Rolex Sea-Dweller Differences: New VS Old

NEW: Sea-Dweller OLD: Sea-Dweller 4000
Introduced: Baselworld 2017 Baselworld 2014
Reference: 126600 116600
Movement: Automatic Automatic
Caliber: Rolex caliber 3235 Rolex caliber 3135
COSC? Yes Yes
Case Material: 904L Stainless steel 904L Stainless steel
Case Diameter: 43mm 40mm
Thickness: 15mm 15mm (needs confirmed with a precision caliper)
Helium Escape Valve? Yes Yes
Bezel: Black Cerachrom (ceramic)
Uni-directional
120 clicks
Black Cerachrom (ceramic)
Uni-directional
120 clicks
Dial: Black with glossy finish Black with satin finish
Sea-Dweller Text: Red White
Lume: Chromalight Chromalight
Rehaut Engraved? Yes Yes
Crystal: Sapphire Sapphire
Cyclops Lens? Yes No
Band: Oyster bracelet
Oysterlock clasp
Glidelock extension system
Fliplock extension link
Oyster bracelet
Oysterlock clasp
Glidelock extension system
Fliplock extension link
Crown: Triplock screw-down Triplock screw-down
Water Resistance: 4,000ft / 1,220m 4,000ft / 1,220m
Retail Price at Launch: $11,350 USD $10,400 USD

Differences are in blue

Some of points in the chart above might seem obvious but we wanted to be as specific as possible to show the similarities and differences between the new and old Sea-Dweller professional dive watches.

The overall differences that are going to make or break your decision between a 126600 over a 116600 are:

  1. The larger 43mm case size
  2. The addition of a Cyclops lens over the date
  3. The red Sea-Dweller text

As an aside: The bezel does appear to be wider on the new model, but we do not have specifications to confirm that, so it was left out of the chart.

Many Rolex enthusiasts predicted that the Sea-Dweller text on the new model to be in different color than white. That was expected, but the most surprising things about the Baselworld 2017 Sea-Dweller were the large 43mm size and the Cyclops over the date.

Rolex has been slow and calculated about enlarging the case sizes beyond 41mm, and the new 43mm came at quite a shock. This new diameter is going to be a desirable size for many, but a real deal-breaker for some.

Although the larger size might not be for everybody, the 43mm diameter allowed for the caliber 3235 to have a larger barrel than the old model’s caliber 3135. This change gives the new model a very useful 70 hour power reserve. Now you can have an extra day or so between wearing the watch and having to set it to the correct time.

The same can be said about the iconic look of the Cyclops date magnification lens. One of the biggest differences between the Rolex Submariner and the Sea-Dweller was the helium release valve and the Cyclops lens. The Sub has it, but the Sea-Dweller didn’t – until now. This was what attracted many dive watch collectors to the Sea-Dweller… most collectors either love the Cyclops or hate it. It was nice to have the option before, but now the option is gone – you will have a Cyclops lens or you will not have a new Sea-Dweller.

Here is our review of the newer 50th Anniversary Sea-Dweller from Baselworld 2017. Here is our Watch Identifier post about the Sea-Dweller 4000 back at Baselworld 2014.

Which Rolex Sea-Dweller model do you prefer: The new 126600 or old 116600?

32 Responses

  1. TigerBeach28

    As an amateur diver the new Sea Dweller is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen because you don’t need a date when you’re diving!

    Reply
    • KeepTheTime Admin

      But the old one had a date too. By the way, do you dive down at Tiger Beach?

      Reply
    • KeepTheTime Admin

      The new one is as much of a Sea-Dweller as the older one, but to each their own 😉

      Reply
  2. Randy

    Thanks for making this clear. I kinda like the new one… better start saving now!

    Reply
    • KeepTheTime Admin

      Thanks for the comment, glad it could be useful to our readers. It’s a good idea to start saving now lol. $11,350 retail and you won’t see them hit the pre-owned market for a long while!

      Reply
      • Watch Addict

        I bet every Rolex store already has them sold before they even got them in stock. That’s what brands love about blogs like this is that you do all the selling and marketing for them.

