Rolex Deepsea: Men’s All Time Favorite Diving Watch Collection
Men’s most expensive accessories are on their wrists. A watch is much more than just a way to keep track of the time for the elegant and fashionable gentleman; a well-chosen timepiece is an accent for one’s aesthetic, a subtle touch that lets those in the know remember you for the cultured and fashion-conscious gentleman that you are.
The iconic Rolex collection is one of the famous watches among all men. Each Rolex wristwatch for men is thus a unique expression of taste, identity, sportiness, class, and sophistication, all at the same time. Rolex’s name recognition alone is enough to keep luxury watches popular and even makes excellent timepieces!
The Rolex Deepsea remains a men’s all-time favorite collection to this day. If you’re curious why, which you shouldn’t be, read on to learn about the watch’s special features, how much it costs, and the men who wear it.
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Rolex Deepsea: Power and Performance
The Deepsea Rolex Watch was introduced in 2008 to meet the exacting demands of professional divers in terms of underwater pressure resistance, precision, and durability while retaining the aesthetic DNA, as a result, each Rolex Deepsea must pass the requisite waterproofness tests for divers’ watches. Rolex’s Superlative Chronometer certification, which was redefined in 2015, covers the Rolex Deepsea. This exclusive classification certifies that any watch that leaves
Rolex’s workshops have passed a series of tests performed by the company in its own laboratories and according to its own standards. The green seal that comes with every Rolex watch symbolizes the Superlative Chronometer status and is accompanied by an international five-year guarantee.
The Rolex Deepsea’s special features, it has a 44mm case and a Helium escape mechanism, making it extremely water-resistant and with the 3 piece Ringlock System and an extra thick 5mm sapphire crystal, the case uses a modern nearly indestructible nitrogen-alloy support ring set within the case. The dial’s outer ring reads “Original Gas Escape Valve” at the top and “Ring Lock System” at the bottom, with additional Fliplock extension links allowing the bracelet to be extended by an additional 26mm to fit even more comfortably over a heavy-duty diving suit.
Water resistance of 3900 meters (12800 feet). Rolex Deepsea models are Superlative Chronometers, which means they have an accuracy of -2 / +2 seconds every day and have passed both COSC and Rolex internal testing. The Rolex Deepsea is powered by Rolex’s calibre 3235, a self-winding mechanical movement designed and manufactured entirely in-house. It provides significant improvements in terms of precision, power reserve, shock and magnetic field resistance, convenience, and reliability.
The James Cameron Edition
The DEEPSEA takes its name from a 1960 expedition. In the same year, a crew led by oceanographer Jacques Piccard boarded the Trieste, a deep-sea vessel. They worked together to conduct the first manned exploration of the Mariana Trench, the world’s deepest known point on the ocean floor. An experimental Rolex model was attached to the hull of the Trieste. The watch eventually made it to the bottom of Challenger Deep, a depth of 10,916 meters.
Rolex created a special prototype model of its Deepsea watch for the project, called the Oyster Perpetual Date Sea-Dweller DEEPSEA CHALLENGE. It was designed to withstand water for 12,000 meters (39,370 feet) and was strapped to the vessel’s manipulator arm for the duration of the dive, eventually surviving in good condition.
James Cameron, a young Canadian boy, became fascinated with deep-sea exploration. He would go on to become one of Hollywood’s most famous directors, directing blockbusters such as Titanic and Avatar. Despite this, he never lost his love for the sea.
It was the year 2012, film director James Cameron piloted the Deepsea Challenger, a submersible vessel, to a depth of about 11,000 meters under the Pacific Ocean’s surface. Cameron charted the first solo descent to Challenger Deep through the Mariana Trench. He planned to pilot the Deepsea Challenger, a submersible he built himself. The mission was filmed for the film Deepsea Challenge 3D, and it was only the second manned dive to reach the deepest known point on Earth, Challenger Deep.
In 2014, Rolex introduced the Deepsea D-Blue Dial, a modified variant of the Reference 116660. Although it is otherwise similar to the original, it has a two-tone dial that fades from blue to black, and the word ‘Deepsea’ is written in green, the same color as James Cameron’s ship.
