Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller 126660 ‘Black Dial’ Watch Hands-On

At Baselworld 2018 Rolex  replica watches debuted an updated version of the famed Deepsea Sea-Dweller watch. aBlogtoWatch went hands-on with the D-Blue (aka “James Cameron”) version of the reference 126660  Deepsea watch here. Today, I give my personal take on the new Rolex Deepsea 126660 and look at the other dial version which is the traditional black face for the Deepsea. Does a different dial color for a dive watch merit its own discussion? When it is a Rolex, perhaps the answer is yes. It also gives me an opportunity to discuss my own feelings about Rolex’s largest, and “most professional” dive watch.

At Baselworld 2018 Rolex debuted an updated version of the famed Deepsea Sea-Dweller watch.
At Baselworld 2018 Rolex debuted an updated version of the famed Deepsea Sea-Dweller watch.

The traditional black dial for the 126660 Deepsea is not identical to the D-Blue (blue to black gradient dial) in terms of text. The primary difference (in addition to colors) is the placement and size of “Deepsea.” On the D-Blue 126660 the word is placed right above “Sea-Dweller” under where the hands connect. On the the black dial, “Deepsea” is smaller and placed just over where the hands connect under “Oyster Perpetual Date.” I happen to prefer the black dial myself, as part of that is the placement of the text. Yes, we aren’t even talking about the functionality, construction, or comfort of the watch, but rather, where a small term is placed on the dial. Welcome to being a watch nerd.

The traditional black dial for the 126660 Deepsea is not identical to the D-Blue (blue to black gradient dial) in terms of text.
The traditional black dial for the 126660 Deepsea is not identical to the D-Blue (blue to black gradient dial) in terms of text.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller 126660 ‘Black Dial’ Watch Hands-On Hands-On
All images by Ariel Adams

Speaking of text, Rolex seemed to want the new for 2018 reference 126660 to look similar to the outgoing 116660, so it kept one of the original Deepsea’s most controversial features. That is a silver rehaut ring around the dial which uk replica watches contains two phrases being “Original Gas Escape Valve” (referring to the automatic helium release valve) and “Ring Lock System,” which refers to how the case is constructed to ensure such high levels of water resistance. The silver ring itself is actually part of the Ring Lock and is a “high-performance nitrogen-alloyed stainless steel ring.” Honestly, when you wear the watch you quickly forget that it is there, but in truth Rolex didn’t need to remind the wearer at each glance of the dial that the timepiece contains these parts/systems. I’m usually not one to complain about too much text, but I am not sure the text on the Ring Lock needed to be there. Oh well, it isn’t that big of a deal in an otherwise fantastic package.

The vast majority of people who wear a Deepsea will not take it underwater – let alone to almost 13,000 feet. The Rolex Deepsea has 3,900m of water resistance thanks to an actual submarine-like case construction. Rolex has made watches that can go deeper – but it barely matters unless you find yourself in a miniature, wearable submariner pissing contest. The reason people tend to wear a Rolex Deepsea (other than the fact that it is a really cool machine) is the size. At 44mm wide and almost double the thickness of the Submariner, the Deepsea is a beast on the wrist – but one that fans love.

The Ring Lock System case is part of the reason it can withstand such massive pressures. The sapphire crystal alone is 5.5mm thick and the caseback is produced from grade five titanium. For 2018 Rolex will no longer really be using the “904L steel” designation to refer to the steel they use. They are still using 904L steel for their watches, but they just won’t call it that. Rolex has introduced “Oystersteel” as the preferred term, which makes their special 904L alloy blend unique to them.

It is true that Rolex does have their own particular alloy blends made for them all the time. It is also true that until recently
It is true that Rolex does have their own particular alloy blends made for them all the time. It is also true that until recently

It is true that Rolex does have their own particular alloy blends made for them all the time. It is also true that until recently, really no other watch brand used 904L stainless steel. 904L is harder to machine, polishes up better, and has some corrosion resistance properties that make for a good diving watch.

