Guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 11,000 metres (36,090 feet), crafted from RLX titanium, and equipped with a helium escape valve and the Ringlock system, it is capable of accompanying divers in any environment – during open-water diving, submersible dives or in hyperbaric chambers. A watch designed to turn pressure into an ally in any situation, and an invitation to expand yet further the horizons of the deep. The ultimate watch of the deep, the Deepsea Challenge is a diver with unprecedented credentials, designed to withstand extreme pressure. Years of research were required to overcome the watchmaking and manufacturing challenges that its fabrication presented.
While the experimental watch of 2012 was attached to the manipulator arm of James Cameron’s submersible, the Deepsea Challenge is designed to be worn on the wrist. From the production of the case to that of the bracelet, each element of this 50 mm watch has been crafted with everyday use in mind. A watchmaking accomplishment made possible by using a grade 5 titanium alloy selected by Rolex: RLX titanium. Thanks to this robust and particularly lightweight metal, the new watch is 30% lighter than the experimental model of 2012.
To create a timepiece of harmonious and ergonomic proportions, modifications were made to some of the components – the crystal, for instance, was slimmed down. The Deepsea Challenge is distinctive among the Professional watches for the particularly visible grain in its satin finish and the polished edges of its lugs. The bracelet extension systems – Rolex Glidelock and the Fliplock extension link – allow the watch to be worn over a diving suit up to 7 mm thick.
The Deepsea Challenge incorporates the full spectrum of Rolex’s expertise in divers’ watches. It includes all the major innovations developed by the brand over many years: the Ringlock system, a patented case architecture that enables the watch to withstand extreme pressure; the helium escape valve, which allows surplus gas to escape from the watch during a diver’s decompression phase in a hyperbaric chamber, reducing the pressure inside the case which could otherwise damage the watch; the Triplock crown, with three sealed zones; and the Chromalight display, whose long-lasting luminescence provides exceptional legibility. To test the waterproofness of each Deepsea Challenge, Rolex specially developed, in partnership with Comex (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises), an ultra-high-pressure tank capable of reproducing a test pressure equivalent to that exerted by water at a depth of 13,750 metres
At the heart of the Oyster case is calibre 3230, a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. A consummate demonstration of technology, this self-winding movement contains several patented components: the Chronergy escapement and the Parachrom hairspring, insensitive to magnetic fields, as well as Paraflex shock absorbers. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, calibre 3230 offers a power reserve of approximately 70 hours. Like all Rolex watches, the Deepsea Challenge carries the Superlative Chronometer certification and boasts chronometric precision of the order of –2 /+2 seconds per day.
The Deepsea Challenge is engraved with the words “Mariana Trench” as well as the dates “23-01-1960” and “26-03-2012” on the case back, in tribute to two historic dives into the Mariana Trench: that of oceanographer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh aboard the Trieste, in 1960, and James Cameron’s solo descent in DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, in 2012. Both expeditions took experimental Rolex watches with them. The design of the watch that accompanied James Cameron’s dive presented a sizeable challenge for the brand in a short production time. Tested to withstand a depth of 15,000 metres and 17 tonnes of pressure on the crystal, it was developed in only a few weeks, thanks to the extensive experience of the Rolex teams in the domain of deep-sea divers’ watches.
Throughout the seven-hour dive, three hours of which were spent at the bottom filming and collecting samples, this experimental watch flawlessly withstood the tremendous pressure, as the 1960 watch had also done. Today, the Deepsea Challenge marks a new milestone in the human and technical adventure that Rolex engineers and deep-sea explorers have shared for decades.
Since the very start, waterproofness has been a fundamental pillar of Rolex’s watchmaking expertise. In 1926, the Oyster case was unveiled – a completely hermetic construction in which the bezel, case back and winding crown screwed down against the middle case. For nearly a century, Rolex has developed ever more advanced systems – such as the Twinlock and Triplock crowns, and the Ringlock system – to protect the inside of its watches. To meet the needs of deep-sea diving professionals, in 1953 Rolex released the Submariner, which was guaranteed waterproof to 100 metres (330 feet) and today to a depth of 300 metres (1,000 feet). In 1967, the brand launched the Sea-Dweller, a divers’ watch fitted with a helium escape valve and guaranteed waterproof to 610 metres (2,000 feet), then to 1,220 metres (4,000 feet). The Rolex Deepsea, presented in 2008, is a watch made for the challenges of the deep. Equipped with the Ringlock system, it can resist the pressure exerted at 3,900 metres (12,800 feet). With the Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge, whose waterproofness is guaranteed to 11,000 metres (36,090 feet), the deepest depths open new horizons.