Rolex Deepsea Price
The Rolex Deepsea 126660 has a steel case and a 44mm sapphire crystal with a Blue dial, and it costs about $15,000 USD. Although the Rolex Deepsea 126660 D-Blue model is slightly more expensive.
On the other hand, the Rolex Deepsea 116660 has a steel case and a 44mm sapphire crystal with a Black dial, and it costs about $14,000 USD and the Rolex Deepsea 116660 D-Blue model is slightly more expensive, costing 15,000 USD above.
The Deepsea 116660 Royal Navy Clearance Diver model costs about $75,000 USD and has the same steel case, 44mm sapphire crystal, and dial as the 126660 and 116660, except the dial is Black Baton.
Many individuals recognize Rolex’s appeal, and the company’s level of engineering is undeniably impressive; wearing a Rolex watch is like wearing the company’s watchmaking heritage around your wrist. Rolex watches are not only common with watch collectors, but they also give the wearer an air of luxury and accomplishment.
It’s no surprise that everybody wishes to own a Rolex watch. Among dive watches, precise timekeeping is crucial. You’ll be pleased to learn that the Rolex Deepsea’s movement has been approved by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC), Switzerland’s official chronometer testing institute.
The Rolex Deepsea isn’t the kind of watch you’d wear to work every day. It’s a serious diving watch for those who admire compact works of engineering genius, and it exemplifies Rolex’s true potential. Any diver would find Deepsea to be the ideal companion.
These watches will go to great depths and endure a lot of pressure thanks to the helium escape valve and the ring lock mechanism. The Deepsea, like every other watch, has its own set of strengths and limitations, but it is still Men’s all-time favorite diving watch!
We’ve become so used to today’s sports watches that it’s easy to forget that watches are, by nature, highly fragile and exact instruments.
In the past, cushioning a watch against the ingress of dust and water usually meant using beeswax to seal the snapback cases ubiquitous in the pocket and early wristwatches. Still, it was a standard ritual for a man who washed his hands to remove his watch and set it aside safely before doing so, and rarely the vintage snapback watch doesn’t have at least a few dots of corrosion on the steel.
Improved water resistance
In 1926, water resistance in watches leaped forward when Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf patented the Oyster case, which features a screw-down crown and case back ubiquitous among diver’s eyes today. Like the Rolex name.
Magazine advertisement highlighting the waterproofing capabilities of the Oyster case
Despite the original Rolex Oyster, Wilsdorf’s intention in creating the patented case was not to make a diver’s watch per se. Nor was it the intention of another manufacturer, the luxury house of Cartier, to create a diver’s watch. However, it also made one of the world’s first genuinely waterproof watches, the 1931 Cartier Tank “Étanche” (waterproof) model.
The oft-repeated story that Cartier’s first waterproof watch was the “Pasha” and that the Pasha was inspired by the Pasha of Marrakech’s request for a waterproof watch to wear while swimming is just that: a history. At the time (the mid-1930s), according to brand historian Franco Cologni, the “Étanche” tank was Cartier’s only water-resistant watch: the Pasha didn’t debut until 1943.
The Tanka Vis, a 2001 reissue of the very rare Tank Etanchée (© George Cramer)
First diving watches
The jump from a water-resistant watch, which would defy splashes, to a diver’s watch, can probably be attributed to a company whose name implies the last word precisely: Omega. In 1932, Omega introduced the Omega Marine. It could be argued that the Marine is not a purpose-built diver’s watch in the modern sense, with no rotating bezel, no screw-down crown, and no case back. But it solved the problem of water resistance in a way that no other watch had managed to do. It had a rectangular box that slid into an outer tube, with a lever created an airtight seal between the two. The Marine also had a sapphire crystal, one of the first watches to do so. And it was tested to depths to which a watch had never been taken before: 73 meters in Lake Geneva.
The Marine was dived in the Pacific with pioneering oceanographer Charles William Beebe. She was used by Aqualung pioneer Yves Le Prieur, whose first Aqualung prototype was the standard for the French Army before adopting the Gagnan-Cousteau invention in the postwar years.
An iconic watch for Omega, and the immediate ancestor of the modern Seamaster 300 diver’s eyes, the Marine has even been reissued by Omega in recent years in a limited edition of 135 (as part of their Museum collection), in gold and stainless steel, and like the original, still water-resistant to 135 meters, or 450 feet.
