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by Theresa DiMartini January 07, 2021 4 min read

What’s in a name? In the case of the Rolex Sea-Dweller and the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller, these two similar names represent two very different watches. If you’re a lurker on Rolex message boards, you may see SD and DSSD used liberally. For people new to Rolex, the differences between the Sea Dweller and the Deepsea Sea Dweller can seem confusing or obscure. No worries. We’re here to help explain the differences between these two great watches. You’ll be able to post on a forum or engage in a conversation with a serious collector without fear, and we get an excuse to review all the best features of two amazing watches. It’s a win-win situation.  

THE ROLEX SEA-DWELLER  

The Rolex Sea-Dweller is a watch that followed the development of the Submariner, and it was built for commercial deep sea saturation diving. In the ‘60s, French diving company Comex had divers descending to even deeper depths, and they needed an even more robust diver for these excursions. To support advances in saturation diving, Rolex developed the helium escape valve so watches wouldn't explode in depressurization chambers. When the HEV was developed, dive watches were still an important part of diving technology. As computers took the place of dive watches, they became emblems of prior time in ocean exploration. The Sea-Dweller is one of the finest examples of technology that allowed humans to plumb unforeseen depths.  

deeps Everest rubber rolex

THE ROLEX DEEPSEA SEA-DWELLER 

The Deepsea Sea Dweller is a variant of the Sea-Dweller. The primary difference between the original Sea Dweller and the Deepsea Sea-Dweller is that the DSSD is Rolex’s most extreme example of deep diving technology. It’s tested to withstand water pressure at up to 3,900 meters and boasts an extra thick crystal to prevent it from shattering from the extreme pressure. It’s also equipped with a stainless steel circle inside the case, known as the Ringlock System, to protect it from intense pressure under water. People who buy the Deepsea usually have a personal relationship to diving or a special appreciation for the cutting edge technology on their wrists. (Although some simply love the D-blue gradient dial and bold bezel style of the Deepsea.)

Choosing Between the Sea-Dweller and the Deepsea Sea-Dweller

We understand your dilemma all too well. You have 12k in your pocket, and you don’t know which dive watch to spend it on. You know you don’t want a Submariner because you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path. You’ve narrowed it down to the Sea-Dweller and the Deepsea, and you need an objective opinion. We’re here to help. Read the following statements and see if any apply to you. We’ll break down the comparison between the two watches to help you make the final call. 


“I need a Cyclops.” 

If a date magnifier is a must-have for you, the Sea-Dweller is the way to go. Due to the need for greatest structural integrity, you won’t find a date window on the Deepsea. (Dates are a little less important to saturation divers than, say, minutes they’ve been under water.) If you’re constantly surprised that it’s Thursday, choose the Sea-Dweller. Purists hate the Cyclops on this diver, but it definitely makes it easier for surreptitious wrist checks to try and determine if that meeting at 2 is today or tomorrow. 

“I think bigger is better.”

It’s hard to get beefier than the Deepsea Sea-Dweller. A 44 mm case, extra thick sapphire crystal, and a gigantic stainless steel ring around the dial all add up to equal a pretty imposing profile on the wrist. The Deepsea definitely isn’t ignorable, especially one with the James Cameron D-Blue dial. If by “bigger” you’re referring to what’s underneath the dial, you won’t be disappointed with either model. Both watches house Rolex’s Caliber 3235. You’ll get access to the blue Parachrom hairspring, the Chronergy escapement, a still-shocking power reserve of 70+ hours, and COSC-certified accuracy of +2/-2 seconds per day.   

“It’s all about the Benjamins for me.” 

If you love both styles but want to save money on your purchase, the Sea-Dweller is the way to go. Because it’s a specialized watch, the DSSD commands a high price, both at retail and on the secondhand market. However, if you’re looking for an investment piece you’d like to see appreciate, the Deepsea Sea-Dweller tends to gain a little more value year over year than the Sea-Dweller. It’s not a huge margin by any means, though, so if you prefer the look of the Sea-Dweller, it will still make an excellent buy. 

A Choice With Less (Water) Pressure

Choosing between SD and DSSD is a tough choice. Choosing between two colors of a watch band is a little easier. If you’re ready for a simpler decision, order an Everest Bands strap for your Rolex. Our Sea-Dweller straps come in so many colors, and the collection also includes a two-color strap as well as nylon and leather options. A rubber strap brings a ruggedness to a dive watch that complements the hardware inside. Thousands of Rolex-owners choose our carefully designed Swiss-made rubber watch bands. You won’t believe how good it looks on your wrist.  

Written by: Meghan Clark

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Theresa DiMartini
Theresa DiMartini



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