By TLex Two watches, one company, one destination, and legend spanning over 5 decades. Omega may have put a wristwatch on the surface of the moon, but the challenges of sending a watch the epic 238,857 miles from the earth to the moon pale in comparison to those involved in sending a watch the short 6.8 miles to bottom of the ocean, yet Rolex have done this twice!
On January 23rd, 1960 the Rolex Deep Sea Special, an experimental mechanical wristwatch was strapped to the Bathyscaphe Trieste submersible, manned by two intrepid pioneers of the deep, Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh, and was submerged to the incredible depth of 10,916 meter, 37,800 feet on a monumental dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point on the Earth.
Its steel 'Oyster' case measured just 42.7mm in diameter, but had a thickness of 36mm. It was fitted with an 'Oyster' double-sealed crown, a massive screwdown steel caseback and 18mm thick Plexiglass acrylic crystal. The watch was powered by a Rolex 1570 self-winding mechanical movement. It survived the historic dive in perfect working order. The watch remained unmatched in terms of water-resistance for another 52 years!
On March 26th, 2012, the Rolex Deepsea Challenge, Rolex's state-of-the-art, ultra-high water-resistant wristwatch was strapped to one the robotic arms of the Challenger Deep submersible as it descended 10,908 meters (35,787 feet) to Challenger Deep, the deepest point in the world’s oceans. It was accompanied by expedition leader, film-maker and explorer James Cameron in partnership with the National Geographic Society.
The experimental watch with a WR of 12000m and a load-resistance of 13.6 tonnes was constructed from 904L steel (nitrogen-alloyed steel) with a Grade5 Titanium caseback. It measured 51.4mm with a thickness of 28.5mm. Special features included: a triplock crown, an oyster ring-lock system and a 14.3mm thick Sapphire crystal. It was powered by a Rolex 3135 caliber self-winding mechanical movement. The timepiece worked perfectly throughout the dive despite the extreme pressures.
The Bathyscpahe Trieste is an 18.14m deep sea diving sphere designed by the Swiss scientist Auguste Piccard and originally built in Italy. Composed of two sections, it was built by the company Acciaierie Terni. The upper part was manufactured by the company Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico. It consisted of a float chamber filled with gasoline for buoyancy, with a separate pressure sphere to hold the crew.
The Deepsea Challenger is a 7.3m deep-diving submersible designed to reach the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest known point on Earth. Built in Sydney, Australia by the research and design company Acheron Project Pty Ltd, Deepsea Challenger includes scientific sampling equipment and high-definition 3-D cameras, and reached the ocean's deepest point after roughly two hours of descent from the surface.
Read my review of the HELBERG CH1, the closest I have and ever will come to the original DSS. See my ultra-rare LIVE photos of two of the five Deepsea Challenge watches that were made.