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Rolex Deep Sea Sea-Dweller 116660

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Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel

The Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller, ref. 116660 is not for the faint of heart - it's for the folks trying to discover creatures in the deep, deep ocean that would vindicate an 18th century novelist. Depth rated to an extravagant 3,900 meters or approximately 12,800 feet this is the most serious Rolex you could hope to own, and you need it. This is an absolutely straightforward, no nonsense monument to technical achievement but it's been built to actually wear: 44mm brushed stainless case with matching Oyster bracelet, titanium case back, helium escape valve, black "maxi" dial with Chromalight lumed hour markers and Mercedes hands, Rolex patented black Cerachrom ceramic bezel and the Sea-Dweller standard small date at 3 sans cyclops. The text is white, which is how its been for every Sea-Dweller since the late 1970s, but now includes the line "Deepsea," which is a great statement. Released at the 2008 Baselworld Fair, this watch replaced the 40mm Sea-Dweller ref. 16600, and as could be expected caused quite a kerfuffle in the Rolex community. A 4mm jump in size was significant, but so too was the commitment Rolex was making to oceanic exploration - with the wildly advanced depth rating - so the conversations went both ways. Technology-wise it shares features with the Submariner in the screw-down, Triplock crown and the in-house Rolex 3135 caliber but that it's, this is an animal unto itself. Overall, one of the things that makes the Sea-Dweller so great is that is was purposely built to solve a rather significant issue at the time. In the mid-1960s the US Navy, Jacques Cousteau and the Compagnie Maritime d'Expertises (COMEX) company were all separately developing deep water saturation diving techniques when COMEX came to Rolex with a problem: accumulated helium at depth was causing the crystals of their Rolex Submariners to pop off during decompression, which obviously isn't acceptable. Rolex responded by developing and then fitting a one-way helium escape valve to a handful of COMEX Subs but instead of forever modifying the Submariner line Rolex just made a brand new watch for brand new professional needs, a la the Sea-Dweller. It had a beefier case, thicker crystal, greater depth capability, helium valve, etc, which has been its m.o. ever since. This 116660 is a tool watch that goes beyond the professional capabilities of almost everyone but it's such an expression of Rolex's technical prowess and pioneering sensibilities that it's just terrific in scope and execution. For the price of this watch you could have a Submariner but you'll be making a more far reaching statement with the Deepsea. This watch is madcap in the luxury market, it stands alone.

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