IN DEEP

In turn­ing 50, the Rolex Sea-Dweller proves its metal

#Legend - - KNOW YOUR LEGENDS -

OF ALL THE dive watches cre­ated, there is one that holds the heavy­weight ti­tle. This year marks the 50th an­niver­sary of a Rolex icon, the Sea-Dweller. At the time of its de­vel­op­ment in 1967, the watch had gone deeper – lit­er­ally – than anything else on the mar­ket.

Largely in re­sponse to the in­creas­ing need for gaso­line, com­pa­nies be­gan div­ing deeper be­low the ocean’s sur­face than ever be­fore. French com­mer­cial div­ing firm, COMEX, ap­proached Rolex in the 1960s to help solve a unique prob­lem they were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dur­ing deep sat­u­ra­tion dives.

The crys­tals of their watches were blow­ing off upon re­turn­ing to the sur­face at the end of their time on the ocean’s seabeds. Helium atoms were pass­ing through the watch crys­tal and col­lect­ing in the space be­tween the crys­tal and dial. Dur­ing de­com­pres­sion, the helium would slowly build in pres­sure un­til the watch crys­tal lit­er­ally blew off.

A new dive watch was needed and Rolex re­sponded with the Sea-Dweller. Rolex en­gi­neers de­vel­oped a gas es­cape valve fit­ted with a spring. When opened, the dif­fer­ence in pres­sure be­tween the in­side and out­side of the watch reached three to five bars, al­low­ing the helium to es­cape and the watch to re­main in­tact.

To­day, the Sea-Dweller still serves as the go-to watch for sat­u­ra­tion divers as it is wa­ter­proof up to a depth of 1.2 kilo­me­tres. The lat­est gen­er­a­tion of the Oys­ter Per­pet­ual Sea-Dweller fea­tures a 43mm case and the new cal­iber 3235, en­sur­ing the watch re­mains at the fore­front of technology.

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