ROLEX – Master of Deep Sea Diving Watches

Wearing a ROLEX is everyone’s dream, because this watch making legend stands out with its exceptional and historical achievements in the horology that no other brand or manufacture can match. Recently, we have witnessed the emergence of many diving watch brands; and also observed that some established watch making brands taking interest in making diving watches. However no other brands can claim superiority over Rolex when it comes to the manufacturing of extreme diving watches.

Rolex has been making exceptional diving watches since the 1950’s and also credited with its involvement in some greatest underwater missions. Today, Rolex makes diving watches under Submariner, Sea-Dweller and Deepsea lines, the most reliable and rugged dive watches available in the market.

ROLEX – Master of Deep Sea Diving Watches

In 1905 in London, Hans Wilsdorf founded a company specializing in the distribution of timepieces in Great Britain and the countries of the British Empire. This pioneer rapidly realized that there were virgin territories to explore, limits to be surpassed and technical feats to be accomplished. He foresaw that the wristwatch would become the predominant timepiece for everyone, provided that it was precise, robust, waterproof and reliable. Hans Wilsdorf decided that he wanted to sign his creations and in 1908 he invented the name Rolex.

A Rolex watch obtained, in 1910, the first certificate in the world granted to a wristwatch by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne, Switzerland. Four years later, a similar model received from the prestigious Kew Observatory in England the first Class A Certificate awarded to a wristwatch, a distinction until then reserved to marine chronometers.

In 1926, Hans Wilsdorf’s efforts on water-proofness were rewarded with success:  the Rolex Oyster, the mother of all exploration watches, was the first waterproof wristwatch in the world. It featured a case equipped with an ingenious patented system including a bezel, case back and winding crown, which were screwed down onto the middle case.

Since it created the Oyster, Rolex has constantly braved the elements on every terrain, everywhere on the planet. Reliable, robust, waterproof, precise: the Oyster, from the beginning, possessed all the characteristics required to be worn on the wrists of determined men and women as they sought to test themselves against the limits of the world.

Rolex would partner generations of explorers seeking to fulfill ideals, setting off to conquer the world and realize their dreams, from the depths of the oceans to the highest mountain tops, into the bowels of the earth and to far-flung corners of the planet.

For Rolex, the pursuit of perfection in its field: designing and manufacturing watches of exceptional technical and aesthetic quality. The brand has enabled explorers to know the time, precisely and reliably, night and day, under extreme conditions, while explorers have, through their experience in the field, helped Rolex to continuously perfect its models, to invent and move forward. The world has thus become a laboratory in which Rolex creates and tests its future models under real conditions.

As of the 1930s, the brand began to equip numerous expeditions setting out to discover the planet with Oyster watches. Then, in the early 1950s, the company developed Professional models, veritable tool-watches whose functions go beyond simply telling time. These watches were intended for specialists – divers, pilots, mountaineers, scientists and cavers – and all those who share similar passions.

For over a century, Rolex has devoted all of its creative energy to manufacturing models that correspond, everywhere and in every way, to the fundamental aspirations of the people who wear them. It is no accident that the brand has become a symbol of quality, precision and prestige – an absolute reference, particularly in the demanding world of exploration.

While determination is one of the primary qualities of an explorer, it is nothing without preparation and attention to detail. Through their robustness, reliability, precision and functions, Rolex watches are tools of human achievement. They free explorers from certain constraints and allow them to concentrate on their main objective, to face the elements while remaining aware of the vital notion of time.

Rolex has always kept one step ahead of exploration in order to meet the needs of men and women who set out to conquer the world. Throughout their journeys and adventures, explorers must defy the elements and endure the worst conditions. The same is true for their equipment and, all the more so, for their watches. Mechanical performance and ergonomics must keep pace with their needs. Each model is unique and reflects the personality of the wearer as well as the special character of his or her accomplishments.

Building on its flagship product, the Oyster launched in 1926, and respecting its standards of excellence, Rolex developed models capable of conquering the highest peaks and trekking through the most hostile environments – like the Explorer – and able to descend into the deepest reaches of the ocean – like the Rolex Deepsea.

