In 2014 Rolex released a special version of the model, the Rolex Deepsea with a D-blue dial, to commemorate James Cameron’s historic solo dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, some 11,000 metres deep. From twilight blue to bottomless black, its two-colour gradient dial celebrates one man’s journey to the deepest place on Earth.
The Sea-Dweller’s 60-minute graduated, unidirectional rotatable bezel enables divers to safely monitor their dive and decompression times. It is equipped with a patented black Cerachrom bezel insert manufactured by Rolex in a virtually scratchproof and corrosion proof ceramic whose colour is unaffected by ultraviolet rays. The graduation is coated via PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) with a thin layer of platinum.
No other watch is engineered like the Rolex Deepsea. Waterproof to an extreme depth of 3,900 metres (12,800 feet), this new-generation divers’ watch benefits from exclusive innovations developed by Rolex to exceed the most exacting demands of professional divers.
For excellent legibility in dark conditions, the sleek black dial features large Chromalight hour markers and hands filled with luminescent material that emits a long-lasting blue glow.
Early saturation divers experienced a troublesome phenomenon that affected their watches during the decompression phase in hyperbaric chambers filled with breathing mixes composed largely of helium.
Helium molecules are so tiny that they can slowly penetrate the watch case through the gaskets, so the pressure inside the watch equalizes with the pressure inside the habitat. However, during a diver’s decompression process to be slowly brought back to normal atmospheric pressure, the gas is unable to escape from the waterproof case sufficiently quickly.
To address this issue, Rolex invented and patented the gas escape valve for watches, a one-way valve which safely allows the helium trapped in the watch to be released at a given pressure during decompression, while preserving the tight waterproofness of the Oyster case.
This innovation brought the final touch to the resistance to pressure – both internal and external – of the Sea-Dweller’s case, resulting in a watch perfectly adapted to the requirements of deep-sea divers. The Rolex Deepsea owes its exceptional strength, waterproofness and pressure resistance to the exclusive Ringlock system.
In 1960, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard forever raised the bar for marine exploration by piloting the bathyscaphe Trieste to the deepest point in the world’s oceans, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.
On 26 March 2012, film-maker and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence James Cameron descended into the Mariana Trench in his submersible, making the deepest-ever solo dive.
It was the first manned dive to the deepest part of the Trench, known as Challenger Deep, since the pioneering two-man Trieste expedition of 1960. Only one passenger joined both voyages: a Rolex watch.
James Cameron also took the 1960 Deep Sea Special watch produced by Rolex with him in the cockpit, as a tribute to the pioneers of the Trieste and as a symbolic connection between two eras of exploration.
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