In the world of Rolex, there are no small details. Allow me to explain. In what is increasingly looking like canniness ahead of caution, modern-day Rolex works largely on a policy of incremental upgrades to its core models – the Submariner, Daytona, Explorer, and so on. When wholly new watches are introduced, the die-hard fans are notoriously cool in their welcome. And anything done to heartland models – in fairness, all of them iconic designs – is therefore Big News.
Which brings us to this year’s new Sea-Dweller. Introduced 50 years ago as a hardier upgrade to the Submariner to better serve the needs of professional divers, the original Sea-Dweller was the first watch to feature a helium release valve. This was particularly useful in a pre-digital age for saturation divers, for example, who work underwater and in pressurised conditions for extended periods, but it is arguably less useful nowadays. However, the model existed for four decades, changing incrementally in that Rolex way, before vanishing from the range for a time in 2009, to be re-introduced as the Sea-Dweller 4000 in 2014.
Now it’s just called the Sea-Dweller again (but is still waterresistant to 4,000 feet), and there have been changes. Most controversial is the addition of a “cyclops”, Rolex’s name for the magnifying nodule above the date window for improved legibility. The watch has also got bigger, from 40mm to 43mm, and the words “Sea-Dweller” on the dial are now red (previously white). Inside beats a calibre 3235 mechanism – new to the Dweller – bringing better timekeeping accuracy and reliability.
One could debate the necessity and merit of all the aesthetic changes – and rest assured, many will – but for Rolex, it’s business as usual: on and on, constantly improving. £8,350; rolex.com