Among the new Rolex watches introduced at Baselworld this year was an updated version of the Deepsea dive watch. The Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea ref. 126660 now replaces the preceding Deepsea ref. 116660; but what exactly has changed with the new model? Today we’ll compare the brand new Deepsea 126660 vs. Deepsea 116660 to see what difference a decade makes.
The Sea-Dweller Deepsea is a watch created by Rolex able to withstand immense amounts of pressure.
Design: Rolex Deepsea 126660 vs. Deepsea 116660
The Rolex Deepsea ref. 116660 made its debut in 2008, flaunting a very large-for-Rolex 44 mm Oyster case measuring a whopping 17.7 mm thick. The size and thickness of the stainless steel case are required to achieve the Deepsea’s impressive water resistance of 3,900 meters—more than 100 times more than the depth that any person could survive! To attain this, the case is built according to Rolex’s patented Ringlock System, which includes a nitrogen-alloyed steel ring at the center of the case, a helium escape valve to rid the watch of built-up gases, a 5.5 mm thick domed sapphire crystal, and a steel and titanium caseback.
When the Deepsea ref. 116660 first came out, it housed a black dial with the familiar “Maxi dial” layout with large luminescent hour markers, luminescent Mercedes-style hand and a date window at 3 o’clock. It’s important to note that although there’s a date window on the Deepsea, there’s no Cyclops magnification lens on the sapphire crystal. In 2014, the blue-to-black gradient D-Blue dial option joined the Deepsea collection in honor of James Cameron’s historic solo dive in his Deepsea Challenger submersible to the earth’s deepest point.
Like all modern Rolex dive watches, the Deepsea is fitted with an Oyster bracelet equipped with the clever Glidelock system to permit the bracelet length to be increased by around 20 mm in 2 mm increments. However, the Deepsea also includes the Fliplock extension link, allowing for an additional 26 mm extension.
The new Deepsea ref. 216660 retains the same case size and architectural approach as the 116660, however, the lugs have been redesigned to accommodate the updated Oyster bracelet. The Deepsea ref. 216660 now features a broader Oyster bracelet (still fitted with the duo of extension systems) with 22 mm wide end links compared to the Deepsea ref. 116660’s 20 mm wide end links. As such, the Oysterlock spring-loaded safety clasp has also been resized in proportion to the wider bracelet. Like its predecessor, the Deepsea 216660 comes with the option of the black dial or the “James Cameron” D-Blue dial.
This Rolex Deepsea is a special edition inspired by James Cameron.
Movement: Rolex Deepsea 126660 vs. Deepsea 116660
While the design modifications on the exterior of the Rolex Deepsea 126660 are subtle, the new model does house a new movement—warranting the new reference number. Powering the Deepsea ref. 126660 is the excellent new-generation Caliber 3235 replacing the Caliber 3135 of the Deepsea ref. 116660.
With over 14 patents and 90% new components, Rolex Caliber 3235 boasts an increased power reserve of 70 hours compared to the 48-hour power reserve of Caliber 3135. Furthermore, since 2015, Rolex redefined their Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified label to fall under the -/+ 2 seconds per day accuracy rating. This is two times more precise than what is required by COSC to be labeled as an official chronometer.
Ten years after its debut, Rolex refreshed their extreme dive watch with just the right touches. The broader bracelet and redesigned lugs of the Deepsea ref. 126660 offer better proportions while the new movement provides the type of mechanical excellence we’ve come to expect from Rolex.