A deep dive into Rolex’s new milestone

Introducing the Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge – the watch to wear for deep-water adventurers.

By Debbie Hathway

If you are one of the rare few who relish the thought of diving to abyssal depths of 11,000 metres, you’ll no doubt be first in line for the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge. The new heir to the line that has lit the way for explorers of the deep for decades is inspired by filmmaker and explorer James Cameron’s historic 10,908-metre descent with an experimental watch into the Mariana Trench on 26 March 2012. The watch can accompany divers in open water, submersible dives, or hyperbaric chambers and is guaranteed to be waterproof to 11,000 metres. Superlight, thanks to its RLX titanium structure and equipped with a helium escape valve and Ringlock system, this 50mm watch defies limits.

Whereas Cameron’s test watch was attached to the manipulator arm of his submersible, the new watch can be worn on the wrist. Crafted for everyday use, this watch-making accomplishment was made possible using RLX titanium. The grade 5 titanium alloy selected by Rolex is robust and makes the new watch 30% lighter than the 2012 model. For ergonomic cred, some components have been modified, and the crystal has been slimmed down.

Another aspect that differentiates the Deepsea Challenge from the Professional models is the grain in its satin finish and the polished edges of its lugs. Divers can comfortably wear the watch over a diving suit up to 7mm thick thanks to the bracelet extension systems – Rolex Glidelock and the Fliplock extension link.

Full spectrum of Rolex expertise

Naturally, the Deepsea features all the significant innovations developed by the brand over the years: the patented case architecture of the Ringlock system allows the watch to withstand extreme pressure, and the helium escape valve enables surplus gas to be released from the timepiece throughout a diver’s decompression phase in a hyperbaric chamber. This valve reduces the pressure inside the case, which prevents damage to the watch. In addition, the Triplock crown has three sealed zones, and the Chromalight display’s luminescence ensures remarkable clarity.

The waterproofness of each Deepsea Challenge is tested by an ultra-high-pressure tank capable of reproducing the same pressure exerted by water at a depth of 13,750 metres. Rolex developed this facility in partnership with Comex (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises). Calibre 3230, a self-winding movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex, is the beating heart of the watch and contains the patented Chronergy escapement, the Parachrom hairspring, indifferent to magnetic fields, and Paraflex shock absorbers. It offers a power reserve of about 70 hours, made possible by its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency. Typically, the Deepsea Challenge carries the Superlative Chronometer certification and boasts chronometric precision of –2 /+2 seconds per day.

On the caseback, the engraved words “Mariana Trench” and dates “23-01-1960” and “26-03-2012” honour two historic dives into the Earth’s deepest oceanic trench, situated in the Western Pacific Ocean. These accomplishments are credited to oceanographer Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh aboard the Trieste in 1960 and Cameron’s solo descent in Deepsea Challenger in 2012. Experimental Rolex watches were used in both feats.


Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and don’t miss out on regular updates from the YourLuxury Africa team on all things luxurious, beautiful and inspiring.