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)
120 clicks
Black Cerachrom (ceramic)
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?

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