Last year in 2017 Rolex introduced the updated Sea-Dweller 126600 in a 43mm wide case also in steel. Like the short-lived Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 116600 (2014-2017), the newer Sea-Dweller now needs to fight for its right to exist. I also need to explain to myself why I like the 40mm wide Submariner. I think part of it is because the Submariner has such amazing proportions and the Sea-Dweller 43mm simply tries to blow it up and add a dash of red. I suppose there is a market for that, but my wrist isn’t part of that crowd. I think anyone who can properly pull off the Sea-Dweller 126600 watch should certainly do so.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II Hands-On

THE LARGE ROLEX
For the longest time, and I’ll take the blame for this, I couldn’t see the Yacht-Master II as nothing more than The Large Rolex. The 44mm wide Yacht-Master II was the go-to large Rolex, with a massive gap in size between it and the 40mm Sea-Dwellers, Submariners, and others. Debuted in 2007, the Yacht-Master II was followed just next year by the absolutely massive Deepsea that had the same width at 44mm but was considerably thicker, so it both appeared and wore much, much larger than the YMII, placing it far off the map for most.

For the longest time, and I’ll take the blame for this, I couldn’t see the Yacht-Master II as nothing more than The Large Rolex.
For the longest time, and I’ll take the blame for this, I couldn’t see the Yacht-Master II as nothing more than The Large Rolex.

The Sky-Dweller made its debut in 2012, and while it also looks and wears large, until 2017 it was exclusively available in solid gold cases, rendering it about 40% more expensive than the two-tone YMII that had already been available by 2012. I did look these things up – wouldn’t want to pose as someone who remembers all this. No wonder then, that the Yacht-Master II became The Large Rolex worn by premiership ballerinas footballers, celebrities, and… basically everyone who wanted in on the large watch craze with a Rolex, but didn’t like or couldn’t afford the Sky-Dweller. The fact that Rolex took so long and only debuted the larger, 43mm wide Sea-Dweller in 2017 is just Rolex being its usual cautious self that caused it to nearly miss the boat on the large watch trend – but that’s for another discussion uk replica watches.

Stars aligned and I ended up in a Rolexreplica watches
boutique with a camera in one hand and the Yacht-Master II in the other – welcome to watch blogger life. It was only there that I realized I should have cared about the Yacht-Master II because my goodness, it is a truly impressive piece of watchmaking. It’s the Bentley of watches: big, brash, and showy, bought by a demographic that people not part of are keen not to be associated with… But beyond all that lies a deeply impressive, well-made, uniquely cool product.

Rolex – but at the same time its functionality, layout, as well as its case and dial design are all refreshingly unique.
Rolex – but at the same time its functionality, layout, as well as its case and dial design are all refreshingly unique.

I am realizing now that it might as well just be my boredom with the Submariners and Datejusts speaking, but as I was reviewing my images on the spot on the camera’s screen (not even a larger, better display) I realized the many intricate and well-made details of the Yacht-Master II. It’s proper Rolex through and through – you’d never ever mistake the entire watch or any of its details for anything but a Rolex – but at the same time its functionality, layout, as well as its case and dial design are all refreshingly unique.

Yes, that’s what got me. The weird, piston-style pushers (that need not be screwed down), the weird, but strangely beautiful proportions of the lugs and bezel, the incredible quality of the blue ceramic bezel and its laser-etched, PVD-coated numerals, the weird arch of the dial that resembles (in my mind at least) a gauge of a submarine, and the ADD-curing tactile feel of the Ring Command bezel. These make the Yacht-Master II not only unlike any other Rolex, but unlike any other watch. How did this happen?

Whether or not Rolex had the large watch trend on its mind when designing the Yacht-Master II, we’ll never know. I have no hopes in receiving a definitive “yes, we did” or “no, we didn’t” answer from them. The Yacht-Master II was designed with a programmable fly-back regatta chronograph (ooooh, just writing that down felt strangely satisfying) and it was also the watch to debut Rolex’s Ring Command rotating bezel system that was later also used in the Sky-Dweller.

We’ll look at how it all works soon but for a second imagine the amount of R&D time and effort that must have gone into designing what is now called the Manufacture Rolex  replica watches Calibre 4161 “with some 360 components.” What the heck, even Rolex appears to be proud of this movement as this, I believe, is the only movement they proactively communicate the exact component count of. It is known that the 4130 chronograph in the Daytona has 201 parts, but Rolex officially only ever said they managed to reduce the chronograph’s component count by 60%, without providing the total 201 count – and as far as the other movements are concerned, no exact component figure is ever shared.

without providing the total 201 count – and as far as the other movements are concerned, no exact component figure is ever shared.
without providing the total 201 count – and as far as the other movements are concerned, no exact component figure is ever shared.

