It seems that with the dearth of new Rolex dive watches available at retail, one must turn to the pre-owned market. The Sea-Dweller without a cyclops magnifying lens may be one of the best purchases in the current marketplace if you are dead set on owning one of the classic Rolex models. The aluminum bezel insert of the five-digit series makes for a more subdued appearance than the ceramic models. At just around $10K, the Sea-Dweller models from the late 1990s to early 2000s are priced very high, but there’s no way around that based on demand. That said, if you want a black dial classic diver, I’ll help you justify adding one to your collection.
Photo by John Torcasio
If you don’t want to pay that premium, I hear you. A great alternative to the Sea-Dweller is the Tudor Pelagos, which can be purchased for around the $4K mark. It retails for $4,575. At 42mm, it does wear large, but not so much that it would look too oversized on a 6.5-inch wrist. Based on personal experience, the Pelagos is pretty hefty for a titanium watch. While I’m no expert on titanium, the Pelagos felt a lot heavier on the wrist than a much larger Seiko MM600 in titanium. Technically, the Pelagos is incredible. It has a 500m water resistance rating, a helium escape valve (like the Sea-Dweller) and a really cool clasp that can expand without user manipulation. It’s really a purpose-built diver with a fully lumed bezel too.
Photo by Time and Tide
Both the Sea-Dweller and Pelagos have features that far exceed the requirements of most people, who would probably only take them for a dip in the ocean or pool anyway. That said, owning a technical marvel in a device as compact as a watch is a lot of the fun of watch collecting anyway. It’s less expensive than ponying up for an off-road vehicle that doesn’t really go off-road. But you get the personal satisfaction of wearing a really cool, and cool-looking, technical feat.
What I really like about the Pelagos is that it has square-shaped hour markers that match the snowflake handset. This look creates an esthetic that is decidedly modern but pays tribute to Tudor’s heritage. It’s really a signature piece in the beginnings of Tudor’s North American resurgence.
Photo by SD Watches
Forget about price for a moment. While the two watches have similarities, they project an entirely different image. If you are a traditionalist who prefers Air Max 95s, the five-digit Sea-Dweller will work well for your look. If you have a more contemporary style and prefer Air Max 270s, the Pelagos will be your best bet.
For a nice rubber strap for your Sea-Dweller, check out our offerings here.