In 1927, a young English swimmer, Mercedes Gleitze, swam across the English Channel equipped with an Oyster. When she completed her swim, the watch was in perfect working order. Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex, published a full-page advertisement on the front page of the British newspaper the Daily Mail to celebrate this exceptional event and mark the beginning of “the triumphant march of the Rolex Oyster around the world”. He thus concretized his plans and dreams for the development of the brand with a commitment to participate with passion in human achievements and scientific adventures that would become emblems of Rolex.

Rolex Mercedes Gleitze

The company began its partnership with explorers by becoming associated with polar, Himalayan and aviation expeditions, among others, and then from the 1950s, with underwater exploration of the oceans.

These exploits marked the beginning of a long series of associations between Rolex and explorers which continue to this day. The launch of the Testimonee concept, a unique initiative, also made the brand a precursor in this domain.

The oceans, which cover 70% of the surface of the earth, represent near-infinite grounds for exploration.  The relationship between the marine universe, its depths and Rolex dates back to 1926, the year it launched Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch in the world, whose name was inspired by the tightly closed mollusc. The watch’s patented case is equipped with a winding crown, which, once screwed down, seals it as securely as the hatch of a submarine and protects the movement against humidity and dust.

Deep-sea diving is not only a fascinating way to surpass limits, but also a means to discover the existence of unknown species, rare geographic phenomena and historic vestiges. Chronometric precision, water-proofness and corrosion-resistance are, of course, essential qualities for a diver’s watch. A diver must also constantly monitor his immersion time; a rotatable graduated bezel helps ensure safety.

From 1953, Rolex developed watches capable of reliably accompanying divers to depths of 100, then 200 and 300 metres for the Oyster Perpetual Submariner – and 610, then 1,220 metres for the Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller.

Rolex Submariner - 904L steel
Rolex Submariner – 904L steel

With the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea, the brand descended even deeper into the abysses; this model is waterproof to a depth of 3,900 metres. This accomplishment is the result of remarkable advanced technology.

With such watchmaking expertise, such tools, and such a capacity for research and field testing, the brand is ideally placed to actively support ocean exploration. Over the years, Rolex partnered the most noteworthy marine achievements. For example, the deepest dives of the bathyscaphe Trieste and the submersible DEEPSEA CHALLENGER as well as men and women those count in the field, like internationally renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle and underwater photographer David Doubilet.

In 1953 the first Submariner was launched. This watch, equipped with the patented Twinlock winding crown, was originally waterproof to a depth of 100 metres. The same year, the Submariner could already be worn to a depth of 200 metres. In 1959, the Submariner was enhanced with shoulders to protect the winding crown.

The year 1967 witnessed the birth of the Sea-Dweller 2000, waterproof to a depth of 2,000 feet (610 metres), equipped with a helium escape valve. In 1970 Rolex introduced the Triplock winding crown to reinforce water proofness.

In 1971, Rolex supplied Submariner and Sea-Dweller models to the French company COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises), to equip its expert divers. In 1978 Sea-Dweller 4000 was launched, an exceptional dive watch model having waterproof to a depth of 4,000 feet (1,220 metres), and equipped with a helium escape valve. In 1979, the water-proofness depth of the Submariner was increased to 300 metres.

In 2003, a Submariner equipped with a green bezel insert was launched to mark the 50th anniversary of the first model in the series. Rolex Deepsea was launched in 2008. Equipped with a patented Ringlock System, this new generation diver’s watch can withstand depths of up to 3,900 metres.  To test the watch and guarantee its water-proofness, Rolex uses a hyperbaric tank developed in collaboration with COMEX.

In 2010, the re-styled Submariner Date was enhanced with a new rotatable bezel equipped with a nearly scratch proof Cerachrom bezel insert featuring platinum graduations.

Rolex & Under Water Missions

On 23 January 1960, in the Pacific Ocean, some 320 kilometres from the coast of the US island of Guam, a vessel from another age, the bathyscaphe Trieste, with Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard and American Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh on board, descended to the record depth of 10,916 metres under the sea in the deepest part of the world’s oceans, known as Challenger Deep. Attached to its hull, an experimental model, the Deep Sea Special, was an integral part of the expedition. Specially developed to withstand the colossal pressure present at such great depths, the watch surfaced, almost nine hours later, in perfect working condition.

