Rolex Submariner Vs Sea-Dweller
Two legendary Rolex dive masters go head to head.
Here’s the scenario: you walk into a Rolex boutique, credit card in tow, glance at the display cabinet and point to that sexy Submariner with the jet black dial and bezel you’ve always wanted. Except it’s not a Submariner.
Wait, what? After months researching the Sub, you’d think you know what it looks like, at least. But no, what you’re looking at is really a Sea-Dweller—the Sub’s brother from another mother.
Well technically it’s the same mother - they even share the same engine, the perpetual Calibre 3135 (above) with Rolex’s patented anti-magnetic, anti-shock blue Parachrom hairspring - so what sets them apart then?
Created in 1953, the Submariner (above) was a game-changer as the first watch with a waterproofness of up to 100m. An iconic model, it continues to rank as one of Rolex’s most popular collections. For a crash course on the Sub, read more here.
More than a decade younger, the Sea-Dweller (below) was born in 1967 as a further development of the Sub, even sharing its name—the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000. In 1978, the watch was renamed Sea-Dweller 4000 (in reference to its waterproofness up to 4,000ft).
Like the Milgauss which was specially developed for professionals working in a specific environment, the Sea-Dweller was developed for professionals whose job requires deep-sea diving. In other words, it’s not a dive watch you just muck around with.
Two features present in the Sea-Dweller but not the Sub are the patented helium escape valve, which you’ll need if diving to a significant depth, and Fliplock extension link which extends the bracelet by 26mm to fit comfortably over diving suits.
Also, the Sea-Dweller is waterproof up to a staggering depth of 1,220m while the Sub is waterproof up to 300m, good enough for recreational dives.
On the other hand, the Sub comes with a cyclops lens over the date window while the Sea-Dweller is devoid of one. One theory is that the Sea-Dweller’s sapphire crystal is thicker than normal and any further magnification over it, via the cyclops lens, would distort the display below. Another suggests that at the depths the Sea-Dweller can go to, the pressure would pop the cyclops lens off.
The class of 2020 Submariners come in 41mm cases, and Sea-Dweller is housed in 40mm cases. That said, the Sea-Dweller has a thicker profile and thus feels heftier than the Sub. As an everyday office watch though, you'd probably appreciate a lighter timepiece. But if you like something more substantial and tool watch-ish on your wrist, the Sea-Dweller will give you just that.
The Submariner with date window is currently retailing for S$11,440 while the Sea-Dweller 4000 is going for S$13,990. Unless you have to regularly dive deep into the ocean depths (and we mean really deep), you’d probably have no need for a watch like the Sea-Dweller. Do you really want to spend a few Gs more on a watch that’s waterproof up to 1,220m when all the water activity you engage in is swimming? We didn’t think so.
However, if you do require a waterproof watch able to withstand great pressure underwater, the Sea-Dweller is your go-to ticker. But if you’re after the tool watch look with basic dive functionality, the Sub is more than sufficient. Plus, we really dig that cyclops lens.
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