In my early years as a scientist — diving, using submarines, living underwater, exploring the ocean, the joy of personal discovery was a large motivator. But now I am increasingly driven to not only explore myself but to try to get others to explore. The more people can be engaged personally to actually get in the ocean, to see for themselves how beautiful it is, how vulnerable the ocean is, how much we’re changing the ocean, I think that gives us a better chance as a species to survive.
Every day, time is a measure of life. We have to be mindful of just the miracle of being alive and knowing that you have a chance in the time that you have to make a difference — why not make it a good difference.
Most watches are looked upon as jewellery or — for us explorers — as an equipment to tell the time, but my watch to me has a much deeper meaning. The concept of Rolex is supporting exploration, conservation, the arts and the best that humans can be. So for me, wearing it, it’s like a signature, you care about those things too, you share something with the ethic of caring.
I was inspired to acquire my watch, this very special ally in exploration, when I was diving with my best friend in the Florida Keys at the beginning of the 1980s. She was wearing this watch and when I saw it I looked at it and I pointed to it and shook her arm. I thought she had forgotten to take off her watch, but she just gave me this smile. Only then I saw that it was a Rolex and it was quite capable of diving, not just as deep as we were at the time, but it could go much deeper. And yet it could go to black tie parties, it could go out in the rain, it could go in the shower, it could become — as it has become for me, when I got the same one soon after — just an extension of me, something I would wear all the time, everywhere. It’s like having that sixth sense right there on your arm, as your guide.
The watch has been my companion now for many decades. It has been on expeditions around the world — to the Arctic and the Antarctic, to the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean, deep within the Pacific and aboard probably more than thirty submarines. It’s been with me to speak in front of the United Nations and to meet with people who have great influence — Presidents of the United States, members of congress, heads of state around the world.
But do you know the most important time? It’s probably out there, somewhere in the future. As long as I’m breathing, I expect to be exploring. People ask me: “Do you still dive?” And my answer is: “I am still breathing.”