Time to dive into a Rolex faceoff, pun intended, featuring two of Rolex’s top dive watches. The Rolex Sea Dweller model 16600 and the Rolex Sub Mariner model 16610. There is no doubt that both of these are fantastic, expertly made watches. But which one is better? That’s what I am here to answer for you! Before we dive into specifics of each watch (getting old already), let’s go over a brief history of dive watches. Professional divers need watches to keep track of time while they are thousands of feet underwater. Hence, a need for watches that can take the immense pressure under the sea. If a diver does not time their dive properly, things can get pretty ugly. So this created a market for watches that can be a reliable and life-saving device for divers all over. The original dive watch by Rolex is actually a Sea Dweller, made specifically for COMEX Divers. The market for dive watches has expanded exponentially since then.
Dive watches are no longer solely for divers. These watches have become a must-have for watch enthusiasts and business professionals. You need to own at least one to hold the title “watch collector.” That being said, these two watches we are discussing today are true classics in the dive watch game and items you should seriously think about purchasing if you are building a collection.
|Helium Escape Valve||No Helium Escape Valve|
|No cyclops||Rolex Cyclops|
|Stainless steel bracelet||Stainless steel bracelet|
|40mm case||40mm case|
|Oyster lock clasp||Oyster lock clasp|
|Aluminum Bezel insert||Aluminum Bezel insert|
|Black dial w/ luminescent hands||Black dial w/ luminescent hands|
|31 jewel, 3135 Calibre movement||31 jewel, 3135 movement|
If you are a diver, the functionality of a dive watch is DIRE. It can be a life or death situation. If you are not a diver, well, it still matters, if you’re buying a Rolex I assume you want a top notch watch. Both of these watches are very similar on the inside. Both feature a Rolex Calibre 3135 movement. No doubt, this is considered one of the best inner devices by Rolex. It is the most widely used movement in all Rolex timepieces. Just look at the complexity of this type of movement, it is insane! The caliber measures 28.50 mm in diameter and 6.00 mm in height, which is pretty large for a watch caliber. This allows the watch to perform extremely well and reliable with a frequency of 28.800 vph (vibrations per hour). A higher vph means a smoother running timepiece!
Again, important if you’re a diver, interesting fact if your not. The Sea Dweller 16600 can reach depths of 4,000 feet. The Sea Dwellers are the original dive watches for Rolex, so the diving depth was important on this one. In contrast, the Sub Mariner 16610 can handle water resistance of only 1,000 feet. I personally am not a diver, so I will let leave this part on you!
Now time for the important stuff, the look of the watches. At first glance, you may not be able to tell them apart. But any watch geek can pick out some major differentiators right away!
Rolex Sea Dweller 16600
Rolex created a great looking classic with this watch. The Sea Dweller was the first watch to feature a Helium Escape Valve. Helium escape valves do exactly what they sound like they do. Release helium when at depths of 250 feet or greater. Besides that, it is just a unique looking addition to your watch.
One main piece that the Sea Dweller lacks is the signature cyclops, which magnifies the date. Although this sets this watch apart from the rest and is actually a necessity for the diving depths,(the cyclops can crack, no good for divers) the Rolex brand is not the same without the cyclops in my opinion. What I do love about this watch is the size of the case. It is a 40mm, which is no longer in production. The Sea Dwellers that are made today are much bulkier, at 43mm in diameter.
The newer model Rolex Sea-Dweller DeepSeaDeepSea is very heavy and large; better fit for a wrist like Shaquille O’Neal.
A PERFECT Fit
The Sea Dweller 16600 is a perfect size and sits nice and comfortably on the wrist. Everything about the case on this watch is pristine. When looking at the face up close, the detail of everything is overwhelmingly noticeable. It is sad to hear when watch newbies compare this watch to a cheap Invicta. Why there may be some similarities from afar, there is no comparison to the detail of the Sea Dweller. The Sea Dweller also features the sapphire crystal glass, an expensive, scratch proof glass that is a beautiful addition to the watch.
