Rolex Goes Deep

A league of its own.

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After hitting an iceberg on April 14, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic sank to 12,500 feet. If history were to repeat itself, and you found yourself caught in the midst, you could count on your Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller DeepSea watch. Even if it were accidentally left behind during your escape, it would be the only watch to come back from the bottom of the ocean still ticking.

Revealed at the 2008 BaselWorld exhibition this past March, Rolex’s latest innovation is the product of man’s inherent desire to push the boundaries of dreams and potential. Capable of being submerged up to a depth of 12,800 feet, the Sea-Dweller DeepSea exceeds a scuba diver’s human limits by over 100 times.

This waterproofing is science at its finest. Rolex has built on their existing Oyster Models by using a synthetic sapphire crystal that is slightly domed and substantially thicker than the usual crystals used to resist pressure. The DeepSea’s case back is made of a titanium alloy, an extremely resistant stainless material. Rolex also uses what they call a “Ringlock System”, a high-performance nitrogen-alloyed stainless steel ring set inside the middle case of the watch between the crystal and the case back, to withstand the pressure exerted by water on the crystal and the case back.

Between dives, professional divers must use pressurized caissons, which release high-pressure gas mixtures to breathe, notably including the extremely volatile gas helium. These gases can penetrate a watch and cause damage. Thus, Rolex has created a remarkable safety feature, a stainless steel helium valve, which, during the decompression phase, releases the gases that infiltrate into the watch during caisson dives, and prevents damage to the watch as the diver resurfaces.

If this latest Sea-Dweller is your deepest desire, getting your hands on one may require a prodigious effort. The DeepSea is being produced in limited quantities, and of course, it has been received with much acclaim. You had better be prepared to pay a premium price, given the bidding frenzy has thus surfaced. Rolex collectors should also take note that now with the DeepSea, Rolex has stopped production on original Sea-Dweller models, and remaining quantities are expected to sell out by the start of the new year.

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December 1, 2008