Give or take the large watch trend, the Yacht-Master II is also something else: it’s Rolex’s love letter to one of its obscure, but long-standing passions, yachting. Worry not, I’ll spare you the long, teary-eyed story of all that’s exciting about yachting.

Rolex Day-Date 40 ‘President’ Watch Review

Since 1956 Rolex has been producing the Day-Date watch as their flagship men’s model. The most recent version of the Day-Date (also commonly referred to as the “Rolex President”) is the Rolex Day-Date 40 reference 22823X series that includes the 18ct yellow gold reference 228238, the 18ct Everose gold reference 228235, the 18ct white gold reference 228239, and the smooth bezel 950 platinum reference 228206. This aBlogtoWatch review uk replica watches is of the 18ct white gold Rolex Day-Date 40 reference 228239BLRP with the blue colored dial. In addition to the four precious metal case materials, Rolex offers a compelling range of dial color and style options, as well as versions of the Day-Date 40 with varying levels of precious stone decoration.

the Day-Date 40 with varying levels of precious stone decoration.
the Day-Date 40 with varying levels of precious stone decoration. 

Early on in my career reviewing watches, I always found the Rolex President to be a challenging watch to categorize. That is because the Day-Date does not fit into any of the traditional categories of watches that we tend to think of. It isn’t simple and basic enough to be a traditional dress watch, it isn’t built for specific physical activities even though it has the resistance of many sport watches, and its design isn’t inspired by any specific items that might put it in the category of an art or “design” watch. Despite its iconic status and massive global popularity, what exactly is the Rolex Day-Date President?

I’ve come up with a two-part answer to that question and it is that the Rolex Day-Date is both the quintessential men’s jewelry watch, and the quintessential masculine gold watch. Each part of the Rolex President theme is about combining core horological utility with a status-communicating showiness that isn’t meant to be particularly brash or assertive. Rolex seemed to hit on a design that said “look at me” without saying “look too closely.” The outcome is a product that clearly says “I have money and at least recognize good taste, but I’m also concerned about long-term value and functionality.”

For a long time the Rolex Day-Date replica watches and Datejust rode a similar path along side one another as appealing to very similar demographics. You can read my long-term review on the Rolex Datejust 41 watch here. The Datejust is less expensive, not currently produced in all precious metal, and has a slightly more simple movement. What originally made the Day-Date standout from the Datejust was the inclusion of a day of the week indicator – with the day fully spelled out at the 12 o’clock hour position. My understanding is that this feature was originally intended for active business people (men) who found it useful to not only know the date but the current day of the week. This was especially important for people who had reoccurring obligations and would be regularly (and clearly) reminded of what day of the week it was.

they were used by people to communicate not just status but also success.
they were used by people to communicate not just status but also success.

Over the years the importance of having the day and date on your wrist diminished – especially as technology put the date and calendar information everywhere. Still, Rolex is a “heritage” company and continued to produce the Day-Date out of both habit and obligation to keep this important family of watches lively and relevant for luxury watch consumers around the world. The 1980s and 1990s were an important time for Rolex and the Day-Date President (as well as Datejust), as the brand experienced a high-point in its watches because they were used by people to communicate not just status but also success.

The Day-Date watch earned the nickname “President,” which is what it is often referred to. This originated from the fact that several United States Presidents (among other world leaders) wore Rolex Day-Date watches. One source refers to an actual Rolex advertisement from 1966 where Rolex itself describes the Day-Date as “The President’s Watch.” At the time, US President Lyndon B. Johnson wore a Day-Date, and prior to that so did President Dwight Eisenhower. Our colleague and Rolex historian Jake Ehrlich discusses the “Presidential history” of Rolex and the Day-Date watch here.

The Day-Date watch earned the nickname “President,” which is what it is often referred to.
The Day-Date watch earned the nickname “President,” which is what it is often referred to.

From the start the Rolex Day-Date was meant to be a successful merger between a functional sport-style watch and a prestigious men’s status item. Use of the Oyster case was a part of that – as well as Rolex’s famously dependable mechanical movement. What really benefits the Rolex Day-Date isn’t the fact that Rolex has been producing it since 1956, but rather that Rolex has continued to improve upon it since 1956. It goes without saying that the latest generation Day-Date 40 is the best Rolex has ever produced.

