Rolling in the Deep

The most ex­treme of Rolex’s tool watches takes no pris­on­ers, says Leonard Rich­man

Singapore Tatler - - STYLE -

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.

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