Marine 1932, Omega’s reissue of the Marine watch in a limited edition of 135 pieces in 2007
A sad fact of life is that technology advances rapidly during the war. In this regard, World War II put diving technology on a rapid advance that led to the development of frogman units, underwater demolition teams, and mini-sub units that were essentially manned steerable torpedoes. For much of the war, if frogman units wore watches, they tended to be highly water-resistant watches. In addition, there were many so-called “canteen” watches made, among others, by the then US-based Hamilton Watch Company, which had screw-down crown caps, like the lid of a thermos bottle
But the unique diver’s watch destined to become, through a series of unexpected twists of fate, one of the most famous in the world, was made in just a few hundred models by an obscure Italian naval instrument maker: Panerai. The original Radiomir, named for the luminous material that gave a frogman a chance to read the dial-in murky water or during night operations, was prototyped in 1936; by 1938, it entered production.
Panerai Radiomir, circa 1942. (Image: Christie’s)
Postwar: Rolex Submariner and Blancpain “Fifty Fathoms”
In the postwar era, scuba diving became increasingly popular in the industry and among the general public. The trend produced the most bottomless diving ship ever carried by a human crew, the bathyscaphe Trieste. The Trieste was more like a hot air balloon than a conventional submarine. She was a spherical pressure hull, a bathysphere, suspended below a giant gasoline-filled float that gave her buoyancy. She took humans deeper than any submersible before: the bottom of Challenger Deep, one of the deepest places in the ocean, more than 10,000 meters deep.
The Trieste bathyscaphe in dry dock
The Trieste also has the distinction of being one of the few submersibles to carry a watch: a specially designed Rolex “Deep Sea” attached to its exterior. The “Deep Sea” is of questionable utility as a diver’s watch, with its massive case and half-hemisphere crystal. It’s just not meant to be worn, even given today’s appetite for oversized clocks. But as proof of the concept that a dive watch can be built to tolerate the worst that the deep ocean could throw at it, its usefulness is indisputable. She first dove with the Trieste in 1953, to 3,150 meters, but her greatest triumph was in 1960, when she accompanied the Trieste on her record-breaking dive into the abyss of Challenger Deep, to a depth of 10,916 meters!
The year after the first Rolex Deep Sea dived with the Trieste was when the Rolex Submariner debuted at Baselworld in 1954. In case of construction and other details, the Submariner was a great dive watch. – With its high-visibility hands, unidirectional timing bezel, flip-lock bracelet, and bracelet extension allow it to be easily resized to fit directly on the wrist or over the sleeve of a wetsuit.
Rolex Submariner Ref. 6205, circa 1954 (Image: Christie’s)
Another watch released at virtually the same time also remains an icon of the diver’s watch in its first modern form.
In 1952, Major Robert Maloubier of the French special forces combat swimming unit was tasked with designing a purpose-built diver’s watch that could operate at a depth of 50 fathoms, or 91.44 meters, later considered the safe limit of working depth for a diver breathing the average composition of compressed air.
While Rolex’s research and development teams had prototypes lined up by then, no commercially available watches fit Maloubier’s requirements, so the French official had to discuss it with Blancpain Rayville SA in Switzerland. To launch the design in France, Blancpain signed an agreement with Lip in 1953 to distribute the watch, which finally went on sale in 1954.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, circa 1953
Famously the watch officially called the “Fifty Fathoms” was worn by Jacques Cousteau in his Palme d’Or winning film, ‘The Silent World, in 1956. However, the fate of the Fifty Fathoms was more confused than that of the Submariner – Adopted by military units around the world, including US Navy SEAL teams, but never caught on in the civilian market to the extent of the Submariner.
Recently, it was revived by Blancpain, and now, with an in-house automatic movement, it has become one of the most beautiful diving watches in the world.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique in red gold
By the end of the 1940s, Panerai had produced a further evolution of the Radiomir watch with the lever-operated crown guard for the new model, named Luminor, after the luminescent material used in the dial as the Radiomir had been. And in 1954, Panerai manufactured 50 units for the Egyptian Navy that came to be remembered as some of the most collectible vintage Panerai models. Interestingly, even though these “Egyptian” Panerais used the Luminor-style case, the dial says “Radiomir” as the company’s naming system was based on the luminous material used. The Egyptian Navy had ordered the radioactive material from the old style.
