Mk4 ‘Triple Six’ 16660 Rolex Sea-Dweller
There’s something inherently worthwhile about going absurdly above and beyond a required goal. Maniacal focus to the extent of vastly overachieving has a kind of merit all its own. It’s why Roger Federer didn’t just win Wimbledon once, it’s why the door of a Mercedes S-Class from the 80s shuts with a reassuring ‘thump’ even today, and Saxum wine has a six year waitlist (remind you of anything?). It’s also why the Sea-Dweller exists, an anabolic, overqualified Submariner with technical pedigree to match.
In many ways, this ref. 16660 ‘triple six’ is the archetypal modern Sea-Dweller. While the 1665 is undoubtedly lore, a watch built to be invulnerable truly deserves a sapphire crystal (no cyclops, as god intended). This generation introduced it. Moreover, it embraced the beastly proportions necessary to declare a truly ridiculous 1220m depth rating. A slightly thicker case meant a larger helium escape valve than the 1665. It also was first to have a quick-set date. Together, these improvements spelled daily usability and a doubled depth rating over the previous generation, quadruple that of a then-contemporary Submariner. It will keep telling the time and date perfectly, well after your body has imploded. Well, at least it would around 1984. See what I mean about maniacal over-achieving?
This bulletproof toughness, and sheer value, saw the 16660 gain a dedicated following, particularly in militaries. For example, the keener-eyed among us may have noticed a 116610 on the wrist of Navy SEAL Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods, played by James Badge Dale, in Michael Bay’s 2016 film 13 Hours. The real Rone wore a Triple Six and was seldom pictured without it.
This Mk4 iteration was amongst the earlier dials with white gold surrounds. Some collectors prefer dials with no surrounds, but surely the patina on this example makes up for that threefold. Its bezel is ghosted to a perfect blue-grey, the tritium plots are golden, and its dial is exhibiting the earliest signs of that hallmark cosmic or stardust lacquer tropicalization some adore. The case still has prominent bevels. It even has its full set, including a peeled-off caseback sticker. The Triple Six is something of a sweet spot in Sea-Dwellers for vintage feel and modern usability. And, for all its engineering effort and technical ability, it’s just more interesting than a Sub—if a bit less sexy for its height. There, I said it.
Find this 16660 here from The Vintage Watch Lad for 23000 GBP.