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The Last 40mm Sea-Dweller: Rolex Sea-Dweller Reference 116600

July 28, 2018

BY Paul Altieri


At Baselworld 2014, Rolex released the Sea-Dweller 4000, reference 116600. Although its release was somewhat overshadowed by other announcements by Rolex that year, the reference 116600 Sea-Dweller aimed to fill a void that had existed since 2009.

Sea-Dweller Reference 116660 “Triple Six”

Between 2009 and 2014, Rolex did not produce a regular 40 mm Sea-Dweller. Instead, the 44 mm Sea-Dweller Deep Sea was offered, which provided users with an absolutely insane, 12,800-foot depth rating. Although the Sea-Dweller Deep Sea offered users unparalleled water resistance, its enlarged case made for a significant presence on the wrist, and many purists yearned for a contemporary Sea-Dweller that more closely followed the design of the original model.

Rolex Deepsea Ref 116660 inspired from James Cameron

Rolex Deepsea D Blue Dial ref. 116660 is able to go to 3900m.

Sea-Dweller Reference 116600

For those that felt somewhat alienated by the Sea-Dweller Deep Sea, the reference 116600 came as a relief, as it sported the exact same case diameter as the very first Sea-Dweller from 1967. Although the reference 116600 represented the contemporary equivalent of the classic 40 mm Sea-Dweller, it also received all of Rolex’s latest and greatest technologies such as their Glidelock clasp and Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel insert.

Sea-Dweller Reference 116600

The Sea-Dweller Reference 116600 is a 40mm watch.

This year at Baselworld 2017, Rolex unveiled their new Sea-Dweller reference 126600. At 43 mm in diameter and with a Cyclops magnification lens, the new reference 126600 is a significant departure from the classic 40 mm Sea-Dweller that preceded it. Additionally, the new caliber 3235 that powers the reference 126600 is of the new generation of Rolex movements, only further separating it from the various Sea-Dweller references that it replaces.

Sea-Dweller Reference 116600

The new Sea-Dweller has mixed reviews, but it is a wonderful timepiece.

The introduction of the reference 126600 marks the end of the classic 40 mm Sea-Dweller, which ultimately makes the previous reference 116600 somewhat special among the various Sea-Dweller references. In addition to being the last Sea-Dweller with a 40 mm case diameter, it is also the only 40 mm Sea-Dweller reference to have ever been fitted with a Cerachrom bezel insert.

Although the reference 116600 holds a relatively important place within Sea-Dweller history, much of its importance is a direct result of Rolex’s decision to discontinue its production. Retail sales at authorized dealers were somewhat lackluster, and its incredibly short production span of just three years resulted in significantly fewer examples on the pre-owned market than most of Rolex’s other sport model references.

Sea-Dweller Reference 116600

Get the Sea-Dweller Reference 116600 while you still can.

In all respects, the reference 116600 is very much the final iteration of the classic, tried and true Sea-Dweller design. Powered by Rolex’s venerable caliber 3135 movement, the reference 116600 adheres to a highly versatile 40 mm in case diameter, while an extra thick, Cyclops-less crystal protects the ultra-legible, monochromatic dial underneath.

For those that enjoy the look and feel of the classic 40 mm Sea-Dweller, the reference 116600 is the perfect contemporary equivalent that incorporates all of Rolex’s latest technologies and proprietary materials in a proven and familiar feeling package.



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