The Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 is a high-performance diving watch that even meets professional standards. Its ceramic bezel, automatic helium escape valve, and in-house caliber set this watch from the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer apart.
The Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 is one of the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer's top-performing diving watches. Its 40-mm stainless steel case is water resistant to 1,200 m, which translates to 4,000 ft, hence the watch's name. This watch has the reference number 116600 and was first introduced in 2014. It is the successor of the Sea-Dweller ref. 16600, which had been replaced six years before by the Sea-Dweller Deepsea. The Deepsea is water resistant to 3,900 m (390 bar, 12,795 ft). However, at 44 mm, it is not suited to every wrist, which is why Rolex decided to bring back the Sea-Dweller 4000 as an alternative professional model.
The Sea-Dweller 4000 is a professional tool for every diver: It features the especially secure Triplock crown, a helium escape valve for saturation diving , and a unidirectional bezel with a black ceramic inlay. Its large, applied indices and hands are coated with the luminous material Chromalight and glow bright blue in the dark, which contrasts nicely with the black dial. The chronometer-certified caliber 3135 ticks away inside the case and deviates a maximum of +/- 2 seconds per day. It also provides the watch with its date display at 3 o'clock. Unlike its smaller relative, the Rolex Submariner, the Sea-Dweller 4000 has no cyclops lens.
The Sea-Dweller 4000 has been absent from the Rolex catalog since 2017. It was replaced by the Sea-Dweller with the reference number 126600. This watch sets itself apart with its larger 43-mm case, red "Sea-Dweller" inscription on the dial, and cyclops lens over the date display.
|Model||Price (approx.)||Water resistant to||Size|
|Sea-Dweller 4000, Ref. 116600||13,200 USD||1,220 m (122 bar, 4,000 ft)||40 mm|
|Sea-Dweller, Ref. 126600||14,700 USD||1,220 m (122 bar, 4,000 ft)||43 mm|
|Deepsea, Ref. 116660||11,100 USD||3,900 m (390 bar, 12,795 ft)||44 mm|
|Submariner, Ref. 16610||8,600 USD||300 m (30 bar, 984 ft)||40 mm|
The Sea-Dweller 4000 has experienced a massive increase in value since its replacement with a new model in 2017. Prices for watches with the reference number 116600 have risen rapidly, meaning you can expect to have to pay around 13,200 USD for never-worn models. Pre-owned models are slightly less expensive. Depending on the watch's condition, prices begin around 11,100 USD for watches with visible signs of wear and 11,800 USD for those in very good condition.
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 made out of 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 water-resistant 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.
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 deepsea 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 .
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 bezel is made of a very scratch resistant ceramic, which Rolex calls "Cerachrom". This is quite important, 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 marker, 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.
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 also uses this movement in the Sea-Dweller Deepsea as well as the Submariner.
A diving watch's band should be easy 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 are the same size and have largely similar designs. One difference is the cyclops lens over the date display at 3 o'clock on the Submariner. This convex bulge in the sapphire glass is not found on the Sea-Dweller 4000.