I’ve always loved the Sea-Dweller. In fact, I’ve had a couple of magnificent Great Whites as well as both drilled and non-drilled versions of the 16600; I’ve even had a gorgeous stardust Triple 6. For a desk diver like me they’re a bit daft really, but the very things that polarise opinion when it comes to the Sub v SD debate epitomise why I’ve enjoyed owning them. For that reason, I don’t intend waffling on about the merits or otherwise of the SD 4000 over the Subc, because everyone has a view already and that view won’t change on the back of my comments. I do think the changes are worth a mention in the context of new v old SD, though.
Firstly, the case. I don’t know why Rolex decided that they needed a mid-size in the line-up but personally I think they’ve got it just right. The lugs on the 4000 are probably halfway between the old style of the 16600 and the newer maxi cases. This has the effect of giving the watch greater bulk and wrist presence without “squaring off” the shape like some of the other models in the current line-up. I think they’ve got it spot on, actually, but these things are clearly pretty subjective.
Secondly, much has been made of the matt maxi dial but to be honest the difference in finish is fairly subtle. Sometimes you can see clearly that it has a matt finish, but mostly the black is deep and rich, and not much different to the gloss dial of the 16600. The maxi sized plots are a huge improvement, though, as to my mind those on the previous model (and on the 16610, for that matter) are now looking far too small in the face of recent changes.
Finally, the ceramic bezel is a big change for sure, but whilst the look is completely different to the old aluminium inserts it’s really not “blingy” at all, as has been suggested more than once. In fact, in certain light it takes on a grey hue and almost looks matt itself, much like the bezel on the MM300 if anyone can picture that. I think this is a clear upgrade, as is the newer style glidelock clasp on the bracelet.
The only thing I can’t quite get my head around is the design of the end-links. I’ve taken a couple of shots to show the issue clearly, but the end-links are proud of the lugs where they curve downwards and are also on a different plane on the outside to the section in the centre. All in all it’s a bit confused, but needless to say it’s unnoticeable when the watch is on the wrist, and I’m being really picky.
I suspect that those who like the SD as a concept with still like the latest incarnation, and those that don’t will unlikely be swayed by the changes. I’m certainly very happy with it, though, and reckon it’s a perfect diver/sports watch and a close to perfect all-rounder. A few shots below, of course, which hopefully highlight the changes and demonstrate what I was trying to describe with regard to the end-links. In short, a bloody good watch.
And an iPhone shot from earlier today…