Watch in Focus – The Rolex Deepsea D-Blue

Movie tie-ins? Limited edition colours? Hip hop-esque naming conventions? The last company you’d associate that little list with is Rolex, but sure enough, the Deepsea D-Blue ticks all of them. Released to celebrate the premiere of James Cameron’s diving epic, Deepsea Challenge 3D, the Deepsea D-Blue says more about the future of Rolex as a company than it does about itself.

Rolex Deepsea

But first, the details: in 2012, James Cameron sank to the lowest point on Earth, a part of the Mariana Trench called ‘Challenger Deep’. On the outside of his vessel (named Deepsea Challenger) was strapped an extreme version of the Rolex Deepsea, which performed flawlessly for the entire eleven-kilometre journey to the bottom. The new D-Blue honours the triumph of both James Cameron and the tech he took with him with a handful of colourful nods, the most obvious being the blue-black gradient on the dial, representing the ominous view Cameron would have experienced as he sank deeper and deeper into the abyss.

Rolex Deepsea D-Blue
The blue dial sinks to a deep black, imitating
the view James Cameron had from his submarine

The other change over the standard Deepsea is the transference of the word ‘Deepsea’ from the top half of the dial to the bottom. The text is pumped up a few point sizes and coloured bright green, the same as that on Cameron’s sub. And that’s where the differences end. The D-Blue has the same 44mm steel case, the same ceramic bezel and stepped rehaut ring, the same titanium caseback insert and fantastically engineered bracelet. Verbally delivered, the changes for the D-Blue special edition seem, well, crass; to see for yourself, they are surprisingly tasteful.

Deepsea D-Blue
Like Cameron’s sub, the Deepsea Challenger, the
Deepsea D-Blue makes use of a vivid green

It comes as no surprise that this turnaround in unwritten company policy (imagine a Concorde special edition GMT-Master, or a limited edition F1 Daytona . . . no? Exactly) sits alongside the introduction of Jean-Frédéric Dufour as Rolex’s new CEO. Fresh from revitalising Zenith following an odd run under Thierry Nataf, Dufour’s credentials are well-known and impressive. The D-Blue may or may not have been devised just before his appointment, but the very fact that it sits in jeweller’s windows is a promising sign for the future of the brand.

Dufour’s approach to Zenith could almost be carbon-copied over to Rolex with little opposition from fans; in fact discussions are already in full flow between eager speculators, wondering what Dufour’s first signature piece will be. With sister company Tudor doing so well with its Heritage line, and Zenith designs borrowing more than a pinch from its back catalogue, Rolex—with Dufour in charge—may well be heading into an era of historic designs that will make their mark for future generations

Rolex Watch
The tech spec of the watch is the same as the standard
model, keeping it sealed down to 3,900m
 
The D-Blue is a nice watch if you already like the standard Deepsea, but it’s so much more than that: it’s a turning point in the previously staid development of Rolex, a nudge back on track to becoming the pioneering watch brand it once was. We’re rooting for you, Jean-Frédéric. We’re rooting for you.
[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

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