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Rolex Sea Dweller vs Submariner: What’s the difference?

silver Rolex Sea-Dweller watch
John Torcasio/ Unsplash / Unsplash

When choosing your next timepiece, you want to ensure you get the most out of your investment. The choice can be even harder if you’re dealing with a high-quality brand like Rolex. With a wide variety of options and intricate details, plenty of Rolex watches suit your style and needs. However, the two Rolex pieces are eerily similar but offer plenty of differences. Even though you might find them to be vastly different once on, there’s no doubt that their similarities can stump anyone on the surface. 

The Rolex Sea-Dweller and Submariner are highly detailed and luxurious timepieces anyone would love to have. However, if you’re stuck between which one of these deep-sea options to take home, some differences can sway you one way over another. Something as small as a clasp can make an entire difference when choosing a Rolex watch and make the difference between an uncomfortable piece or a smart investment. 

Two different purposes

Rolex Sea-Dweller
Pixabay/Pexels / Pexels

While both Rolex watches are perfect for those who indulge in underwater activities, the truth is that the Sea-Dweller and Submariner were made with two different purposes in mind. On one hand, the Submariner was one of the early modern dive watches that mixed diving needs and quality design. Initially able to reach up to 100 meters, the Submariner was updated to reach depths up to 300 meters. Its classic and timeless design makes it perfect for those who love the occasional dive. 

There’s no doubt that the Submariner’s creation set the mark for diving timepieces, and any subsequent designs were ultimately compared to this modern design. However, the Sea-Dweller made for the perfect comparison to Rolex’s modern dive watch. Unlike the Submariner, the Sea-Dweller is best for deep-diving activities as it can reach up to 1,220 meters. A must-have for underwater explorers and professional divers, there’s no comparison when it comes to water resistance. Part of this difference comes with Sea-Dweller’s helium escape valve, which allows the timepiece to stay intact, even in the most extreme dives. 

Rolex Submariner
Daniel Hay/Unsplash / Unsplash

Overall design

Deep sea diver or not, the Submariner and the Sea-Dweller offer the same Rolex quality in design that you would expect from the watch brand. While at first glance they may seem very similar, there are a few key differences that you’ll notice when wearing them. One of the most apparent differences comes from Sea-Dweller’s helium escape valve. Although this HEV allows the watch to withstand compression in extreme depths, it also adds a thicker crystal to the piece. Besides the thicker crystal, there are other small differences between the two. 

The clasps

While a small detail, these Rolex watches offer different approaches to their clasp design. The Submariner design offers a classic gridlock clasp, a well-known feature on many watches nowadays. This gridlock design allows users to easily adjust the strap to their liking and glide smoothly on it. The Sea-Dweller also contains this same adjustable gridlock clasp but with the addition of a ‘flip-lock’ system. This ‘flip-lock’ system allows wearers to adjust the clasp up to 50mm. This is significantly more than the 20mm that the Submariner offers. While only a 30mm difference, the Sea-Dweller’s higher adjustment allows divers to comfortably wear their watch over all of their diving gear. 

Weight and size

Considering the thicker crystal on the Sea-Dweller, it should be no shock that the case size is larger than the Submariner. On the Sea-Dweller you can expect a 43mm case and a 15.5mm thickness all around. This is compared to the Submariner’s 41mm case and 13mm thickness. Just slightly larger, the Sea-Dweller offers a much more statement and impactful look, whereas the Submariner is a bit more manageable and subtle. While they both have the same classic design that was first introduced in the 1950s, the larger thickness and case allow wearers of the Sea-Dweller to show off their pieces in a bolder way. 

Which one should you choose?

Considering the differences between the Submariner and Sea-Dweller, the choice of which one to pick is ultimately down to your preferences and needs. Those who occasionally enjoy diving or water activity will find security and quality in the Submariner. Originally designed to be worn right after coming out of the sea, the Submariner is a scaled-down dive watch that is versatile in any situation. The Submariner’s $9,100 price tag is also a more reasonable investment for the occasional diver. 

However, if you enjoy extreme deep-sea diving or underwater excursions, the Sea-Dweller is also a flexible piece that offers much more resistance to the depths of the sea. While larger in some respects, the Sea-Dweller still offers Rolex’s timeless designs, which means you don’t need to sacrifice style for practicality. A bigger investment than the Submariner, the Sea-Dweller is worth its $13,250 price tag for those who truly value its design. For professional divers or extreme athletes, the Sea-Dweller is a no-brainer for ease of mind.

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Leslie Leon
Leslie is a Los Angeles-based writer and content creator. She is always researching and finding the latest fashion trends…
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