Watch lovers everywhere were glued to Rolex’s website yesterday (August 4) waiting for the big reveal it had promised. Most of them were actually in bed when the announcement finally came. Rolex had launched its Deepsea Sea-Dweller – a watch that can boast being able to go depths of 3,900m.
Although that is no mean feat, the real story is how Rolex came to develop a timepiece that could withstand pressures that would crush a nuclear submarine. It was all thanks to James Cameron, he of Titanic and Terminator 2 fame, and his Deepsea Challenge expedition. On March 26 2012, Cameron made his record-breaking solo dive in his Deepsea Challenger submersible, which he co-designed, to explore the ocean floor, a place no human being had returned to since January 23 1960, when the first manned dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench was undertaken by the bathyscaphe Trieste.
When Cameron made that dive, affixed to the outside of the submersible were three experimental Rolexes. They had the same architecture as the Deepsea but were much larger. A few weeks earlier, however, as Cameron was putting his submersible through its test run, a standard Deepsea was attached to the sub’s hydraulic arm for a dive of 4,000m.
These amazing feats are thanks to Rolex’s exclusive Ringlock system. This consists of a nitrogen-alloyed stainless steel compression ring, which is positioned inside the watch case providing support for the crystal and the case back. This is the backbone of the watch and the thing that allows it to withstand extreme pressure. There is also a 5mm dome-shaped sapphire crystal and finally a case back in grade-five titanium. This has an almost imperceptible flexibility, which allows the water pressure to strengthen the hermetic seal of the case as the depth increases.
Truth is though, no one is really going to test the Deepsea’s, well, deep sea capabilities so let’s move on to how it looks. The gradient dial, which apparently represents the way the ocean’s colour changes from deep blue to near black as you descend, looks pretty smart. The green “Deepsea” – the same shade as Cameron’s submersible – is a bit of a divider and then there is Rolex’s habit of writing a litany of taxonomies on the dial.
It’s definitely a grower and, at £8,250, fairly priced when you consider that a regular Sea-Dweller is £6,900.
Should you want to get your hands on one of these, you’ll have to wait a little while as it won’t hit the shops until early September. Until then you’ll just have to stay in the shallows…