We all know — and love — that Rolex celebrates iconic anniversaries, and more often than not it’s a sophisticated touch here and there. Think back to the Rolex Submariner (ref 16610LV), where we saw a green bezel, or the more recent Rolex Day-Date 40 copy (60th anniversary Edition), with a stunning green dial. For all that, they’re instantly recognisable: Rolex are subtle — one of their core strengths is to design and manufacture timeless wristwatches. A Submariner from 1970 looks just as good as a current production Submariner, and that’s because Rolex doesn’t do rapid change. They move to the beat of their own drum.
So, when the doors to the fair opened, attendees (myself included) swarmed to the Rolex booth, fighting to get the first glimpse of exactly what this would be. Glistening in the window sat the brand new 50th Anniversary Sea-Dweller. Since that initial exciting glimpse, I’ve managed to spend a bit more time with the new Sea-Dweller reference 126600, which replaces the short-lived reference 116600, known to many as the ‘SD4K’.
Obviously, the first and most notable design change on the new Sea-Dweller fake were the re-introduction of the red font to the dial. Now present, in a sharp red text that reads ‘Sea-Dweller’. This is a nice nod to the original 1967 Sea-Dweller (ref 1665), which featured those famous two lines of text (Sea-Dweller, Submariner 2000), popularly referred to as the ‘Double Red Sea-Dweller’. We also saw a change to the dial finish itself; previously being black with a satin finish, the new Sea-Dweller, although still black, has a gloss finish. The new glossy dial really accentuates the crisp red text, ensuring it stands out.
Like its predecessor, lovely luminescent blue hour markers and hands mark the time. Of course, legibility is never an issue when it comes to Rolex sports watches, and the Sea-Dweller is no different.
The case and bracelet
The big news about the reference 126600 Sea-Dweller is the larger, bolder, 43mm case — made from their 904L steel. Now, for reference, the now discontinued SD4K came in a 40mm case and the current Rolex Deepsea models both come in a 44mm case. At 43mm, the case is definitely on the larger size, for some, too large. But diameter is only half the story when it comes to how large a watch wears, and in terms of thickness, this case remains unchanged at 15mm. Like its predecessor, the Sea-Dweller is still waterproof to 4000 feet, or 1220 metres.
The Sea-Dweller’s replica watches boosted case is restrained nicely by the Oyster bracelet, which allows a great level of control for the wearer (so you need not worry about the case flopping around). Featuring the very useful Fliplock diver’s extension allows for an extra 26mm of bracelet — perfect for actual, wetsuit-wearing divers. Of more use to most is the Glidelock system, which allows the wearer to make adjustments to the size of the bracelet, in 2mm increments, up to 20mm. This is also a much appreciated feature to those living in varied climates, and having that level of control over the fit of the bracelet makes this watch exceptionally comfortable. Again, the bracelet also features Rolex’s Oysterlock safety clasp, fastening it securely into place.