Best picks Friday, April 20th 2012
On 26 March 2012, the expedition Deepsea Challenge descended 10,898 metres to reach the Challenger Deep, the ocean’s deepest point located in the Mariana Trench. Attached to the manipulator arm of the submersible, a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge.
Rolex Deepsea Challenge © Rolex / Jean-Daniel Meyer
In keeping with its passion for undersea exploration, Rolex played an active part in the Deepsea Challenge expedition of film director and explorer James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar) in partnership with the National Geographic Society. On 26 March this year, the expedition descended in the Challenger Deep to a depth of 33,528 feet (10,898 metres), the world’s deepest point, in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench. This trench was formed by subduction, a geological phenomenon whereby one tectonic plate moves underneath another, in this case the Pacific and Philippines plates.
A Rolex watch attached to the manipulator arm of the submersible accompanied James Cameron as he dived to the depths of Challenger Deep. The Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge, an experimental divers’ watch, was specially developed and manufactured for the occasion, tested and guaranteed waterproof to new depths, confirming Rolex’s position as the leading brand in waterproofness.
Both James Cameron’s expedition and the Rolex Deepsea Challenge directly echo the bathyscaphe Trieste’s historic dive on 23 January 1960, until today the first and only manned dive to what was then the deepest-known point in the Mariana Trench. During this adventure, led by Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard and the then Lieutenant Don Walsh, an experimental Oyster model, the Deep Sea Special, attached to the hull accompanied the Trieste into the abyss. It reached the record depth of 10,916 metres, returning to the surface in perfect working order, a feat that remains unrivalled to this day.
Rolex a natural partner
Rolex is therefore a natural partner, with the National Geographic Society, for the Deepsea Challenge expedition, a project that combines human adventure and technological innovation, the pursuit of excellence and pushing the limits of man’s potential. Such endeavours correspond to the brand’s core values and the philosophy inherited from its founder, Hans Wilsdorf. The Trieste’s dive in 1960 marked the culmination of Rolex’s relationship with the underwater world. And the partnership with James Cameron’s expedition marks a new and no less spectacular milestone in the history of the brand’s privileged ties with the oceans. A history dating back to 1926 and the invention of the Oyster, the world’s first-ever waterproof wristwatch.
The Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge is an experimental divers’ watch guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 12,000 metres, entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex to resist the extreme pressure present in the deepest reaches of the oceans. It is manufactured by an entirely integrated watchmaker with unparalleled design, development and production capacities. Through its inherent qualities, tested and proved in real life conditions during filmmaker and explorer James Cameron’s dive to 10,898 metres, it is the emblematic product of an entirely integrated watchmaker with unparalleled design and production capacities.
Technically, the Rolex Deepsea Challenge is an enhanced version of the commercial Rolex Deepsea professional divers’ watch (guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 3,900 metres) introduced in 2008. The new experimental watch is 51.4 mm in diameter and 28.5 mm thick. Its design is based on the Ringlock System case architecture of the Rolex Deepsea. This intricate three-piece case architecture features a highly resistant nitrogenalloyed stainless steel support ring as the backbone of the watch. Placed inside the middle case made of 904L stainless steel superalloy, it supports a 14.3 mm thick domed sapphire crystal, made of high-purity aluminium oxide, and a 5.3 mm screwdown case back made of grade 5 titanium.
The watch is tested at a pressure of 1,500 bars
The Rolex Deepsea Challenge is fitted with a patented Triplock screw-down winding crown with a triple waterproofness system, the same type that equips all Rolex divers’ watches. It also has other technical features of the Rolex Deepsea, such as a unidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated bezel with a Cerachrom insert in ceramic; a Chromalight display with long-lasting luminescence (hands and hour markers); a self-winding mechanical movement (calibre 3135) with a paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring; and a solid-link Oyster bracelet fitted with an Oysterlock clasp with a safety catch and the Rolex Glidelock and Fliplock diving extension systems.
To comply with the stringent certification requirements for divers’ watches, the watch is tested by Rolex in a specially created hyperbaric tank at a pressure of 1,500 bars, corresponding to the pressure at a depth of 15,000 metres, 25% greater than the depth to which the watch is guaranteed waterproof. At a depth of 15,000 metres, the load exerted on the crystal is 17 tonnes (13.6 tonnes at 12,000 metres), and on the case back nearly 23 tonnes; a total of some 40 tonnes is borne by the support ring in the middle case.
This watch bears witness in a spectacular way to the privileged ties that link Rolex to exploration in general and to the underwater world in particular. With this new achievement, the experimental Rolex Deepsea Challenge perpetuates the adventure of the Oyster and the pioneering spirit of innovation that has forged the reputation of Rolex. ■
Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH
Article published in FH Revue