The band is pretty interesting on this one. It has the stainless steel Oyster Bracelet, like many other Rolex watches, but the flip lock clasp makes it more adored. Add the sturdy solid end link and you have a handsome and unique band. A solid end link makes it easier to fit on the wrist. This piece secures the watch in place and takes away the kinkiness that has your band twisting and shaking compared to the normal clasps.
Now let’s get to the dial. The Sea Dweller has a Rolex black dial with illuminating markers. The black dial gives this watch the professional look and goes great with the black bezel insert. Black and silver create a look that is very professional. Make this a watch to wear with business attire.
Rolex did a great job keeping the Sea Dweller a classic while adding some unique features as well. The lack of a cyclops is a bit unappealing to me, but it does make this watch unique. The overall look is clean and professional, I will rate it a 4/5 in appearance.
Rolex Sub Mariner 16610
Not to be unfair to the Sub Mariner, but there are a vast amount of similarities in appearance. I would be repeating myself with almost everything, so I will cut straight to the differences.
For starters, the Sub Mariner DOES come with the Rolex trademarked cyclops. The classic Rolex look is exemplified when your date is standing out at 2.5 magnification. The Sub Mariner does not have a helium release valve, oh darn it, so be wary of this if you are a diver. For looks though, the lack of a helium escape valve tarnishes the look of a dive watch. If you are not a diver and own a dive watch, wouldn’t it be neat to have a little piece that has a very important job? To better clarify, I am disappointed with the Sub Mariner model skipping the helium escape. Add it with the cyclops and the two would go great together!
Everything else about this watch is basically the same. 40mm case diameter, black dial with luminescent hands, stainless steel oyster band and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. The Sub Mariner is also expertly handcrafted like the Sea-Dweller and can be worn with similar attire. One thing to add, although the size is the same, for some reason the Sub Mariner sits higher on the wrist and feels a bit bulkier. I like my watches to have a good weight, but not too much weight.
Overall, when it comes to appearance, I have to say I prefer the Sub Mariner. The cyclops is the main reason behind this decision, I just can’t get over a lack of cyclops, that IS ROLEX. With that being said I’ll give the Sub Mariner a 4.5/5.
Besides the look of a watch, this may be the most important factor when deciding what watch to purchase. Now let it be noted that there is a difference between price and value. The prices vary for both of these watches and you can find different deals everywhere. Generally, I would say they are worth the prices you find online. When buying a Rolex be CAUTIOUS. There are many fakes out nowadays, so be sure you buy from a trusted site like Amazon..
I would say both watches are worth the price tag at the moment. Both are top grade beautiful watches by Rolex and once you own one of these watches you can treasure the time and effort put into building these fantastic watches. Overall, the winner for value goes to the Sea Dweller 16600. I chose the Sea Dweller for the best value for a few reasons.
The Sea Dweller model 16600 is a pure classic. It is based on the original Comex model, yet features newer materials and technology. This watch is no longer in production, so it holds a more sentimental value. Sub Mariners are continuing to be produced similarly to how they were for years. Only Sea Dweller Deep Sea watches are made today, and like I mentioned earlier, they are not the same as the Sea-Dweller 16600. If you purchase the Sea Dweller, keep this asset in good condition and hold onto it for many years. Do not be surprised if you begin to see the prices skyrocket for this vintage piece.
So Which Is The Winner?
Time for what everyone has been waiting for. Which watch takes the cake? This took a lot of thought to come up with, because like I said several times, both are OUTSTANDING watches. Without further ado, I give you the winner: The Sea-Dweller Model 16600. It may not have sounded like a clear winner in the article, but due to its immense history, it is the better choice of the two. The Sub Mariner is almost a copy of the Sea Dweller. You have so much more history and worth in the original Sea Dweller. Although it does not have a cyclops, I still say to go with this watch.