New diving watches have been arriving thick and fast lately, but striding ahead in terms of depth-rating is the Rolex described as “a watch that defies the limits” – the Swiss manufacturer’s Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge.
This “new milestone” was inspired by the experimental watch that in 2012 accompanied film-maker and explorer James Cameron on his 10,908m solo descent to the Mariana Trench in the Deepsea Challenger submersible. So 10 years later the production watch has an 11km depth-rating to match, which should be more than sufficient for most scuba divers.
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It is also 30% lighter then the experimental model, which had been developed in a matter of weeks and dived into the abyss attached to the submersible’s manipulator arm.
The new 50 x 23mm timepiece is made of lightweight grade 5 RLX titanium alloy and employs the Ring Lock pressure-resistance system and helium escape valve to prevent gas build-up. The scratch-resistant domed sapphire crystal has been slimmed down to 9.5mm.
The Triplock crown has three sealed zones, and the unidirectional bezel has a 60min scale over a black Cerachrom insert filled with platinum. The black matte dial has white-gold indices and hands, all filled with Chromalight luminescence for what Rolex says is exceptional legibility.
At the heart of the Oyster case is the in-house 31-jewel Calibre 3230 self-winding movement. This features a Chronergy escapement, a Parachrom hairspring insensitive to magnetic fields and Paraflex shock absorbers. Power reserve is around 70 hours.
The three-link RLX titanium Oyster bracelet employs a Rolex Glidelock clasp and Fliplock fold-out links to allow the watch to be worn over diving suits up to 7mm thick.
Like all Rolex watches, the Deepsea Challenge has “Superlative Chronometer” certification that indicates precision of –2 /+2 seconds per day.
The words “Mariana Trench” and the dates “23-01-1960” and “26-03-2012” are engraved on the case-back, in tribute to Cameron’s Mariana Trench descent as well as the earlier one by Jacques Picard and Don Walsh aboard the Trieste. That expedition back in 1960 also took with it an experimental Rolex.
Oyster cases date back to 1926. In 1953 Rolex released the 100m-rated Submariner (today 300m). 1967’s Sea-Dweller was rated to 610m and later 1,220m, and the 2008 Deepsea to 3,900m.
With the Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge there is nowhere left on Earth for the Rolex to go in terms of depth. The price is 25,750 euros (£22,156).