Contrary to the brand’s usual practice, Rolex has unveiled a new watch in August and dedicated it to a director and an explorer, James Cameron, or more precisely, to his amazing feat from two years ago. In March of 2012, Cameron piloted a submersible and became the first human to reach the deepest point of our planet – the lowest part of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The commemorative Rolex dedicated to this accomplishment is made with a peculiar blue dial that evokes the expedition. It gradually shifts from blue to darker and darker shades, all the way to black on its lower portion and thus symbolizes the plunge to “the bottom of the Earth”. Otherwise, the watch is basically the same as the black-faced Reference 116660 model launched in 2009. It retains the same type of in-house automatic caliber housed in an extremely robust case whose construction allows it to be waterproof to 12,800 feet (3,900 meters). The only other difference between the original model from five years ago and the new one which tributes Jim Cameron’s historic dive is the position of the “Deepsea” inscription which is now moved up and written in the color that matches the director’s gone explorer’s submersible.
The launch of new model is no surprise, since Rolex was heavily involved in the Cameron’s expedition from two years ago from the start. For the occasion, the watchmaker with the crowned logo made special Deepsea Challenge timepiece that was able to withstand the same force as the submersible which plummeted to the extreme depths of almost 36,000 feet. The outside of the vessel was equipped with the special Rolex which continued to function properly during and after the plunge. The special model used in the mission was over three times more resistant to pressure than Deepsea Reference 116660 model, but in essence, it used the same basic concept in its construction. The only difference is that it had larger dimensions than the 44 mm wide Deepsea watch, which ultimately enabled it to withstand larger pressures.
However, this model was made specifically for the mission and it was never available for sale unlike Deepsea on which it was modeled upon.
Needless to say, even the “lower” water resistance of Deepsea that measures to 12,800 feet (3,900 meters) is immensely extreme and much more than any human being could physically withstand. To put it in different terms, the watch’s ability to be submerged so deep means that it is able to withstand the weight of three tones. For example, this is the same as if a Hummer would be parked on it. In order for watch to be anywhere near this strength, Rolex made use of a few tricks in its construction.
Ringlock System, Helium Valve and other Tricks
For starters, Oyster-type case is equipped with the Ringlock System that stands behind the amazing resistance to pressure. This system, exclusive to the manufacturer, is centered on three basic components. Going from front to back, it involves a massive 5 mm thick domed sapphire crystal, a central ring made from nitrogen alloy reinforced stainless steel (904L steel) and a rear case side forged of grade 5 titanium. When the watch is submerged further and further down, the pressure pushes these three segments tighter towards each other which makes the construction more compact and ultimately preserves the watch’s integrity. In a way, its waterproofness raises with the depth. Additionally, the case-back in titanium possesses astounding elasticity which is characteristic for the material.
Moreover, the timepiece is equipped with another Rolex trademark – helium escape valve which basically acts like a miniaturized decompression chamber which is activated before the pressures in case and in the surroundings reaches critical levels. When the pressure is between 3 and 5 bars, the minute chamber is opened, the watch releases helium and the built-up pressure inside the housing.
Diver in Essence
Rolex Deepsea D-Blue Dial showcases a few more traits that are useful for diving. The first one of those is a Chromalite display. The luminous material with a light blue display lasts twice as long when compared to common luminescent materials. It is used for three central hands, on hour markers, as well as on a dot on the top of the uni-directional bezel with a ceramic insert and graduations coated in platinum. Finally, the watch’s 904L steel bracelet is made with a safety clasp which has a Glidelock extension system that allows the watch to be worn over a diving suit. This feature allows the Oyster type wristlet with three rows of flat segments to be extended anywhere from 2 mm to 20 mm.
Neatly Tucked-In Proprietary Automatic Chronometer
As it has been said, the new commemorative type of Rolex Deepsea has the same beating heart as its black-faced predecessor from 2009. Hidden inside the case there is a Perpetual self-winding mechanical caliber 3135 with the COSC chronometric certification. When functions are concerned, the movement features three central hands, an instantaneous date with a rapid setting displayed via the aperture at the three o’clock position, as well as a stop-second option for precise time-setting. Furthermore, it is supplied with a paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring. This hairspring is made in a material which is virtually unaffected by magnetic fields. It is also less influenced by temperature shifts and ten times more resistant to shocks. The power reserve of caliber 3135 lasts for two days.
Although revealed two years after the historic dive by James Cameron, the unveiling of Rolex Deepsea D-Blue coincides with the release of his documentary about the expedition. The price of the new Rolex model is still undisclosed.