Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge
Geneva, 1 November 2022 –
Filmmaker and explorer James Cameron unveils the Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge. Inspired by the experimental watch that accompanied him on his historic 10,908-metre (35,787 feet) descent into the Mariana Trench on 26 March 2012, the Deepsea Challenge represents a new milestone in the world of Rolex divers’ watches. 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 freedives, 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.
of Rolex expertise
in an exceptional divers’ watch
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, every 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 (45,112 feet).
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.
A homage to explorers of the abyss
The Deepsea Challenge is engraved with the words “Mariana Trench”
as well as the dates “23-01-1960”
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 (49,200 feet) 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.
The incessant quest for waterproofness
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 subsequently to 300 metres (1,000 feet). In 1967, the brand launched the Sea-Dweller, a divers’ watch fitted with an automatic helium release 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.
As profound as the depths of the ocean may be, they open up new horizons for humanity. But reaching these yet undiscovered locations requires withstanding extreme pressure. For almost 70 years, Rolex has accompanied explorers, developing ever more powerful tool watches. Models that became both watchmaking icons and benchmarks in the diving world, namely the Submariner (launched in 1953), the Sea-Dweller (1967) and the Rolex Deepsea (2008). A result of this expertise, the Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge represents a new milestone in the journey to the deep.
into an ally
La Deepsea Challenge, a watch that defies the limits
Waterproof to the extreme depth of 11,000 metres (36,090 feet), the Deepsea Challenge far surpasses human capabilities to withstand pressure. For optimal comfort on the wrist while ensuring its promised performance, this new model in the Oyster Perpetual collection is made from RLX titanium.
The embodiment of Rolex’s quest for excellence, it defines the depths of the ocean as a new frontier of exploration. These territories, deemed hostile and relatively unstudied, are actually a source of essential information necessary to the preservation of the planet. Withstanding extraordinary pressures, diving to the depths of human capabilities, expanding the boundaries of our knowledge: the Deepsea Challenge is fully capable of accompanying the pioneers of tomorrow in the face of these challenges.
The culmination of years of experimentation
Unveiled in 2022, the Deepsea Challenge is engraved with the words “Mariana Trench”
as well as the dates “23-01-1960”
on the case back, in homage to the two historic dives into the Mariana Trench in which Rolex watches took part.
The record by Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh
On 23 January 1960, the Deep Sea Special – an experimental Rolex watch designed to resist extreme pressure – accompanied oceanographer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh when they set their diving record in the Mariana Trench. Attached to the exterior of the bathyscaphe Trieste, it reached a depth of 10,916 metres (35,814 feet).
This mission off the island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean created a window to the abyss, an underwater world that most researchers until this point considered void of all forms of life. After touching down on the bottom, the two men looked out into the darkness and were amazed to discover many living creatures. After the bathyscaphe’s ascent, Jacques Piccard sent a telegram to Rolex: “Happy to announce that your watch works as well at 11,000 metres as it does on the surface.”
James Cameron’s solo feat
It was not until 26 March 2012 that another explorer, filmmaker James Cameron, would decide to take his turn in the Mariana Trench, descending alone and reaching a depth of 10,908 metres (35,787 feet).
A new experimental Rolex watch – the Rolex Deepsea Challenge – was developed and attached to the manipulator arm of the submersible. The fabrication of such a watch presented a two-fold challenge for the brand. That of the pressure at such depths, of course – the watch would be tested to withstand a theoretic pressure of 15,000 metres (49,200 feet) and 17 tonnes of pressure on the crystal – but also that of the time allocated for its design, development and production.
Thanks to its extensive experience in the domain of underwater exploration, Rolex successfully developed the watch in only a few weeks. The timepiece flawlessly withstood the tremendous pressure of the seven-hour dive, three hours of which were spent at the bottom filming and collecting samples.
The Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge is an extension of the experimental watch created for James Cameron’s dive. It is a watch that pushes back the frontiers of innovation, as capable of resisting abyssal pressure as countering the adverse effects related to helium. A guarantee of trust for underwater explorers, the Deepsea Challenge is also a source of daily inspiration for everyday wearers on their quest to defy the limits.
of the Deepsea
- Divers’ watch, crafted from RLX titanium
- 50 mm Oyster case
- Guaranteed waterproofness to a depth of 11,000 metres (36,090 feet)
- Ringlock system (patented case architecture)
- Helium escape valve
- Unidirectional rotatable bezel with 60-minute graduated monobloc Cerachrom insert
- Chromalight display (long-lasting luminescence)
- Superlative chronometer certification, specific to Rolex
- International five-year guarantee
- Manufacture Rolex self-winding mechanical movement, COSC certified
- Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring
- Chronergy escapement
- High-performance paraflex shock absorbers
- Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system and Fliplock extension link
An adaptation of the experimental watch developed for James Cameron, the Deepsea Challenge is the fruit of the extensive Rolex expertise and know-how in the world of divers’ watches. Crafted from RLX titanium and equipped with the 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. The design and proportions of the watch were also carefully considered to ensure that it is both comfortable to wear and visually harmonious.
RLX titanium is a grade 5 titanium alloy selected by Rolex for its lightness and resistance to deformation and corrosion. Although insensitive to abyssal pressure, the experimental watch that accompanied James Cameron in the Mariana Trench still posed a wearability problem due to its weight, as it was made from 904L steel. To address this issue, RLX titanium was used to create the case and bracelet of the Deepsea Challenge, considerably reducing its weight: the watch is 30% lighter than the experimental watch that inspired it. This new watch has a particularly visible grain in the satin finish on the bracelet and middle case – with the exception of the crown guard. In order to highlight the curved profile of the lugs, the top edges have been chamfered and polished.
