Throughout its history, Rolex has always focused on producing watches that would meet a specific requirement of a particular profession or sport. The GMT-Master was for pilots, the Milgauss was for scientists, the Cosmograph Daytona was for racecar drivers, and the Submariner was for scuba divers. Although Rolex already had their famous Submariner diver’s watch available in the 1960s, COMEX — the French company of commercial divers — needed watches for their pro divers that could go deeper than what was currently available. So, Rolex obliged and together, the two companies collaborated to ultimately produce the Rolex Sea-Dweller. Unveiled in 1967, the Sea-Dweller was capable of safely plunging down to an unprecedented 610 meters (2,000 feet) deep thanks to an ingenious mechanism called the Helium Escape Valve (HEV).
In order to survive ultra deep dives, professional divers have to breathe a special blend of artificial gases, including helium, underwater. Those gasses must then be safely released from their bodies during long decompression periods, as not doing so could result in injury or even death. Using a similar logic, the Rolex-patented helium escape valve allowed helium to safely be discharged automatically from the Sea-Dweller once the internal pressure reached a certain point, without disturbing the watch’s waterproofness. This groundbreaking apparatus made way for the brand’s ultra diving watches — the Rolex Sea-Dweller and the Rolex Deepsea .
In 2014, Rolex presented the latest version of the Sea-Dweller with the Sea-Dweller 4000. As its name suggests, the Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 is waterproof to an incredible 4,000 meters (12,800 feet) deep because of its HEV and Triplock screw-down crown. The 40mm stainless steel Oyster case is topped with a black unidirectional Cerachrom ceramic diver’s bezel. Worth noting is that the sapphire crystal protecting the dial of the Sea-Dweller does not have the Cyclops lens magnifying the date window that is normally found on other Rolex watches with date functions. The stainless steel Oyster bracelet is outfitted with the Glidelock system allowing wearers to seamlessly extend the length of the bracelet should they need to fit the Sea-Dweller over a diving suit.
The Sea-Dweller boasts so many interesting vintage and discontinued models such as the highly sought after Double Red Sea-Dweller (DRSD) or the Great White Sea-Dweller, both of which can only be found within the pre-owned Rolex Sea-Dweller market . For more contemporary models, a used Sea-Dweller 4000 can be found at much lower prices than retail.