair in 2010. Deep Sea, which has a water-resistance of 3900 meters and a diameter of 44mm, is a very large watch for Rolex standards, was introduced in 2008. The need for a model that can be positioned between these two watches, which are both visually and technically different from each other, was more than ever. Rolex found the solution by re-introducing the good old Sea-Dweller in 2014 with updated specifications and design.
All three watches have a very similar appearance at first glance for someone who doesn’t quite know about the brand and its models. The differences that come up when you go into details and the wrist presence are completely different.
All three watches have Grade 904 stainless steel case and bracelet. All have synthetic sapphire crystal without AR coating (except for the part under the date magnifier for Submariner). The movements are also the same. All watches are powered by the refined Caliber 3135, which beats at a frequency of 4Hz/28800vph and offers a power reserve of 50 hours when fully wound. All models are COSC approved. Although the accuracy required by the COSC is + 6 / -4 per day, both models showed exceptional performance, working within a range of + 2 / -2 seconds per day. All models have blue high-visibility phosphor material (Chromalight) applied to the indices and hands.
Let's get to the differences... First, the sizes of the watches are completely different. Although Submariner and Sea-Dweller have the same diameters (40mm), Sea-Dweller looks smaller due to the case ratios. In this case, the share of short and thinner lugs is large. Besides, the crown guards around the Sea-Dweller's winding crown are smaller. Deep Sea, with its 44mm diameter, displays an imposing appearance on the wrist. There is also quite a difference between the thicknesses of the watches. Submariner is the thinnest of the group with its water resistance value of 300 meters (13mm), and Sea-Dweller is the middle member with its water resistance value of 1220 meters (15.5mm). Deep Sea is quite thick (17.7mm) with 3900 meters of water pressure resistance.
The crystals of the watches also reinforce the differences. Submariner has a flat and a relatively thinner crystal. Sea-Dweller has a much thicker crystal that has curved edges and sits higher than the bezel. The Deep Sea's crystal has a completely different form. It creates a kind of magnifier effect on the dial with its convex shape. The reason for this domed form is for functional purposes rather than aesthetics. It was necessary to design a crystal that would withstand the higher water-resistance rating. There are minor differences between the dials of watches. Besides the obvious text differences, Submariner's dial has a glossy finish while the dial surfaces of Sea-Dweller and Deep Sea are matte designed.
The case backs of those watches are designed in different thicknesses and materials according to their water resistance. While a relatively thin and blank case back is used for the Submariner, the case back of the Sea-Dweller is thicker and has model-specific inscriptions around it. In the Deep Sea model, Grade 5 titanium middle section with a stainless steel ring case back is used to both lighten the watch and increase its strength. There are also inscriptions on the stainless steel ring.
The bezels of the watches are made of black ceramic. The minute markers in the Submariner’s bezel displays the first 15 minutes in one-minute intervals and five minutes intervals for the remaining 45 minutes. In the bezels of the other two watches, indexes correspond to every single minute. The indices corresponding to the first 15 minutes are longer.
Since the watches are launched as professional diver watches, they are subjected to very challenging tests. According to these test standards, it is required to be resistant to water pressure over 25% of the waterproof value specified for every model. Therefore, Submariner is produced to withstand 375 meters, Sea-Dweller 1525 meters and Deep Sea 4875 meters. Although not required for Submariner, Sea-Dweller and Deep Sea need a helium escape valve to get to the surface safely after going to these depths.
Of course, the wrist presences are also completely different. Submariner has the most comfortable watch in the group with its relatively low weight (155 grams) and thinnest case back. Sea-Dweller's weight is still within comfortable limits (165 grams) but it stays a little higher on the wrist compared to Submariner due to the thickness of its case back. Deep Sea, on the other hand, is unexpectedly comfy with its 215-gram weight and large case, but still the least comfortable of those three watches.
Submariner and Sea-Dweller come on a bracelet starting from 20mm lug width down to 16mm at the folding clasps. Deep Sea has a 21mm lug width. All watches are equipped with micro-adjustment compatible folding clasps. Deep Sea’s mechanism is designed to be much more modern and fast operating compared to the other two watches. A three-piece foldable extension link has been added to the Sea-Dweller and Deep Sea models. This extension, which allows the watch to be worn on a diving suit, can affect the comfort issue negatively due to its approximately 1.5X link length and rigid structure.
The prices of watches also increase in direct proportion to their water-resistance values. While Submariner is the most affordable of the group with an MSRP of 7550 €, Sea-Dweller comes with a price tag of 9200 € and the Deep Sea retails for 10600 €.
We are sure that the only factor that will affect the decision of those who will choose among these three models is their taste as all three watches have a quality and elegance far above the average.