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Rolex Sea-Dweller vs. Rolex Submariner

Rolex makes some of the best high-end dive watches, like the Sea-Dweller and Submariner.

Both watches have lots of common features, but they’re also very different in major ways that may influence your choice based on your needs.

We give you a side-by-side comparison that’ll help you see these differences and make a smart choice.

Common Features

The 31-jewel Rolex Calibre 3135 movement is in both the Rolex Sea-Dweller and the Submariner. It keeps accurate time with hour, minute, and second hands, as well as a date window.

The watches also have a black "Cerachrom" bezel insert that is made of long-lasting ceramic that does not scratch, rust, or fade. For a secure grip, their bezels have a polished stainless steel rim and a ribbed edge.

Both models also have Rolex's patented "Triplock" crown, which fits together like a submarine hatch and keeps water out.

The bracelets have the Glidelock Extension System built in, which lets you make changes in 2mm increments without using any tools.


Water Resistance

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two models is their water resistance.

The Sea-Dweller 4000 and the newer 43mm version have a remarkable 4000 feet (1220 meters) of water resistance. They’re deep-sea diving materials.

The Submariner has a water resistance of 1000 feet (300 meters). That’s at best enough for recreational diving.

Design and Aesthetics

A Cyclops magnifier is placed over the date window on the Submariner, which makes it easier to read. The older Sea-Dweller 4000 does not have this feature, but the newer 43mm Sea-Dweller does.

The Sea-Dweller also features matte platinum-coated numbers and graduation indexes on the bezel. This means better underwater visibility.

Some people might find the Sea-Dweller bulkier because its case is thicker to make it more waterproof. The Submariner, on the other hand, has a thinner case which works out well for everyday wear.

Material and Style Options

The Submariner comes in more styles. You can get it in stainless steel, white gold, yellow gold, and two-tone combinations.

The Sea-Dweller mostly comes in stainless steel, but there are a few other options as well.

Summarizing Pros and Cons



  • Superior water resistance (4000 feet)
  • Platinum-coated bezel details
  • More visibility with long-lasting blue luminous material


  • Higher price tag
  • Thicker case
  • Limited material options



  • Lower price tag
  • Cyclops date magnifier
  • Slimmer case
  • More style and material options


  • Lower water resistance (1000 feet)
  • Less detailed bezel markings
  • Shorter power reserve compared to Sea-Dweller 43mm

The Decision

Both watches are great and the name Rolex is enough to get behind either of them.

But your decision should depend on your preference.

For example, if you need high water resistance and don't mind a thicker case – you should look into the Sea-Dweller. But if you prefer a slimmer watch with more style options and a lower price – the Submariner may be the better choice.

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