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Rolex Submariner 116610 vs. Sea-Dweller 126600

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Paul Altieri

Thinking of getting a Rolex dive watch but haven’t settled on which model to get yet? Maybe this comparison between the Rolex Submariner 116610 and the Sea-Dweller 126600 will help you decide. Read on to discover the similarities and differences between these two ceramic-clad stainless steel Rolex divers.

Submariner 116610

Design: Submariner 116610 vs. Sea-Dweller 126600

At first glance, the Submariner 116610 LN and the Sea-Dweller 126600 are quite similar in looks. After all, both of them have 904L stainless steel Oyster cases, black Cerachrom ceramic bezels, black dials with a date window, and stainless steel Oyster bracelets. However, if we take a closer look at these components, the differences begin to reveal themselves.

Submariner 116610

Firstly, the Submariner 116610 and the Sea-Dweller 126600 may have similar appearances; however, their cases are actually different sizes. The Submariner’s case has a 40mm diameter, while the Sea-Dweller’s case measures 43mm. Although previous versions of the Sea-Dweller had 40mm cases, the extra 3mm makes for a noticeably larger presence on the wrist and helps accommodate the Sea-Dweller’s helium escape valve, which allows it to be used for saturation diving. Let’s not forget that the Sea-Dweller is water-resistant to 1,220 meters (4,000 feet!), which is four times the Sub’s 300-meter depth rating.

If we turn our attention to the unidirectional bezels on both watches, we’ll see that the Submariner’s Cerachrom bezel insert includes markings for each of the first 15 minutes followed by markings for every 5 minutes. On the other hand, the Sea-Dwellers’ Cerachrom bezel insert has graduations all the way around the bezel for the complete 60 minutes. Both bezels include a luminescent pearl at 12 o’clock.

Submariner 116610

Moving to the face of the watches, we see that they have almost identical layouts with lume-filled hour makers framed by white gold, luminous Mercedes-style hands, and a date window at the 3 o’clock location. Additionally, with the introduction of the ref. 126600, Rolex added a Cyclops magnification lens to the crystal of the Sea-Dweller, bringing these two watches even closer together. Both of these Rolex divers have Chromalight as their luminous material, which glows blue in the dark. Of course, the text on the dials differs to reflect each watch’s model name and depth rating, with the Sea-Dweller embracing red text for its name – an homage to the original version of the Sea-Dweller from the 1960s.

The biggest difference between the tapered Oyster bracelets of the Submariner 116610 and the Sea-Dweller 126600 is the clasp. Both bracelets come equipped with a folding Oysterlock safety clasp and the Glidelock extension system. However, the Sea-Dweller is further equipped with the Fliplock extension link so that the bracelet can extend by an additional 26mm to fit over a thicker wetsuit.

Submariner 116610

Movement, Production, and Price: Submariner 116610 vs. Sea-Dweller 126600

The Submariner 116610 runs on Rolex’s Caliber 3135 movement, which has a power reserve of about 42 hours. On the other hand, the Sea-Dweller 126600 is powered by the Caliber 3235, which offers users a 70-hour power reserve.  Interestingly, if you flip the watches around to look at the fluted casebacks that protect the movements, you’ll notice that the Sea-Dweller features an inscription (ROLEX OYSTER SEA-DWELLER. ORIGINAL GAS ESCAPE VALVE) on the steel surface – not a common sight on Rolex watches. Conversely, the Submariner, like most Rolex watches) has an unmarked caseback.

Submariner 116610

The Submariner 116610LN made its debut at Baselworld 2010 and continues to be a part of Rolex’s current catalog today. Rolex launched the Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 in 2017 as an update to the 40mm version of the Sea-Dweller, and since it has only been in production for a couple of years, there are significantly fewer examples of the Sea-Dweller 126600 available the secondary market than the Submariner 116610LN.

The Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 retails for $11,350. However these days, they often sell for more than their retail price on the secondary market due to lengthy waitlists for the watch at authorized retailers. Additionally, although the ref. 126600 is Sea-Dweller is still in production, it has only been available for a couple years, so there are a relatively small number in existence.

Although the official retail price of the Submariner 116610LN is $8,550, it’s no secret that it is challenging to even find one for sale at a Rolex boutique these days, thanks to their incredibly high demand. Subsequently, expect to pay closer to $10,000 for a pre-owned Submariner ref. 116610LN and a few thousand more for an unworn example on the secondary market.

Submariner 116610

To sum up, the new Sea-Dweller 126600 is more water-resistant, less common, larger, and more expensive than the current Submariner 116610LN. Nevertheless, no one can deny that the Submariner is by far the more popular dive watch between the two. In fact, the Submariner is without a doubt the most famous diver in the watch world, period. Therefore, the Submariner 116610LN offers wider appeal while the Sea-Dweller 126600 is beloved by a smaller niche.

Among these two, which Rolex diver is your favorite?

Submariner 116610
Paul Altieri
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