One of the best diving watches celebrated its comeback in the form of the Sea-Dweller 4000. A ceramic bezel, helium escape valve, and an in-house caliber make this watch stand out. The Sea-Dweller 4000 has been part of the collection since 2014.
- Waterproof to 1,220 m (4,000 ft)
- 40-mm case
- Helium escape valve to equalize pressure
- Unidirectional, rotating ceramic bezel
Built for Extreme Depths
The Sea-Dweller 4000 is an extremely efficient stainless steel diving watch. It can reach depths of 1,220 m (4,000 ft) and takes the second part of its name from that impressive ability.
The Sea-Dweller was a member of the Rolex
family from 1967 to 2008. However, during the next six years, from 2008 to 2014, the Sea-Dweller Deepsea was the only watch available for diving to extreme depths
. It was designed to withstand depths to 3,900 m (12,800 ft), though recreational divers typically only dive to about 30 - 40 m (100 - 130 ft). Therefore, it's not necessarily vital for them that the watch can go to such incredible depths. Submarines don't even go that deep. In contrast, the Sea-Dweller 4000 reaches 1,200 m (4,000 ft).
Something else was a much more crucial deciding factor for wearers: The original Sea-Dweller had a mid-size case diameter of 40 mm, unlike the Deepsea, which was 44 mm. Rolex fans missed this smaller size, so the manufacturer decided to create the Sea-Dweller 4000 in the original smaller size. Rolex introduced the watch at the Baselworld watch show in 2014. The larger Deepsea remains in production.
Buying Advice for the Sea-Dweller 4000
Are you looking for a mid-sized diving watch that has much more to offer
in terms of pressure resistance than the standard 20 bar models
? Then you should consider the Sea-Dweller 4000. This Rolex was designed to sustain depths of 4,000 ft (1,220 m). Professional divers normally work in depths down to 200 m (650 ft), making these watches more than suitable for professional use. Most Sea-Dweller 4000 wearers are fans of its technical capabilities
. When you wear this watch primarily on land, it really shows its robust qualities - it's almost indestructible. With the typical Submariner
look, the Sea-Dweller doesn't only go well with a wetsuit, but works as a general sport watch ready for anything
. For a new Sea-Dweller 4000 with reference number 116600, you should be prepared to pay around 9,000 euros
Alternatives to the Sea-Dweller 4000
- Breitling Avenger II Seawolf, 3,000 m (9,850 ft), new for 4,000 euros
- Sinn U1, 1,000 m (6,560 ft), new for less than 2,000 euros
- IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000, 2,000 m (6,560 ft), new for less than 8,000 euros
An Impermeable Case
The Sea-Dweller 4000's 40-mm case and three-piece link metal bracelet are made of 904L stainless steel. Rolex considers this type of steel to be particularly tough and noncorrosive. The case is a single piece of steel and screwed together with the case back. Sapphire glass covers the Sea-Dweller 4000's dial. In order to prevent water from leaking in through the crown, Rolex equipped the watch with a so-called Triplock crown system. The crown's winding stem is a potential weak point in every waterproof watch, as it's an additional opening in the case. Rolex uses four rubber o-ring gaskets to prevent water and dirt from finding their way into the case. The crown remains screwed to the case in its normal position; it's only unscrewed to set or wind the watch.
Helium Escape Valve
A special feature of the Sea-Dweller is its helium escape valve
. This type of valve is only found on diving watches meant for professional use, such as the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
. The valve prevents damage due to excess pressure
after long periods of time spent underwater. In diving chambers, where people can stay for days or even weeks, divers breathe a special mix of oxygen and helium. The pioneering phase of long-dive diving watches began in the 1960s. Back then, helium molecules would find their way into the watch because they're so small. This would cause excess pressure inside the watch as the divers were resurfacing, resulting in the watch's glass popping out. Rolex combated this problem by inventing the escape valve. While it functions manually on some watches, on the Sea-Dweller 4000, it functions automatically
Ceramic Bezel with Platinum
A toothed, unidirectional, rotating bezel with 60-minute graduations is an indispensable part of a true diving watch. The graduations help the diver tell how much time they've been underwater. To set the bezel correctly, you turn the zero marker to the same position as the minute hand at the beginning of your dive. Accidentally extending the dive time can be dangerous, as the diver could run out of air. Therefore, most of these bezels can only be turned counterclockwise, as is the case with the Sea-Dweller 4000. Its Cerachrom ceramic bezel is very scratch resistant, which is helpful, as this piece of the watch is constantly exposed. Rolex chose to finish the numerals and lines on the bezel with an exquisite material, platinum.
The luminous material Chromalight covers the hands, indices, and bezel zero marking, making it possible to read the watch in the dark. Unlike Superluminova, which glows green, Chromalight glows a unique blue. Furthermore, according to Rolex, Chromalight has an especially long lifetime. During the day, it appears white and creates a contrast against the black dial.
Precise, In-House Movement
The in-house caliber 3135 powers the Sea-Dweller 4000. The natural movement of your arm winds it automatically and it has a power reserve of 48 hours. The caliber's frequency is 4 Hz, which is equal to 28,800 alternations per hour. Among experts, it has a reputation for being robust and precise. The Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) certified the watch as incredibly precise. Rolex uses this movement in the Sea-Dweller Deepsea as well as the Submariner.
Fliplock and Glidelock: Flexible Bracelets
A diving watch's band shouldn't be complicated to adjust, as it needs to be large enough to fit over a wetsuit. Therefore, the Sea-Dweller features both Glidelock and Fliplock technology. The Glidelock clasp extends the bracelet to 20 mm in 2 mm increments, and the Fliplock extension links allow the bracelet to be adjusted by a further 26 mm.
The Sea-Dweller 4000 and the Submariner have the same case size and resemble each other in design. One difference is the Cyclops lens over the date display at three o'clock on the Submariner. This extra piece of sapphire glass is not on the Sea-Dweller 4000.