Diving into the depths of the ocean is an exhilarating adventure, where the wonders of the underwater world meet the need for high-performance, reliable equipment. For divers, a timepiece that can withstand the challenges of the deep sea is an essential companion.
Rolex, a brand synonymous with luxury, precision, and durability, has consistently been at the forefront of crafting exceptional watches that cater to the needs of professional divers and aquatic enthusiasts alike.
Rolex cornered the market in waterproof watches as early as 1926 with the introduction of the Oyster case and raised the bar again with the introduction of the first watch designed specifically for divers in 1954 with the Submariner.
In this article, we will explore the top Rolex watches specifically designed for divers, delving into the features, innovations, and timeless style that make them both trusted tools for underwater exploration and sought-after icons in the world of horology. Despite the Rolex brand being better known now for luxury, their dive watches are still highly functional. Rolex dive watches are divided into three categories: the Submariner, the Sea-Dweller, and the Deepsea.
If you’re intent on diving with your luxury timepiece, here are our picks for the top Rolex watches for divers:
Top Rolex Watches for Divers
Rolex Submariner Steel Watch Date 126610LN
The Rolex Submariner Steel Watch Date ref 126610LN is designed to be a high-performance diving watch, capable of withstanding depths of up to 300 meters. It’s one of eight new references in the Submariner line released in 2020. While there are only a few subtle changes from its predecessor the 116610LN, when it comes to Rolex subtle can be earth-shattering.
Some of its key features include a rotatable bezel with 60-minute graduations that allow a diver to accurately and safely monitor diving time and decompression stops, a hard and corrosion-resistant ceramic Cerachrom bezel insert that is virtually scratchproof, and a sporty three-link solid stainless steel Oyster bracelet.
Additionally, the new 2020 Submariner models are 41mm wide, which is slightly wider than the previous generation, but the actual wearing size difference between the new and the old Submariners is under one millimeter. That’s what many collectors like about the Submariner line, how relatively unchanged the model remains despite its history. Any changes made are incredibly subtle.
You have a highly legible dial with a configuration that you’ll instantly recognize from Rolex’s dive watches. Large and luminescent hour markers rise starkly above the dark dial along with the Cyclops window magnified date at 3 o’clock.
Under the hood, you’ll find the Rolex calibre 3235, their automatic movement with an excellent 70-hour power reserve. This movement is known to be reliable and an incredible chronometer, with -2/+2 seconds per day accuracy.
Rolex Submariner Steel Watch No Date 124060
Much like the above Submariner with a date, the ref. 124060 with no date window features some of the same perks. Also released in 2020, the ref. 124060 features the same 41mm case size in Oystersteel. Most wearers of older Submariners find that the new 2020 models, despite their slightly bigger case size, wear smaller. This is due to Rolex improving the case profile, slimming down the lugs, and changing the bracelet configurations a fraction.
An excellent dive watch that looks much like the above ref. 126610LN, this Submariner carries all the features that thrill divers. This highly durable watch is water resistant up to 300 meters, or 1000 feet, and easy to read in low-light conditions. Both the large, applied hour markers and the Mercedes hands are filled with the new blue Chromalight lume which deeply contrasts against the black dial.
Inside you’ll find the same automatic movement as the other 2020 Submariners sans date, Rolex’s new calibre 3230, and the same unidirectional ceramic bezel with a 60-minute timer. This is a top-of-the-line watch that combines both style and functionality for divers and luxury watch enthusiasts alike.
Rolex Sea-Dweller “4000” Steel 16600
If you’re looking for a watch that can withstand even the harshest conditions, then the Rolex Sea-Dweller Steel 16600 is your best bet. The impressive features of this dive watch make it an excellent and hardcore dive watch.
The 40mm Oystersteel case with a helium escape valve is tested and touts an amazing 4000 feet of water resistance (610m). Beyond the impressive depths and pressures that this case is designed to withstand, you also have the engraved or textured rotatable bezel that not only allows you to time your dive and decompression stops, but the texture gives great grip, with or without gloves.
The large black dial of the Sea-Dweller features large hour markers and hands that are ultra luminescent for easy reading even in the darkest of waters. Designed with divers in mind, you’ll find that the three-piece bracelet of the Sea-Dwellers carries the Oysterlock clasp for no accidental release and the Glidelock adjustment so you can lengthen or shorten the bracelet over your wetsuit without any tools.
This reference is praised repeatedly for its superb execution and nest design. The case itself is on the heavy and thicker side compared to other watches, but the case bands have been kept to a more reasonable height for comfortable wearability. Most of the additional thickness compared to the Submariner is actually in the caseback.
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea 116660
When it comes to looking at the DeepSea it takes a little effort to see how it’s any different than Rolex’s other dive watches, the Submariner and Sea-Dweller and that’s because most of the difference is found underneath the case. This timepiece carries some incredible engineering, even for Rolex and their reputation.
