While deep pockets, commercial gains and big egos may be drivers for the new space colonisers, there is no denying our collective insatiable hunger for adventure. But we should be working towards making our world a better place. It is sad that according to the National Geographic Society we have mapped and studied a larger percentage of the surface of the Moon and Mars than that of our own ocean floor.
The oceans that we have systematically polluted over decades play an important role in maintaining planetary health for humans and natural systems. Yet “over 80% of the ocean has never been mapped, explored, or even seen by humans”, according to the society’s website. In the 21st century, exploration is now less about pure discovery and is now more about finding solutions to preserve the natural world.
Through its Perpetual Planet initiative, established in 2019, Rolex supports the dedicated explorers on their missions to better understand and protect the environment, especially the uncharted ocean.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge is inspired by the experimental watch that was attached to the manipulator arm of filmmaker-explorer James Cameron’s submersible during his historic 10,908m solo descent into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean on March 26 2012. This date is engraved on the caseback along with the words “Mariana Trench” and the date “23-01-1960”, which is a tribute to oceanographer Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lt Don Walsh who made the first deep dive aboard the Trieste to 10,916m in 1960. Affixed to the outside of their submersible was another experimental model, the Rolex Deep Sea Special.
Omega’s Ultra Deep watches, designed to withstand extreme pressures up to 15,000m, accompanied the crew of the deep submergence vehicle “Limiting Factor” to set a new record in 2019 by reaching an unfathomable 10,935m. However, Rolex has made sure that its new production pieces with waterproofness to 11,000m outshine Omega’s Seamaster Ultra Deep Professional 6,000m spin-off models. In addition, to assure the capabilities of each watch, Rolex partnered with Comex (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises) to create a special ultra-high-pressure simulation tank that produces pressure equivalent to that exerted by water at a depth of 13,750m.
It is certain that recreational divers as well as most professional divers are never going to descend to such skull-crushing depths. Yet, while the specifications of this commercial release may seem extreme — the deepest scuba dive has been recorded at 332.35m — it is this sort of R&D that filters through to make all Rolex watches even more dependable and highlights the manufacture’s mastery of waterproofness beginning with that very first Oyster timepiece, which made the English Channel crossing in 1927 around the neck of endurance swimmer Mercedes Gleitze. Using the great outdoors as its laboratory, Rolex continues its decades-old tradition of supplying its watches to extreme adventures on expeditions where precision and endurance are crucial.
The 50mm Deepsea Challenge builds on the reputation of the 44mm Rolex Deepsea launched in 2008 with waterproofness to 3900m but carries the DNA of the stellar Sea-Dweller family, which dates back to 1967, guaranteed waterproof to 610m and then 1,220m (1978). Crafted from RLX titanium, the Deepsea Challenge featuring the Rolex patented Ringlock case design system able to withstand extreme pressure and a triple waterproof Triplock screw-down crown. A helium escape valve protects the watch from internal damage by releasing surplus gas from the case while commercial divers make decompression stops in a hyperbaric chamber. Its unidirectional rotatable bezel features a black Cerachrom insert with 60-minute graduations and its black dial has large Chromalight hour markers and hands that will emit an enduring blue glow for superb legibility in the dark abyss.
Inside beats the in-house calibre 3230 with a power reserve of around 70 hours. This self-winding movement features the Chronergy escapement and Parachrom hairspring, insensitive to magnetic fields, and Paraflex shock absorbers. All Rolex watches carry the Superlative Chronometer certification and the Deepsea Challenge also has chronometric precision of -2/+2 seconds per day.
- R434,500 at rolex.com
- Rolex Watch Co SA 011-784-9230