James Cameron isn’t sure if he’s a filmmaker, or an explorer. But, it’s safe to say he’s succeeded in both of these professions. As a child he grew up at a time in which NASA was launching ships into outer space and Jacques Cousteau was demystifying the oceans currents and wildlife, inspiring the imagination of future explorers.
The “Challenger Deep” is the deepest known point in the Earth’s seabed hydrosphere, located in the Pacific Ocean, near the Mariana Islands. It is a depression at the bottom of the oceanic trench, which are topographic descents of the ocean floor. The British Royal Navy survey ship: HMS Challenger, made the first recordings of this location, during the 1872-1876 expeditions. This oceanic depression gained its name from the British ship, which engaged in these endeavours.
The dream of exploring the sea has been on James Cameron’s mind since his childhood. The filming of movie projects such as: The Abyss (1989) and Titanic (1997) gave him the opportunity to combine his two passions: filming & the sea. Much like his hero Jacques Cousteau who directed over 120 television documentaries. Although Cameron’s films are in the land of fiction, the locations he used in these movies are all in the realm of reality.
The “Deepsea Challenge 3D” is a film that documents Cameron’s descent to the deepest known point in the Earth’s seabed hydrosphere, with a depth of 10,898 to 10,916 meter (35,755 to 35,814 feet) nearly 7 miles. An endeavour such as this requires a team compounded by some of the finest minds in academia and the expertise of their respective field, with National Geographic’s participation. As well as a watch that could tell time at such a depth, introducing the new: Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller with D-Blue Dial 116660 watch.
Rolex has a long history of creating waterproof watches and pushing the boundaries of water resistance. Starting off with the “Rolex Oyster” in 1926 and following up with “Rolex Submariner”, one of the most recognizable diver’s watch, 30 years later. The Rolex brand reached the absolute extreme by the 1960’s, when it’s wristwatch “Rolex Deep Sea Special” made it to the deepest point on Earth, 10,900 meters below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, aboard a 150 ton submersible called, the Trieste.
As a revival of the 1960 mission, a Rolex once again was on-board to be part of history and push the limits further for future expeditions and explorers. The “Rolex Deepsea Challenge”, is a 51.4mm wide version and had to sacrifice wearability in order to deliver such a high pressure performance. Being made to withstand the crushing pressure of 1,100 atmospheres and withstand up to 12,000 metres (39,370 feet) of water resistance which James Cameron endured on the Deepsea Challenger’s descent. The new more wearable and commercial version was designated the: “Rolex Deepsea D-Blue” dial watch for 2014 and stands as a tribute to the 2012 record-breaking mission.
So, the original “Deepsea Challenge” watch that actually plunged to the depths of the ocean was a super-sized never commercially produced version of the current 3,900 meter (12,800 feet) water resistant “Rolex Deepsea D-Blue”. And as the chart above exemplifies, the 44mm diameter and 17.7mm thickness seems quite small when compared to the huge “Deepsea Challenge” and it’s 51.4mm wide and 28.5 thick case, designed to withstand nearly 13.6 tons per square inch of pressure.
This new version of the Rolex Deepsea owes its exceptional strength, waterproofness and pressure resistance to its exclusive ringlock system, capable of tolerating up to 3 tonnes of strain. The watch face is protected by a dense, 5mm dome-shaped sapphire crystal made of high-purity aluminium oxide. A nitrogen-alloyed stainless steel compression ring positioned behind, inside the watch case around the movement, provides support for the crystal.
The waterproof oyster case is made of a corrosion-resistant grade of steel, designated: 904L, highly valued in the chemical and aerospace industry. It also comes equipped with a helium escape valve, patented by Rolex in 1967. This safety valve acts as a miniature decompression chamber for the watch, which is essential for deep-sea saturation diving. During decompression phases, the helium valve automatically regulates the excess pressure trapped inside the watch case without compromising the waterproofness of the watch. While the grade 5 titanium case back, screwed down in a 904L stainless steel ring, possesses a flexibility that allows the water pressure to strengthen the hermetic seal of the case as depth increases, by forcing the components tighter together.
Divers can safely monitor their time under water and their decompression stops, thru the use of a unidirectional rotatable bezel, fitted with a 60 minute graduated black Cerachrom insert, made of corrosion-resistant ceramic. The numeral and graduations engraved in the ceramic and coated with platinum using a PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) is a process patented by Rolex, which renders the Rolex Deepsea virtually scratchproof and guarantees its colors will never fade. The bezel’s knurled edge offers excellent grip, even with diving gloves.
The bracelet is equipped with an Oysterlock safety that prevents accidental opening. And with its double extension system the watch can be comfortably worn over a 7mm thick diving suit. The fliplock extension link extends the bracelet by 26mm, while the Rolex Glidelock system allows fine adjustments of the bracelet length in 2mm increments for a total of approximately 20mm.
This new version of Rolex Deepsea also designed a dial to highlight the journey its prototype partook. Starting off with a deep blue at 12 o’clock descending to a pitch-black gradient dial at the 6 o’clock position, evoking the oceans twilight zone where the last rays of light flicker and wither away into the abyss. As a tribute to James Cameron’s deepest descent into the ocean, the dial’s “Deepsea” marking is in green as a homage to the submarine which undertook the mission.
Its Rolex’s pioneering spirit that allowed James Cameron to carry a watch and stay on time, on his latest adventure to the bottom of the sea. That was recorded for a new film, which much like his childhood hero Jacques Costeau, has served to reveal more invaluable information about the diverse forms of sea-life flora and fauna to the scientific community.
“Deepsea Challenge 3D” the movie premiered on: August 8th 2014
“Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue”, ref# 116660 was announced on: August 4th 2014
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