Bathyscaphe Trieste
Bathyscaphe Trieste

By discovering that life exists nearly 11 kilometres under the surface of the sea, the Trieste and its crew not only set a record with their dive in the Mariana Trench.  They also established a fundamental milestone for deep-sea exploration and in the knowledge of the underwater world.

Deep Sea Special,1960
Deep Sea Special,1960

It took more Than half a century for mankind to return to the deepest reaches of The Mariana Trench with The DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition, opening a new chapter in deep-sea exploration. After the Trieste, only unmanned vessels had ventured to the deepest ocean floor.

Until 26 March 2012, when film-maker and explorer James Cameron made an  unprecedented solo dive to Challenger Deep, with an experimental Rolex Deepsea  Challenge watch attached to the robotic manipulator arm of his submersible. Cameron guided his high-tech DEEPSEA CHALLENGER to a depth of 10,908 metres (35,787 feet), gathering samples for scientific research and filming the ocean floor during the three hours he stayed at the very bottom.

James Cameron Rolex Deepsea  Challenge watch
James Cameron

The experimental watch, guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 12,000 metres (39,370 feet), was exclusively developed and manufactured for the expedition by Rolex, using decades of unique know-how and technology for divers’ watches. James Cameron took a 1960 Deep Sea Special with him in the cockpit, as a tribute to the pioneers of the Trieste that symbolically connected two eras of marine exploration.

Rolex Deepsea  Challenge
Rolex Deepsea  Challenge

True to the brand’s passion for underwater exploration, the Rolex Deepsea Challenge watch was specially developed and manufactured for the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER’s dive.

Working at great depths divers who must work long hours under water breathe a gas mixture containing helium in the pressurized chambers. The Rolex Deepsea, guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 3,900 metres, is equipped with a helium escape valve. Helium atoms, which are even smaller than molecules of oxygen and water, penetrate the watch during a stay in a hyperbaric chamber. The valve prevents this extremely light and volatile gas from causing the watch crystal to be forced out when the gas expands during the rise to the surface.

As of the early 1970s, a preferential relationship was established between Rolex and the Compagnie Maritime d’expertises (CoMex), whose divers wore Rolex Sea-dweller watches while working at great depths. This company, headed by Henri Germain delauze, played a pioneering role in deep-sea diving and remains a world-renowned specialist in hyperbaric engineering and underwater work. The relationship between Rolex and CoMex is as strong as ever today, as demonstrated by the hyperbaric tank developed specially by the Marseille Company to test the Rolex deepsea watches.

Rolex numbers among its Testimonies world-famous figures in the field of deep-sea diving.

For example, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, a bold scientist, explorer, pioneer in the exploration of abysses and the study of marine ecosystems, who has spent over 7,500 hours in the depths and who is steadfastly committed to saving the oceans. Author of more than 150 publications on underwater science, in 2008 she was named “Hero of the Planet” by Time magazine. Next is the American photographer David Doubilet, who is credited with some stunning images of the seabed which are considered as among the most spectacular and recognized worldwide.

They are joined by James Cameron, whose underwater films captured during more than a decade of submersible diving culminated in the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition in 2012. Using pioneering 3D film-making technology, the film-maker and explorer shed light on the unexplored ocean floor for the benefit of scientific research. All their exceptional insights contribute to the general public’s fascination for the ocean and its creatures, while at the same time encouraging their preservation.

A century after the conquest of the North Pole, eight pioneers of extreme frontiers took up the wild challenge of a polar expedition in 2010 to learn about the submerged side of the Arctic. Their mission was to discover and disclose what is hidden under the sea ice, a universe with an unexpected profile consisting of water, ice and crystals, a world that nevertheless harbours life.

