OceanicTime Archives


ROLEX Sea-Dweller Ref. 126600

It seems like it was only yesterday that Rolex released their brand-new Sea-Dweller 4000; in fact that was three years ago so what’s happened in meantime that warrants another new Sea-Dweller model?

To start with it was exactly 50 years ago in 1967 that Rolex first designed a dive watch to meet the demands of sea-dwelling folk – in particular their mates working for COMEX who were for the first time starting to spending pre-longed periods of time at depth which involved decompressing in Helium filled chambers.

The short version of the story is - Helium being the tiniest of molecules was starting to seep into the cases of the watches worn by COMEX’s SAT divers. The Helium built up inside the watch case, until upon returning to the surface it reached a critical level of pressure with the resulting force popping the watch crystal out the case.

This of course was not on, so in answer to the problem Rolex’s engineers invented the Helium Escape Valve, a feature that has become somewhat ubiquitous on a divers watch and to be honest unless you’re a SAT diver is an absolutely redundant and superfluous feature that we just happen to love all the same. However it is important to remember that Rolex invented it first and it does serve a purpose.

That was 50 years – today Rolex presents the brand-new Sea-Dweller Ref. 12660 which boasts 4 new features over the current Sea-Dweller 4000. First off is a new 43mm in diameter case which is the same size as the SD’s bigger brother the DEEPSEA.

Then there’s an all-important aesthetic feature – the Sea-Dweller in red, a nod to those famous watches worn by COMEX back in the day that can fetch silly money when going to auction.

The next feature isn’t going to be appreciated by everyone; the Ref. 12660 has a magnifying lens AKA Cyclops over the date-window. Personally, I love it as it kind plays on the Sea-Dwellers tool-watch character. However to the purist it might be considered a bit of an eyesore.

I don’t think anyone will be complaining about the fourth and final new feature of the Sea-Dweller Ref. 12660 which is fitted with the latest generation Rolex caliber 3235. With a total of 14 patents, it offers basic gains in terms of precision, power-reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields as well as reliability.

The new 3235 incorporates the new Chronergy escapement patented by Rolex, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic interference.

An optimized blue Parachrom hairspring is fitted to the oscillator, the true heart of the watch. Patented and manufactured by Rolex in an exclusive paramagnetic alloy, it is up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks.

A Rolex overcoil ensures its regularity in any position. The caliber 3235 is also equipped with a self-winding module via a Perpetual rotor. Thanks to its new barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of caliber 3235 extends to approximately 70 hours.


  1. I have a ref 16600 and no-cyclops really grows on you. There is zero impact on how clear the date is during normal wear (I question why anyone would check the date during a dive). I don't hate the cyclops but not having it was a neat, sometimes "insider", identifier for the SD (and the escape valve of course). I understand Rolex needs to "bling" features and this newest with red is still great looking. But it would have been perfect without cyclops and would have enticed more to open wallets - purists and those who want to be set apart from the regular Subs out there. The red markings and escape valve would be enough to distinguish it without the cyclops added.

  2. I agree the cyclops has certainly ruined the watch for the purist but I still feel it goes along with the tool-watch image that the new watch has. Thanks for you thoughts!

  3. I'm considering trading in my Deepsea for one of these, but I guess I'll be in the majority who dislike the cyclops. It can, I believe, be removed, which is what I would do. The Deepsea sits slightly uncomfortably on the wrist. I have a large wrist and do notice this after several hours of wearing. The back of the new Sea-Dweller appears to share this high-riding quality, something that can only be confirmed in the metal.

    1. How are you planning to remove the Cyclops on your new SD50?
      Of all the different ways I've seen on YouTube, the 'fishing line' one, sounded the safest...

  4. This new SD43 is just perfect! The shape, size, proportion, bracelet scale..The new movement, the single red... Stunning watch! ROLEX did a fabulous job, not cheap! The new SD has a cyclops, haters get over it, or stick to the pre-2017 version, it's always gonna be a very cool watch and collectable now. But this is welcome progress IMO, a "Sub on steroid", it really catch the spirit of what the Sd has always been about.