On 26 March 2012, film-maker and explorer James Cameron made a record-breaking solo dive to 10,908 metres (35,787 feet) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, piloting the Deepsea Challenger submersible. No human being had returned to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench since 23 January 1960, the date of the first manned dive to the bottom by the bathyscaphe Trieste. Cameron remained on the ocean floor for three hours to explore, take samples and capture the first-ever high-resolution images of this last frontier. The samples taken on the expedition have since led to the identification of at least 68 new species living in the ocean.
Last month Deepsea Challenge 3D, a National Geographic documentary made on Cameron’s famous dive had its premier at the Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History in New York , in the presence of the director as well as other personalities from the worlds of underwater exploration and cinema. The documentary, like the dive itself, was supported by Rolex, which honoured the occasion with the launch of a brand new Rolex Deepsea.
This ultimate divers’ watch, resistant to extreme pressure, is equipped with a `D-blue’ dial representing the colours of the deep. The deep blue to pitch-black gradient dial is reminiscent of the ocean’s twilight zone where the last trickle of light from the surface disappears into the abyss, echoing Cameron’s expedition. As a tribute to the partnership between Rolex and Cameron, the `Deepsea’ marking on the new dial adopts the colour of the explorer’s green submersible as it is perceived underwater.
A new-generation divers’ watch, Rolex Deepsea benefits from technical innovations like the Ringlock System, which enables the watch to resist the gigantic pressure exerted by water at the depth of 3,900 metres, equivalent to a weight of approximately three tonnes on the crystal. It also features the Triplock winding crown, equipped with three seals that screws down securely against the case, completing the waterproofness system and offering watertight security akin to a submarine’s hatch.
The case of the Rolex Deepsea is also equipped with a heliumescape valve. This allows the helium that penetrates the watch during deepwater saturation dives to escape, without harming the timepiece when the gas expands during the decompression stages in a hyperbaric chamber.
The unidirectional rotatable bezel of the Rolex Deepsea is fitted with a 60-minute graduated black Cerachrom insert that allows divers to monitor their time under water for their safety. The insert, made of an extremely hard and corrosion-resistant ceramic, is virtually scratchproof and its colour is unaffected by ultraviolet rays. The numerals and the graduations are engraved in the ceramic and coated with platinum using a PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) process.
The bezel’s knurled edge offers excellent grip when manipulating the bezel to set dive time. The Chromalight hour markers and hands are filled with a luminescent material emitting a long-lasting blue glow – lasting up to two times longer than traditional materials. On the bezel, the zero marker of the graduation, in the form of a triangle, is visible in the dark thanks to a capsule containing the same luminescent material. The watch’s bracelet is equipped with an Oysterlock safety clasp that prevents accidental opening, and with a double extension system that allows the watch to be worn comfortably over a diving suit up to 7 mm thick.
Rolex Deepsea continues in the brand’s a pioneering role in the conquest of the deep including the creation in 1926, of the Oyster, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, followed by professional divers’ watches: the Oyster Perpetual Submariner (1953), Sea-Dweller (1967) and Rolex Deepsea (2008). Rolex of course was famously involved with Trieste and the Deepsea Challenge expeditions. During both historic dives, an experimental Rolex watch attached to the hull of the submersible was exposed to the most colossal water pressure on the planet, some 11 kilometres (7 miles) below the surface. Both watches emerged working perfectly, illustrating the supremacy of Rolex in mastering waterproofness.