North Pole Expedition, 2010
North Pole Expedition, 2010

For 45 days, the team ski-trekked across the top of the globe in the Great Canadian North and dived again and again, bearing witness to an abundant ecosystem that has suffered with global warming. In their luggage, cameras and video equipment and five Rolex Deepsea watches. As Title Sponsor of this scientific and educational expedition, Rolex continued the tradition of exploration that has inspired it for decades.

Rolex Deepsea

In 2008, Thanks To its intrinsic performance, the Rolex Deepsea joined the prestigious lineage with dashing style. The Rolex Deepsea embodies the pioneering spirit that has inspired Rolex, since the 1950s, to develop divers’ watches like the Submariner, then the Sea-Dweller. Its name also alludes to the Deep Sea Special, the experimental model that reached the historic depth of 10,916 metres, in 1960, in the Mariana Trench.

Rolex Deepsea

Waterproof to the extreme depth of 3,900 metres (12,800 feet), the Rolex Deepsea confirms the brand’s supremacy in the mastery of water-proofness. Since its introduction, this quintessential diver’s watch has met Rolex’s demand for robustness, precision and reliability.

Rolex Deepsea

Deep-sea diving is a high-risk activity for explorers, it is vital to offer them absolute reliability and contribute to their safety. Thus, each Rolex Deepsea undergoes the brand’s draconian water-proofness tests. To this end, special equipment was developed with the aid of COMEX, a French company specializing in marine engineering and hyperbaric technologies.

The Rolex Deepsea provides multiple functions indispensable for divers. First of all, the brand created a new generation of case that uses the Ringlock System, allowing the watch to withstand the colossal pressure exerted by water at great depth. This invention, patented by Rolex, is based on the combination of three elements: The high-performance stainless steel ring placed inside the middle case of the watch, between the crystal and the case back, bears the pressure exerted by water on the crystal and the case back.

The synthetic sapphire crystal, slightly domed and noticeably thicker than the ones on the other Oyster models, can resist the pressure exerted at 3,900 metres. The case back, made of a titanium alloy, is held against the ring in the middle case by a 904L steel ring.

The helium valve is made of high-performance stainless steel. It allows the helium that penetrated the watch during the dive in the chamber to escape, thus avoiding the risk that the crystal could be forced out when the gas expands during the rise to the surface. The Triplock winding crown completes this ingenious water-proofness system.

The Rolex Deepsea is equipped with a unidirectional rotatable bezel with a black Cerachrom 60-minute graduated bezel insert, which allows divers to read their immersion time precisely. To optimize this function, Rolex naturally accorded careful attention to legibility. Engraved in the Cerachrom insert, the numerals and the graduations are filled with platinum via a PVD process patented by Rolex.

On the dial, the gold hour markers and hands are wider and coated with a luminescent material. This Chromalight display offers longer lasting visibility. The Rolex Deepsea is equipped with a calibre 3135, featuring a Parachrom hairspring with high resistance to shocks and magnetic fields. Self-winding, with a Perpetual rotor and certified as a chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), this movement has a 48-hour power reserve.

Oyster Perpetual Submariner

For over 50 years, the Oyster Perpetual Submariner has been the absolute reference for divers’ watches the world over.  An essential piece of diving equipment, it symbolizes Rolex supremacy in water-proofness.

The Oyster Perpetual Submariner features a unidirectional rotatable bezel equipped with a 120-notch anti-reverse click system that allows divers to read their dive time and confidently calculate their decompression phases. The bezel only turns counter-clockwise for safety reasons. The Submariner is equipped with an Oyster bracelet with an extension system, which makes it easy to adjust over a diving suit.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner

Self-winding, equipped with a perpetual rotor and certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), the watch is guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 300 metres. It features a sapphire crystal and a Triplock winding crown protected by the shoulders of the case.

The timeless Submariner is made of 904L steel, known for its superb anti-corrosion qualities. For amateurs of aesthetics and objects of beauty, the Submariner also exists in Date, Date Rolesor, gold, or gold and emerald versions. For this watch, originally dedicated to the seabed, is also equally at home on terra firma where it distinguishes itself by its irresistible power of seduction. The luminescent display offers excellent legibility.

Courtesy: ROLEX

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