Regarding its popularity among collectors, the Rolex Submariner 16610 has fallen behind the 14060. While it was initially more expensive than the undated version, it is now slightly less expensive. In fact, when the 14060 really started to wake up in the last few years, the 16610 was doing nothing at around 6 euros. But now, the situation has changed and a decent model can easily exceed €8,000. The cost of the original box and documentation can add up.
For me, the Rolex Submariner 16610 has never been my favorite. I’m the kind of person who can live without the date function and the 14060, especially the 14060M that I own, is a real favorite of mine. That replica rolex oyster stayed true to its roots until its demise in 2011. In any case, the 16610 is a true classic that has finally become attractive to collectors. In addition, one could argue that the 16610 is the watch that gave Rolex a place in the hearts and minds of this generation. I also think it is responsible for making stainless steel sports watches acceptable in most environments. Would I own one? I highly doubt it, but it is modern enough for anyone to wear every day and should hold its value.
Another piece that wakes up from its Rip Van Winkle-esque slumber is the Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600. A newcomer to the brand would take one look at this watch and question the difference between it and the 16610. What I like about the Sea-Dweller is that it is made for a purpose. Of course, that purpose is for professional and saturation divers, so it’s completely redundant for almost anyone who owns it. But who cares, because this collection has always demonstrated the best of what Rolex has to offer in terms of underwater durability and capability.
In 1988, the Sea-Dweller 16600 hit the shelves along with the 16610, bringing some similar specifications. This model also had a 40mm case, but with an insane 1200m water resistance. Due to this, the thickness has grown from 13 mm to 14.8 mm and the watch has added a helium valve. Other differences are the engraved motifs that adorn the case back (not common for Rolex) and the taller unidirectional bezel. The defining feature of this model (and most Sea-Dwellers) is the absence of the Cyclops crystal, despite the use of the caliber 3135 with date function.
A serious dive watch
Aside from the cleaner look of the Sea-Dweller over the Rolex Submariner 16610, I always wondered what made people choose this watch when it was new. I guess some people just want a top of the line dive watch from Rolex, or they just like the extra weight. With that said, the Sea-Dweller is a big chunk on the wrist, but it’s still thinner than many dive watches available today. A good example of this is our own Robert-Jan, who liked this watch so much he had one, sold it, and then re-added it to his collection.
When the Sea-Dweller 16600 was phased out in 2008, it had followed the same luminescence trend as the Submariner Date. It also had lug holes at first, so the replica watch rolex does have some of the vintage elements that collectors tend to like. There is an interesting story worth sharing. Back in 2008, my father visited a Rolex advertiser in South Florida. This advertiser purchased over 100 of the remaining 16600s and sold them. I think my dad ended up buying a new one for about 20% off. Imagine that today!
The Sea-Dweller 16600 did exit the market in a whimpering way and remained quiet for many years. For a long time, these watches stayed in the price range of 5 to 6 euros. Now, however, if you want a good one, you have to have a budget of at least €8,000 and assume a small premium over the Submariner 16610. Similar to the Submariner, I don’t think there is much difference in value between the earlier and later models.
Models like the Rolex Submariner 16610 and Sea-Dweller 16600 are the last of their kind. They have engraved cases, in some cases beveled lugs, aluminum bezels, stamped clasps, and stamped end links on the earlier models. On the other hand, these movements are bulletproof and they can be worn every day with regular maintenance. What’s more, the Super-LumiNova models never really age, except for the bezel fading. Are these watches the next biggest investment? Who knows, but with the current Rolex list price climbing year after year, I guess is that these watches will continue to climb at some rate.