Much speculation today on Rolex’s latest announcement posted on their website.  What appears to be a diving watch with a thick case, Triplock crown guards, and rotating bezel, and combined with James Cameron’s release of the Deep Sea Challenge this week all point to something tied to the DeepSea SeaDweller. Everyone will know on August 4th.


When it comes to going undersea, the Rolex DeepSea SeaDweller is the most at home.  Designed for water pressures greater than what the human body can withstand, the Rolex DeepSea SeaDweller utilizes technologies not found on any watch by any other watch company.  Rolex’s goal for the DeepSea SeaDweller is to survive 12,800 feet (3,900 meters) of water pressure, or 188,160 psi looking to get inside the watch, -equivalent to about 100 or so Volkswagen bugs pressing upon you. For a Rolex DeepSea SeaDweller to survive these amazing pressures, Rolex relies upon some of its own innovations.


Starting at the top of the watch is the crystal.  The Rolex DeepSea SeaDweller utilizes a 5.5mm domed synthetic sapphire crystal.  5.5mm is more than twice the thickness of regular sapphire crystals, and there is no optical distortion from the curved glass because of the clarity sapphire brings.  The domed crystal merges seamlessly into the contour of the ceramic bezel.  Rolex utilizes ceramic bezel inserts because they do not fade or scratch.  The indentations and numbers are filled with platinum via a magnetron sputtering PVD process patented by Rolex.


The Rolex DeepSea SeaDweller is the only Rolex with a dedicated middle case that slides inside the Rolex standard 904L stainless steel case.  The dedicated middle case is made of high-performance nitrogen-alloyed stainless steel ring that is designed to withstand pressure exerted by the crystal and the caseback.  Called “Ring-Lock” technology, the nitrogen-alloyed center ring prevents the watch from failing under extreme water pressure.  Like all other modern Rolex models, the DeepSea SeaDweller watchcase is fashioned from a solid block of particularly corrosion-resistant 904L steel.


The nitrogen-alloyed RingLock presses against a Grade 5 titanium caseback. The DeepSea SeaDweller is the only Rolex watch (other than its sister brand Tudor) that utilizes a titanium caseback.  Grade 5 Titanium is used because of its high strength and weight saving capability.  The titanium caseback presses against an oversized O-ring seal such that water pressure makes the seal tighter.  Keeping the titanium caseback in its place is a 904L stainless screw down lock ring.


The Achilles heel on any wristwatch is the winding crown, but Rolex addresses this with their patented oversize TripLock winding crown.  The TripLock crown screws onto the watch case, similar to a submarine hatch, compressing 4 distinct O-ring seals to keep water from penetrating the case.


All of these elements keep the Rolex venerable 3135 movement dry and protected. Rolex’s long use of the 3135 movement is because of its reliability, certified chronometer precision, and its antimagnetic qualities with its Parachrom balance spring. Reading the watch is a simple affair because of the bold white gold surrounded dial dots and hands filled with Chromolight luminescent material.  Chromolight is Rolex’s method for making the watch readable in low light conditions making the hands and dial glow a cool-blue.


Lastly, the DeepSea SeaDweller utilizes their patented GlideLock clasp, allowing for the watch bracelet to be adjusted in 2mm increments while the watch is being worn. The Glidelock clasp along with a Fliplock foldout extension allows the watch to be worn over a 7mm diving suit without any tools to adjust the bracelet.


Without question, the Rolex DeepSea SeaDweller is designed for pressure. At 44mm wide and 17mm high, the DeepSea has plenty of wrist presence and shouts above or below water adventure. Even if our August 4 prediction is wrong about the DeepSea SeaDweller, we probably are not too far off.

– Sheldon Smith