Panerai diver’s watch with Luminor crown guard made for the Egyptian Navy, 1956 (Image: Christie’s)
The People’s Ocean: The Modern Age of the Diver’s Watch
The diver’s watch took on the classic form we know today in the 1950s. Diving grew from a sport played by a few hardy souls, many of whom were building their regulators out of aftermarket valve parts destined for other industrial uses, to a sport that, as equipment became cheaper, thousands and millions of people around the world enjoyed
The variety and number of diving watches began to grow: Tudor, Enicar, Eterna (with the classic Kon-Tiki model), Eberhard, and many other brands dedicated watches to divers. However, Favre-Leuba developed a true landmark: the famous and now almost impossible to find “Bathy 50”, the first diver’s watch with a working mechanical depth gauge, also sold as the “Bathy 160” with a dial calibrated in feet instead of meters, first sold in 1966.
At the same time, technical diving and industrial diving also broke new ground. A better understanding of the time it takes for the body to become saturated with breathing gases led to the increased use of saturation diving, both in US Navy experiments and in the corporate world, such as Westinghouse and the famous French firm Comex (Compagnie Maritime expertise). Their collaboration with Rolex led to the development of the first watch designed specifically for the world of saturation diving.
Saturation divers typically work in heliox rather than nitrox atmosphere, which can create problems for a dive watch as helium atoms are small enough to penetrate a dive watch’s seals and gaskets. The problem was that, during decompression, the built-up pressure could break crystals or altogether remove them from the eye. The solution to this was Rolex’s second iconic diving watch, the Sea-Dweller, launched in 1971.
Rolex Submariner with the helium escape valve developed with COMEX for saturation diving
Omega introduced its Seamaster 300 series of watches in 1957, which were instantly and enthusiastically accepted by the professional and amateur diving communities.
The list of Seamaster watches is long, but the lot’s favorite was the Seamaster 1000, which beats even Omega’s other great contender in the dive watch derby: the “proof,” a watch capable watch of diving 600 meters. The asymmetrical shape and a unique bright orange button lock the diving bezel.
The Seamaster 1000 is another few dive watches worn by both submarine and human divers. In 1973, the American firm International Underwater Contractors strapped an Omega Seamaster 1000 to a manipulator’s arm on their Beaver Mark IV submersible in deep water. They took it to a real-world testing depth of 1,000 meters.
Multiple tests confirmed the performance of the Seamaster 1000, which gazed out at the underwater world through its 5mm thick glass with calm aplomb.
Omega Seamaster 600 Ploprof
The Seamaster 1000 represents, in a way, the apotheosis of the practically designed diver’s watch. However, there were other notable examples: Jaeger-LeCoultre, with its line of excellent underwater alarm watches, and of course, the advent in the late 1990s 1960 of IWC’s professional line of diver’s eyes, especially the original Aquatimer. At the close of the 1960s, some of the most successful, robust, and affordable diving watches appeared: the Seiko diving automatics, worn by professionals and amateurs worldwide.
Seiko first enjoyed high technology in 1975, with the world’s first titanium production watch, the 600 meter Seiko Pro Diver, with a gasket system sophisticated enough to prevent helium from entering the eye. It featured a 51mm case, matching other specially designed saturation diver’s watches such as the Omega Seamaster 600 and 1000 and the Rolex Sea-Dweller.
Seiko Ref. 6159-7010, the company’s first watch designed for saturation diving, introduced in 1975
With the advent of the electronic dive computer, it might seem that the dive watch has become obsolete. And yet the diver’s watch has flourished.
Modern watches that take water and corrosion resistance to new heights and depths, such as the Sinn U1 crafted from submarine steel, or its contrasting, lightweight titanium counterpart (and water-resistant to 3,000 meters), the Breitling Aeromarine Avenger Seawolf, continue to give divers that extra edge they need in the delicate chess game of gases and pressures that ensures survival at depth.
And increasingly, it’s a game that has advanced beyond the fundamentals of staying alive to produce a golden crop of diver’s whirlwinds, minute repeaters, and other complications protected by sophisticated case and gasket systems that would do a player proud. Physical.