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The Rolex Submariner versus the Rolex Sea-Dweller

Does the Sea-Dweller’s performance outclass the iconic, popular Submariner? That’s just one of many questions collectors often find themselves discussing when caught in an endless debate on which timepiece would be better to invest in. Let’s explore the differences between the timepieces and find out which are some of the best features in each.

the rolex submariner

Rolex Submariner
Some of our customers believe that “you can’t really go wrong” with the Submariner. Created in 1953 and launched the following year, this was Rolex’s first dive watch, starting at 100m water resistance and continually improved to 300m. It was a ground-breaking innovation then, and some distinct components were also added throughout the years including the Oyster bracelet and scratch-proof Cerachrom bezel.

64 years later, what makes the Submariner still so popular? Featured in Ian Fleming’s 1973 Live and Let Die with Roger Moore as James Bond, the classic Submariner Ref. 5513 in the film was strong enough to deflect bullets and unzip a dress without Bond having to use his hands. It’s no wonder why this watch is a huge deal in Rolex’s history as it played a crucial role in defining masculinity.

A perfect, functional first for Rolex and a pop culture icon, the timepiece remains significant till today through its occasional range refresh such as the green dial and bezel to suit the growing audience of both men and women.

the rolex sea dweller

Rolex Sea-Dweller
Introduced in 1967, the Sea-Dweller is the younger brother of the Submariner. A rarer and special find, the first Sea-Dweller was known as the Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000 Ref. 1665, which is technically an extension of the Submariner family back then. You would find similar characteristics such as the patented Triplock triple waterproofness system for its winding crown and Chromalight display for visibility in dark environments.
However, the Sea-Dweller is a disruptive innovation. Built for performance, Rolex’s efforts for this range are results-driven and based on decades of collaboration with diving professionals. The timepiece promises 1,200m water resistance, four times the depth rating of a Submariner, features a much thicker crystal and a bigger diameter for ultimate pressure resistance.

Although the Sea-Dweller and the Submariner have similar attributes especially during its prototyping stage, one of the distinct differences is the striking red ‘Sea-Dweller’ printed against the black dial. Some of the watches from the prototype stage had case backs engraved with the words “Patent Pending” and are now very valuable at auctions.

Between the extremely popular, classic Submariner and the robust, extreme performance Sea-Dweller timepieces, it is hard to recommend one over the other. While both watches have characteristics that fulfil different functions, a better recommendation would be based on the wearer’s lifestyle needs and aspirations.

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