Insider: Rolex Sea-Dweller 50th Anniversary ref. 126600. Hands-on with the Single Red Sea-Dweller.

Released in March at Baselworld 2017, the new Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 50th anniversary is finally making its way to the Rolex authorized dealer network. Revisited for its 50th anniversary with a bolder 43 mm case this new Red Sea-Dweller was a dream come true for all those lovers of Red Subs and Double Red Sea-Dwellers. Fitted with a matte black dial and graduated cerachrom bezel, the Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 is ready to be the perfect diver's companion all the way down to 1,220 meters or 4,000 feet down the ocean. The new Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 50th anniversary has also now replaced the previous iteration of the Sea-Dweller, the Sea-Dweller 4000 ref. 116600; however, both the Deepsea and the Deepsea D-Blue Dial aka James Cameron are still available. 

The Case

Fitted with a more robust case than its predecessors or its sibling the Submariner, the new Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 is fitted with a 904L stainless steel case measuring 43 mm in diameter. This case is one millimeter smaller than that on the Deepsea Sea-Dweller —44 mm— and much thinner as this watch comes with a depth rating more than three times lower. The case is also fitted with Helium Escape Valve on the case band at 9 o'clock and a triplock crown.

For those of you concerned about the case size, all we can tell you is that the watch doesn't wear that much bigger than a Submariner but considerably smaller than a Deepsea Sea-Dweller. Below please find size comparison pictures next to the Rolex Submariner and the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller.

The Dial

As far as the dial, the Rolex Sea-Dweller 50th Anniversary ref. 126600 is fitted with a matte black dial with red 'Sea-Dweller' writing at 6 o'clock. The fact that the dial is matte and not glossy, makes the watch reminiscent of the old days when matte dials were the norm. While many watch collectors and watch scholars complained about the Sea-Dweller being fitted with a cyclops, we actually like it. Not only the cyclops makes the watch more functional allowing for better readability of the date, but it also makes the watch look more like the legendary Red Submariner ref. 1680.

With its round markers and hands coated with Chromalight —Rolex's proprietary luminescent coating— the watch provides bright long lasting readability in low-light environments or at night. This new blue lume is extremely powerful and exceptional in appearance lasting over 8 hours with consistent and bright glow.

The Cerachrom Graduated Bezel

The new Rolex Sea-Dweller 50th Anniversary ref. 126600 is fitted with a graduated black monobloc cerachrom bezel with hash marks throughout the whole 60-minute scale, while this is something we never liked when the Sea-Dweller 4000 was released a few years ago, we understand that as far as functionality this is quite convenient.

The cerachrom bezel is initially made of white zirconium dioxide powder and then mixed with pigments that give it the desired final color —in this case black. The resulting paste is shaped by a high-pressure molding machine that creates a blank black bezel. After several firings at temperatures exceeding 1,500 degrees Celsius, the bezel hardens and reveals its final color. A third step involves precision machining using diamond tools to cut the tachymetric scale and give the bezel its final shape and size.

Afterwards, the full bezel is coated with a thin layer of platinum via a PVD process —Physical Vapor Deposition— in order to fill the engraved numerals and graduations. Lastly, diamond polishing removes the platinum from the bezel surface, while the platinum coating on the numerals and graduations remains. This last step is what gives the cerachrom bezels its extremely lustrous appearance.

The Bracelet

The new Sea-Dweller’s solid-link Oyster bracelet in 904L steel is fitted with an Oysterlock safety clasp that prevents accidental opening. A double extension system allows adjustments to be made without the use of tools, so that the watch can be worn comfortably over a diving suit up to 7 mm thick. The Fliplock extension link extends the bracelet by 26 mm, while the Rolex Glidelock system allows fine adjustment of the bracelet length in 2 mm increments for a total of approximately 20 mm.

The Movement & Case Back

Opposed to its sibling the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 116610 and the Deepsea Sea-Dweller, the 50th anniversary Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 is powered by the Rolex automatic in-house calibre 3235 instead of the calibre 3135. This new movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex is one of the most robust and accurate calibres out there. Calibre 3235 has no less than 14 patents and is fitted with a Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring and the new Chronergy Escapement with optimized energy efficiency. Like all Rolex Perpetual movements, the 3235 is a certified Swiss chronometer which provides a power reserve of 70 hours. The movement is protected by a solid case back with the traditional engravings of 'Original Gas Escapement Valve' and 'Rolex Oyster Sea-Dweller'.

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the Rolex Sea-Dweller 50th Anniversary ref. 126600 wears slightly smaller than its actual size of 43 mm and more like a Rolex Explorer II measuring 42 mm —hands-on review right here. As far as comfort, this new Sea-Dweller wears much more comfortably than the Deepsea Sea-Dweller and with crazy awesome wrist presence. If you are a lover of Red Subs or Double Red Sea-Dwellers, this watch is a must in your collection. 

Sticker Price $11,350 USD. For more info on Rolex click here.