Rolex Sea-Dweller

Ask TPG: Rolex Sea-Dweller or Deepsea?

Reader Stephen has a quandary on this hands and in his time of need he made the mistake of turning to us for advice. He writes:

I own a Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600 which I purchased in 1993. I recently had it serviced by Rolex who fitted new dial, hands and bezel. It looks like new and I am very pleased with it. I have considered buying the new Deepsea model but would have to part exchange my 16600 to bring down the price a bit. I have read on the net comments for and against the Deepsea and would value your opinions as I am not sure what to do.

The Prodigal Fool says:

Stephen, I normally make a rule of never giving anyone advice about what watch to buy. Ultimately, it’s the easiest thing in the world: you should simply buy what you like, what sings to your heart – and obviously no one except you can tell  what that is. On this occasion though, I’m going to make an exception and wade in guns blazing. My advice is simple and unequivocal: stick with your Sea-Dweller. The reference 16600 is one of Rolex’s best and most iconic designs. It’s one of my all-time favorites and the subject of one of the very first posts I ever wrote for TPG.

I can think of no better authority than myself to quote on this matter: The Sea-Dweller, as I wrote back in 2007 is “one of the greatest tool watches ever designed. Over-engineered to the point of insanity, supremely confident in its almost unparalleled abilities, and with some subtle styling cues to distinguish it from the ‘sea’ of Submariners out there, the Sea-Dweller is a Prodigal watch.”

The Deepsea? Not so much.

Look, the truth is that, since it was first announced, I’ve slowly got over my initial revulsion at the size and gaudiness of the Deepsea. The years have gently made it look a little more acceptable. The writing on the chapter ring will always jar and the super-sizing of the case will never look quite right with the bracelet but I’ve become a little more accepting of it than I first was. Hell, I’ve even been caught occasionally glancing admiringly at its much improved bracelet and new ceramic bezel. But here’s the thing, the Deepsea has none of the subtlety of the reference 16600, it will always look like it – and by association its owner – is trying just a little too hard. Like the rest of Rolex’s current line-up, it was designed for people who want to show off rather than get a job done. Despite its impressive engineering accomplishments, it still looks too much like jewelry to me rather than a tool watch.

Straight-Six says:

Stephen, let me tell you a story: I know a Dutchman. He’s tall, big, loud and an incredible shot with any firearm you might care to challenge him with. He hunts (well) and is an incredible cook, when he hasn’t downed more than a half-bottle of vino first. He licks his fingers during mealtime prep and is a genuine man’s man. This is cemented by his having owned and been entirely faithful to one watch for almost a decade: a Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600.

This watch has served him flawlessly during all this time despite being worn daily and subject to abuse that would shame a boar’s intestines. He wears it with suits, jeans and loud shorts. He wears it to work, at home and in bed. I even wash his Sea-Dweller for him whilst he prepares magnificent feasts. We both concur that this is truly the watch for him and the remainder of his years, and a timepiece for his sons to fight over when the time comes. The way he drinks and carries on, this will no doubt be sooner rather than later.

Anyways, this Dutchman’s brother bought one of the very first DSSDs. In the first months after sales began, prices doubled on the secondary market. And then they tanked. Hard. I was unfortunate enough to once catch sight of this monster from the deep on the brother’s wrist. It looked like a piss-poor fake, its cartoon-like dimensions, accenting and design so glaring I had to turn away to save my eyes and fine sensibilities.

Being far less diplomatic and self-effacing than the Fool – particularly when the bar doors close, the blinds come down and the after-party starts – I’m always ready to help a fellow watch enthusiast with their quest. Whether it’s to the corner to merely ogle watches in a display case or the first tentative steps into the terrifying yet incredibly rewarding world of vintage timepieces.

You know that I agree with the Fool and would go even further in saying there is absolutely nothing redeeming about the DSSD. At all. This said, you’re the one who is going to potentially wear it. And if you truly desire it, and it moves you ‘deeply’, then by all means take the plunge. But to me, this would be trading all that was great about Rolex for all that currently ails it. Stay clear of this trap. Stay with a true classic: the Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600.

read entire & original post here: By TPG