  3. Nicola

    I love it. Everything of it, including the wider band that was not mentioned above. Size wise it is perfectly balanced now. I will trade in my 116600 as soon as the new one is out. Regarding the cyclops.. Rolex finally was able to fix a technical issue that prevented it from being present at the start. I agree the date on dive watch is questionable.. but then only the sub no-date would make sense. But everyone knows that the best selling Rolex of all time is the submariner with date and cyclops.

    Reply
      • Watch Addict

        Maybe they couldn’t get the cyclops to stick on the crystal with higher pressures that come with 4,000 feet water depths? That’s why the DEEPSEA doesn’t have one.

    • Jack

      Keep the 116600 and put it in a safe… for sure a better return on investment than putting it in the bank!

      Reply
  4. Benzo

    Do you think I should get my 116600 now or wait for the 126600? If I get the 116600 now will it increase in value? Thanks

    Reply
  5. Nicola

    I heard from a friend at an official Rolex dealer that the new SD will arrive as soon as May. So not much to wait. Unfortunately he also mentioned that there will be no discount off the list price, so it will be much more expensive than the 116600, which could be had at over 15% off. He mentioned receiving only about 2 watches per month, so there might be some waiting list.

    Reply
    • KeepTheTime Admin

      Congrats, Nicola! August isn’t too bad. Come back to post a wristshot when you get it. What will you be wearing until then?

      Reply
  6. Nicola

    Actually a person called my dealer asking for a 116600; Said he was not interested in the new model. So my watch is gone. 🙁 but I managed to sell it for 500 $ more than what I paid new.

    Reply
    • Craig Mack

      I don’t understand, you sold your 116600 and are waiting for the new one? What did you get for your 116600? I never wanted a 116600 before but after I saw the 126600 I suddenly wanted the 116600. So that’s where I am now.

      Reply
  7. Nicola

    Yes that is correct. I sold it for 8700 euros, bought it for 8200 exactly one year ago, list price was 9700.

    Reply
  8. Mike

    Is the cyclops plastic or Sapphire? Please send answer to my e
    mail.

    Reply
    • KeepTheTime Admin

      Hi Mike, the cyclops lens on the new Sea-Dweller will be constructed out of sapphire. This answer has also been sent directly to your email.

      Reply
  9. Geo Mich

    It is 3 yrs since Sea-Dweller 4000 was introduced and the production has stopped. Brilliant. The prices quickly will go up. It will be shortly one of the most desirable watches.

    Reply
  10. Alex Hoks

    I gad my 126600 today, and I paid surcharge for it…. Unfortunately! But here is the good news, I am a tech-diver/trimix and I was born in 1967, (50 this year, like the sea dweller)… + I am a real ROLEX fan, always wore that brand, so I had to have this watch! I wear many other brands, but ROLEX is just ROLEX, nothing beats it….

    Reply
    • KeepTheTime Admin

      Congrats on your new Sea-Dweller watch! We’d love to see it on your wrist!

      Reply
  11. Robert

    I’d be happy to know the total lengths (lug-to-lug) comparison data!
    Choices: for new model: upgraded movement, red script on dial.
    For old model: no cyclops, better size (for me) at 40 mm.
    Best,
    Robert

    Reply
  12. Justin

    Can anybody tell me that how the precise thickness of new sea-dweller 126600 is? I have known the thinkness of the old 116600 might be 14.8mm and wondering that new 126600 have the same thickness.

    Reply
  13. Justin

    Can anybody tell me that what the precise thickness of new sea-dweller 126600 is? I have known the thinkness of the old 116600 might be 14.8mm and wondering that new 126600 have the same thickness.

    Reply
    • KeepTheTime Admin

      That is an excellent question that we will get to the bottom of. We have listed it at 15mm, but will get a hold of one to put up against a precision caliper. So far, none of the other blogs have done this. Check back soon for the results.

      Reply
    • KeepTheTime Admin

      Hi Nicola, congrats on your new SD! Please feel free to email us a wristshot and we’ll add it to the post. Thank you.

      Reply

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