Top 10 Alternatives To The Rolex GMT-Master II Watch

Top 10 Alternatives To The Rolex GMT-Master II Watch ABTW Editors’ Lists
The new Rolex GMT Master-II watches were a big story coming out of Baselworld 2018, and the new ‘Pepsi’ GMT is the “it” uk replica watches
watch right now, with the ‘Root Beer’ drawing slightly more subdued hype as well. Between the madness of paying thousands over retail price for a new Rolex GMT Master-II and the current steel sports watch “shortage” we (myself and Zach Piña) thought it might be a good time to do a list of some of our favorite alternative GMT watches in the spirit of our Top 10 alternatives to the Rolex Submariner article.

the Rolex watches that found their ways on the wrists of, ahem, certain actors who I couldn’t care less about.
the Rolex watches that found their ways on the wrists of, ahem, certain actors who I couldn’t care less about. 

The Rolex GMT Master replica watches was introduced back in 1959 as the commercial aviation industry was going through a huge period of growth. Pilots who were flying across long distances could easily and reliably keep track of different time zones. The GMT hand and rotating bezel allowed for dual-time tracking, which is useful for anyone who travels or needs to keep track of different time zones. Because of this and the Rolex reputation, the GMT Master found its way on the wrist of people like Fidel Castro (who wore a reference 6542 and 1675). I’ve always found this to be infinitely cooler than the Rolex watches that found their ways on the wrists of, ahem, certain actors who I couldn’t care less about.

The follow up GMT Master-II was introduced in 1983 with the current iteration ref. 116710 introduced in 2007. This is the contemporary model with the ceramic bezel and upgrades like the Triplock crown and bigger lugs, crown guards, and numerals. Also, a big improvement in this generation was the new bracelet with the 5mm adjustable Easy-link system. Since then, the current generation of GMT-Master IIs has been associated most with Rolex’s ceramic color technology.

Models like the ‘Batman’ ref. 116710BLNR and the newest ‘Pepsi’ ref. 126710BLRO (there was an existing Pepsi dial, but only available in white gold before this year) have taken turns being the “it” watch of the moment with buyers paying thousands above retail price. As of writing in 2018, the Pepsi model is selling for almost double the MSRP of $9,250 (it will be interesting to see how this ages in a year and more). The black bezel and the ‘Batman’ both retail for around $8,500 – although the all-black bezel model can actually be found for a discount on the second-hand market.

Models like the ‘Batman’ ref. 116710BLNR and the newest ‘Pepsi’ ref.
Models like the ‘Batman’ ref. 116710BLNR and the newest ‘Pepsi’ ref.

And then, there are the gold models and the underrated new two-tone ‘Root Beer’ ref. 126711CHNR which is just under $15,000. I have a feeling this model will age well once the novelty of colored ceramic gets old and the production technology is cheap enough to produce.

In any case, the Rolex GMT-Master II is an icon and chances are if you hear the phrase “GMT” this watch is one of the first few things that will come to mind. Here, we came up with a list of 10 alternatives from “peer” brands like Omega and Breitling as well as more afforable GMT offerings. A successful GMT watch does not need to look like a bi-color Rolex like the Pepsi or Coke. Some watches in this list share that aesthetic, others don’t at all.

Without further ado, here are 10 alternatives to the Rolex GMT-Master II as written by myself and Zach Pina.

OMEGA SEAMASTER PLANET OCEAN GMT ‘COOKIES & CREAM’
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean fan, but when put side to side, I think this is the stiffest competition Rolex faces on the market. I think the black and white bezel ‘Cookies & Cream’ model is the best challenger (note that the Good Planet model is not METAS-certified, which is why I didn’t also choose it – though the all-ceramic Deep Black and Big Blue models are there for someone who wants a bigger and flashier GMT watch.

It comes in a 43.5mm case size with the METAS-certified Co-Axial calibre 8606 movement that has a silicon hairspring, anti-magnetic materials, and a 60-hour power reserve. And, of course, there is an independent hour hand as well as a Liquidmetal bidirectional bezel. One more note about the black and white bezel; Omega says this is the first watch bezel that has two distinct ceramic colors. In comparison, Rolex’s GMT bezel is done in one color with half of the bezel treated to make it a different color.

