Rolling in the Deep
The most extreme of Rolex’s tool watches takes no prisoners, says Leonard Richman
he first thing that you would notice when you strap on the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea is its incredible heft. The timepiece wraps snugly around the wrist with substantial weight, reminding you that it is no ordinary dive watch, but the most technically distinguished professional divers’ wristwatch that Rolex has ever made. But before you dismiss the above statement as hyperbole, consider the evolutionary path that the Rolex Deepsea has taken. One can, in fact, trace the origins of the Rolex Deepsea all the way back to the brand’s first waterproof wristwatch—then a world-first—from 1926. And in 1967, the helium escape valve (another world-first invention from Rolex), which helps decompress air pressure in a dive watch, effectively set the course for the brand to become a respected name in the field of dive instruments. Truth be told, features such as water resistance, builtin pressure regulators and unidirectional bezels have since become essential requirements for dive watches. But it is the superlative performance markers that the Rolex Deepsea has set for itself that leaves its peers in the dust. Take waterproofness for example. This beast can go down to 3,900m underwater and is tested with an additional allowance of 25 per cent more depth. The rating is phenomenal, especially when ISO 6425 standards require only 100m water-resistance for mechanical dive watch certification. To achieve this, Rolex engineered a case comprising the patented Ringlock System with a domed 5mm thick sapphire crystal and high-performance nitrogen-alloyed steel ring, among other features; the proprietary Triplock winding crown, which comes with a three-part sealing system to ensure optimum waterproofness; and the signature helium escape valve. In the hands of a lesser watchmaker, combining all of the above features would have resulted in a horological Frankenstein. But because this is Rolex, you can expect the Rolex Deepsea to be endowed with all of the gravitas of a tool watch, minus the awkward and obtrusive profile typically associated with such timepieces. This year’s Rolex Deepsea bears a strong resemblance to a commemorative edition from 2014, which was issued in tribute to the Deepsea Challenge. It was an expedition by film-maker James Cameron, which saw him pilot a submersible to the ocean’s deepest point in the Mariana Trench. The most distinctive feature on the new Rolex Deepsea is the D-blue dial with a deep blue to pitch black gradient first introduced in the 2014 model. There are also other minor but significant tweaks. The lugs and sides can now accommodate a wider Oyster bracelet— all designed to ensure a more comfortable fit, but also flaunt a sexier, sportier profile. We guess the Rolex Deepsea’s competitive streak extends even to the looks department—not that we are complaining.