Rolex’s patented Ringlock system equips the brand’s divers’ watches designed for extreme depths. An extension of the research dedicated to the waterproofness of the Oyster, this system consists of a reinforced case architecture comprising a thick, slightly domed sapphire crystal, a nitrogen-alloyed steel compression ring, and a case back made from RLX titanium. This construction allows the Deepsea Challenge to withstand the pressure exerted by water at 11,000 metres (36,090 feet), the depth to which it is guaranteed waterproof. In partnership with Comex (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises), Rolex developed an ultra-high-pressure tank to test the waterproofness of the Deepsea Challenge. Each watch is tested, as required by the standards for divers’ watches, with an additional safety margin of 25%, meaning that it is subjected to a pressure equivalent to that exerted by water at a depth of 13,750 metres (45,112 feet).
The helium escape valve was developed by Rolex in order to overcome new limitations experienced by divers’ watches during saturation dives. In a hyperbaric chamber, watches progressively fill with helium, as the atoms of this gas, present in the mix that the divers breathe, are so tiny that they can pass through the watch’s waterproof seals.
During decompression phases, if helium remains trapped, it can damage the watch and even cause the crystal to separate from the case. Invented by Rolex and patented in 1967, this safety valve activates automatically when the pressure inside the case is too high.
of Rolex expertise
in an exceptional divers’ watch
Chromalight display: unparalleled legibility
Exclusive to Rolex and presented in 2008 for the launch of the Rolex Deepsea, the Chromalight display is characterized by its luminescent material, applied to the hands, the hour markers and the capsule on the rotatable bezel. Containing aluminium, strontium, dysprosium and europium, this substance, the result of a complex and delicate manufacturing process, emits a characteristic blue glow that is exceptionally bright and long-lasting, far outperforming watchmaking standards. Bracelet and extension systems: easy adjustment
Réalisé en titane RLX, le bracelet Oyster de la Deepsea Challenge bénéficie à la fois des lames Fliplock et du système Rolex Glidelock, des systèmes innovants de rallonge ne nécessitant aucun outillage pour leur manipulation. Grâce à la combinaison de ces deux rallonges, la montre peut être portée par-dessus une combinaison de plongée d’une épaisseur allant jusqu’à 7 mm.Triplock crown: reinforced waterproofness
Unveiled in 1970, the Triplock winding crown includes two sealed zones inside the crown tube and a third inside the crown itself. This triple waterproofness system provides Rolex divers’ watches with strengthened impermeability. The watches fitted with this system have three markings located under the Rolex emblem on the face of the winding crown. The creation of this winding crown, a technological masterpiece, calls on the skills of almost all of the experts specialized in case and bracelet manufacture.
A movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology
The Deepsea Challenge is equipped with calibre 3230, a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex that was released in 2020. A consummate demonstration of technology, this self-winding mechanical movement led to the filing of several patents. It offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.
Calibre 3230 incorporates the patented Chronergy escapement, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields. The movement is fitted with an optimized blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed, patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.
Calibre 3230 is equipped with a self-winding module via a Perpetual rotor. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of this movement extends to approximately 70 hours.
Superlative Chronometer certified
Like all Rolex watches, the Deepsea Challenge is covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This exclusive designation testifies that every watch leaving the brand’s workshops has successfully undergone a series of tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories and according to its own criteria. These certification tests apply to the fully assembled watch, after casing the movement, guaranteeing superlative performance on the wrist in terms of precision, power reserve, waterproofness and self-winding. The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolized by the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee.
The precision of every movement – officially certified as a chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) – is tested a second time by Rolex after being cased, to ensure that it meets criteria that are far stricter than those of the official certification. The precision of a Rolex Superlative Chronometer is of the order of –2/+2 seconds per day – the rate deviation tolerated by the brand for a finished watch is significantly smaller than that accepted by COSC for official certification of the movement alone.
The Superlative Chronometer certification testing is carried out after casing using state-of-the-art equipment specially developed by Rolex and according to an exclusive control protocol that simulates the conditions in which a watch is actually worn and more closely represents real-life experience. The entirely automated series of tests also checks the waterproofness, the self-winding capacity and the power reserve of 100% of Rolex watches. These tests systematically complement the qualification testing during development and production, in order to ensure the watches’ reliability, robustness and resistance to magnetism and shocks.
An unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise
Rolex is an integrated and independent Swiss watch manufacture.
Headquartered in Geneva, the brand is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products – symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. The movements of its Oyster Perpetual and Cellini watches are certified by COSC, then tested in-house for their precision, performance and reliability. The Superlative Chronometer certification, symbolized by the green seal, confirms that each watch has successfully undergone tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories according to its own criteria. These are periodically validated by an independent external organization.
The word “Perpetual”
is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster watch. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, instilled a notion of perpetual excellence that would drive the company forward. This led Rolex to pioneer the development of the wristwatch and numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, invented in 1931. In the course of its history, Rolex has registered over 500 patents. At its four sites in Switzerland, the brand designs, develops and produces the majority of its watch components, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Furthermore, the brand is actively involved in supporting the arts and culture, sport and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.