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Rolex Sea-Dweller

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

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