OMEGA SEAMASTER PLANET OCEAN GMT ‘COOKIES & CREAM’ It’s no secret that I’m a huge Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean fan
OMEGA SEAMASTER PLANET OCEAN GMT ‘COOKIES & CREAM’ It’s no secret that I’m a huge Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean fan

The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT ref. 215.30.44.22.01.001 is water-resistant to 2,000 feet but the tradeoff is the thick case size of 17.04mm. On a steel bracelet, this Omega is priced at $8,000.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

When Rolex initially debuted the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller watch collection at Baselworld 2012, the watch world acted predictably. That reaction was the hesitation that comes from nothing new as presented to a community of ultra-conservatives. Yes, watch collectors tend to be ultra conservative, which is one of the reasons why Rolex as a brand continues to do so well. Buying a Rolex isn’t just buying a tool to tell the time. Buying a Rolex is not only buying into a particular club of Rolex owners, but is also about buying a “design institution.” Get a Submariner or Datejust and you are investing in a look which has been around for more than 60 years. Being able to know what you are getting and that the thing you are getting is already popular is one of the major benefits of getting a Rolex. So what happens when the most conservative watch brand out there offers up something new?

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
Rolex Sky-Dweller Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Mind you that today in 2018 the Rolex Sky-Dweller replica watches
is hardly new but it is still the newest kid (more or less) on the Rolex block. I don’t know the instance prior to the Sky-Dweller launch that Rolex introduced a brand new collection name, but it seems to have been quite long ago. The Sky-Dweller introduced a brand new movement, which happens to be the most complicated movement that Rolex produces. This annual calendar GMT is their “grand complication” and is assembled by a dedicated team among the larger Rolex watchmaker staff. The movement is a beautiful thing in operation and concept, but we will get to that more later.

uk replica watches What also set the Sky-Dweller apart from most other Rolex watches was the size. Even though the case design continues to be the Rolex Oyster that we know and love, Rolex produced it in a 42mm wide case, making it the largest “dressy” timepiece produced by the brand. Also predictable at the time of release was that that Sky-Dweller would be very expensive. Rolex tends to debut new models and movements in all-gold cases, only to release the watch in a two-tone or all-steel variety later. As such, Rolex replica watches
didn’t debut a Rolesor (steel and gold) version of the Sky-Dweller until 2017. There are no all-steel models because Rolex’s signature fluted bezel is made in gold. However, the most “accessible” version of the Sky-Dweller comes with an all-steel bracelet and case with just the bezel in 18k white gold. To put things in perspective the Sky-Dweller in 18k Everose gold on a matching bracelet currently costs $48,850 while the entry level price for the mostly steel model is $14,400. The reviewed reference 326933 is priced at $17,150 because of the added gold material in the bracelet and crown.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
Rolex Sky-Dweller Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The purpose of the Sky-Dweller was to introduce a timepiece for the modern jet-setter who uses his watch both for utility and as a status item. Rolex listened to the desires of many people to produce a larger, everyday non-sports watch and also understood that something many of its customers have in common is travel. The in-house made caliber 9001 automatic movement offers the wearer a different GMT time read-out as compared to Rolex’s other GMT-hand equipped watches, and introduced one of the best annual calendar systems on the market. Annual calendars tend to be considered an ideal combination of complexity and practicality in the context of a mechanical calendar – especially when considering how today’s mechanical watch wearers rely on their watches and often wear multiple watches. Perpetual calendars are indeed more complex, but for many people they simply aren’t practical when you consider that today’s luxury watch lovers tend to wear more than one watch in rotation.

Rolex Sky-Dweller Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
Rolex Sky-Dweller Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Rolex likes to brag about how many patents are in the caliber 9001 (seven of them). It is indeed a really complicated movement. As a company Rolex likes to actually focus on more simple movements because they tend to last longer and require less service. No doubt that the caliber 9001 is robust, and its complexity is actually shrouded by how simple it can be to use. Let’s start with the information on the dial. The most unique part of the Sky-Dweller as compared to other Rolex watches is the exposed eccentric ring on the dial used to display the GMT time. The second time zone is read under 12 o’clock via the red and white arrow pointer. This display was both novel and non-Rolex when it was launched and instantly sparked debate. In fact, so did the entire dial of the original Sky-Dweller watches that had either Arabic or Roman numeral hour markers in the various colors available. While many people appreciated the Sky-Dweller’s novelty when it first came out, few called it particularly pretty.