Let’s face it, the price of popular steel sport Rolex models isn’t coming down anytime soon. So we’ll take a look at the 16600 Sea-Dweller, which is selling on the pre-owned market for just under $10K, which is still around double of what they were selling for just a few years ago. These were made from 1989 to 2009 and are relatively common in the secondhand market.
Photo by @mvvwatches
Alas those days are gone and one can bemoan the inflated prices on Sea-Dwellers and other popular sport models, or one can pony up and enjoy owning the right example right now If you are a higher-end watch collector chances are you are deep into a hobby that requires some extra funds to spare. If this is out of your budget range, head straight to the Tudor authorized dealer for a Pelagos, a fantastic value for the money in terms of features.
Why the aluminum bezel Sea-Dweller? Most people will think you are wearing a Submariner and only a few select aficionados will instantly recognize you have on the more serious tool watch in the Rolex diver family. The fact that there is no cyclops date magnifier makes it even more desirable. Belonging to the Sea-Dweller club is a private pleasure and you can enjoy knowing that it has a helium escape valve that you will never need.
Photo by @bythetime_watch
In an article on Fratello Watches, writer Robert-Jan Broer explains his love for this Sea-Dweller:
“...the 904L steel Sea-Dweller was generally considered to be the more professional piece compared to the Submariner. Featuring a water resistance of 1220 meters (4,000 feet) and an automatic helium escape valve on the side of the case. What I found to be one of the coolest features, was the raised crystal. This incredibly thick chunk of sapphire was essential in making sure that the watch could handle so much pressure.”
Photo by @stipey99
I realize that older Rolex sports watches aren’t for everyone. The smaller markers and rattly bracelet can be perceived as lower in quality compared to today’s ceramic bezel insert models. But for me, these attributes are what make the 16600 so special: It’s dated but it captures a time when Rolex was really pushing the limits of watch engineering.
Menswear blogger Lawrence Schlossman describes the appeal of the 16600 in a bold manner, telling Black Bird Spy Plane why it’s not like a Submariner: “Yeah except the Sea Dweller has a thick-ass case, it goes twice as deep as the Sub — I like it because it’s substantial, it’s beefy, and I love having a date on my watch but this ref has a date with no cyclops, and it’s nice to have that cleaner face.”