With an impressive water resistance of 3,900 meters or 12,800 feet, you’re looking at dive depths over twice that of the Sea-Dweller. This is made possible with the Ringlock system that works together to absorb the heavy pressures that come with diving almost 2.5 miles under the sea.
Combine that with the integrated helium valve that allows for the escape of helium gas molecules that can enter the watch during deep saturation diving, you have a professional-grade dive watch. The titanium caseback is designed to flex under the same pressures to help with shock absorption and the sapphire crystal measure 5.5mm and can handle pressures equivalent to 4.5 tons!
Equipped with an Oyster bracelet, the DeepSea 116660 features the Glidelock clasp specifically developed for divers to easily adjust to the added dimensions to your wrist from a wetsuit.
The 44mm diameter makes it the biggest of Rolex’s dive watches, but that’s still infinitely smaller than a watch with these features would be without Rolex’s innovative Ring Lock system. Rolex continues its iconic dive dial with the black dial and stark white, luminescent hour markers and hands surrounded by the unidirectional, Cerachrom ceramic bezel with its 60-minute timer.
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea D-Blue Cameron 126660
This is an exceptional watch designed for diving. Much like the above, it features the 44mm Oystersteel case, the Rolex patented Cerachrom ceramic unidirectional bezel in black with white 60-minute timer for the precise and safe monitoring of your dive and decompression times, and a helium escape valve to release gas without compromising the watch’s waterproofness.
It also has a water resistance of 3,900 meters making it one of the most capable dive watches available. Rolex tests this watch before releasing each model from the factory to 25% higher pressure than it’s rated for to ensure its durability and reliability in these extreme conditions. The Biodur-108 steel inner ring is 3 times stronger than Rolex’s famous 904L grade Oystersteel.
Differentiating itself from the other Rolex models the ref. 126660 features a D-Blue dial with a slight gradient from deep blue to back at the base. It still features the tell-tale Rolex dive watch, stark white applied white hour markers, the Mercedes hands, all with the Chromalight luminescent paint that appears white in daylight and glows a bright blue in the dark, allowing you to easily read your watch even in the darkest conditions.
Equipped with the 3235 movement, a new generation of movement developed by Rolex, it provides better precision, power reserve, shock resistance, and anti-magnetism than previous models.
Rolex Deepsea Challenge Titanium 126067
Since the famous dive in 1960 here a Rolex DeepSea Special prototype was attached to the outside of the bathyscaphe Trieste that dove the massive 10,916 meters to the bottom of the Mariana Trench and survived in perfect condition, Rolex has been legendary when it comes to deep dive watches.
The 2022 DeepSea Challenge in Titanium (ref. 126067) is not only Rolex’s first ever wholly titanium watch but also the most waterproof, rated for dive depths of up to 11,000 meters. By comparison, Rolex’s DeepSea is only rated to 3,900 meters. However, Rolex tests each one of these watches to 125% of this rating for 11,000 meters, meaning the watch is tested for the pressures at 13,750 meters.
This incredible water resistance is thanks to Rolex’s patented Ringlock system. This three-tiered system includes the durable steel inner ring sandwiched between the thick sapphire domed crystal on one side and the titanium caseback on the other. By spreading the increasing pressure from the sapphire and the caseback to the inner ring, Rolex can make the case much slimmer.
As Rolex’s first all-titanium watch, the DeepSea Challenge uses RLX titanium which is a grade 5 titanium that includes aluminum and vanadium. Titanium is 40% lighter than steel making this watch more wearable than its predecessor while still being more water resistant.
Lug-to-lug, this watch measures at a large 61mm, while the case measures 50mm, quite the step up from the Rolex DeepSea at 44mm. Considering what this watch can accomplish, it’s an impressive feat to keep the case so small. Inside you’ll find the new Rolex calibre 3230 like many of their other dive models that features a 70-hour power reserve and a frequency of 28,800 beats/hour.
The matte black dial features the typical Rolex dive features with the Chromalight paint on the applied hour markers, the Mercedes hands, and the 60-minute triangle of the unidirectional Cerachrom ceramic bezel. The titanium Oyster bracelet features the same Oysterlock clasp for divers alongside the Glidelock adjustment system to easily fit over a bare wrist or a wetsuit.
Top Rolex Watches for Divers: Final Thoughts
Rolex has consistently demonstrated its dedication to creating high-quality, reliable, and functional timepieces for divers. The Rolex Submariner, Rolex Sea-Dweller, and Rolex Deepsea are prime examples of the brand’s commitment to excellence in the world of dive watches.
Each watch showcases impressive water resistance, innovative technology, and robust construction, ensuring that these watches can withstand underwater conditions. For professional divers and enthusiasts alike, these Rolex watches are the epitome of style, performance, and durability, making them the ultimate companions for underwater exploration.
As the brand continues to push the boundaries of watchmaking, Rolex will undoubtedly remain the go-to choice for those seeking the best in dive watches. Seek out your dive watch today from our vast selection of watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.