Well, it’s not shy, is it?
50mm size, 23mm height, 9.5mm thick crystal and waterproof to 11 kilometres, and before you ask - yes, you can shower in it.
Fortunately in order to prevent accidental drowning by wearing a ton of steel on the wrist, this is Rolex' first commercially available (grade 5) titanium watch, which reduces the weight of the beast to a mere quarter of a kilogram.
I think its safe to say that this was never designed to be a daily wearer, its an absolute flex of Rolex waterproofing prowess and I love them for it. Its bonkers, but its going to take some beating.
A watch like this deserves a bit of back-story, so lets do that first.
The Deepsea Challenge is the latest in a pretty long line of watches from the brand dedicated to conquering the deep sea.
The “Deep Sea Special” which was one of a handful of same named experimental Rolex deep divers under the same name made its way down the Mariana Trench in 1960 while strapped to the exterior of the Bathyscaphe Trieste which was piloted by Jacques and Auguste Picard.
The Trieste and Deep Sea Special number 3 are both on display at the Smithsonian Institute, such is their historical significance.
In 2012 James Cameron broke another record by taking his manned submersible, the Deepsea Challenger 10,908 metres down the into the Challenger Deep, the lowest point of the Mariana Trench, well, almost the lowest, which I’ll get to in a minute.
Strapped to his wrist a black 116660 “Sea-Dweller DeepSea”, and strapped to the outside of his submersible? Yep. Another experimental Rolex, one that would become the starting point for this piece right here, the Deepsea Challenge.
Here’s where it gets a little entertaining for spectators, particularly watch nerdy ones like myself..
While Rolex were quite happily sunning themselves safe in the knowledge that they were the kings of deep dive watches, an adventurer by the name of Victor Vescovo was completing his “Five Deeps” expedition with rather less fanfare.
The expedition took Victor to the deepest parts of the worlds five oceans.
In May 2019, he successfully piloted his deep submergence vehicle “Limiting Factor” to the bottom of Challenger Deep within the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.
More to the point, he went 20 metres deeper than James Cameron, and the Picards, and to add insult to injury had a prototype OMEGA Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional strapped to the arm of his submersible, subjecting it to 10,928 metres of real world pressure testing, and making it the new kid on the block who just spanked the Rolex depth records.
This experimental piece was modified to make wearable, and its descendant the Planet Ocean Ultra Deep is now available for purchase from Omega, with a depth rating of 6000 metres, which at the time bested Rolexes current offering, the DeepSea with its resistance of 3,900m.
Clearly, CLEARLY, in the name of good old fashioned tit-for-tat submersible waving, Rolex wasn’t going to let this stand for long.
So, in September 2022, far away from the Basel fanfare, the Rolex Deepsea Challenge quietly made its way onto the Rolex website with resistance of ELEVEN THOUSAND METRES.
If that isn’t petulant brilliance then I dont know what is..
Onto the watch itself, its just a massive feat of over engineering.
This is the first available titanium watch made by Rolex. They have previously made a Ti Yachtmaster for sailor Ben Ainslie which at the time prompted that perhaps titanium was making its way through Rolexes foundry, but im not sure anyone expected THIS.
Its also the first Sea-Dweller to be presented without a date, which does make for some very nice dial symmetry.
On the caseback, Rolex is making sure that you know about its achievements with the inscription Mariana Trench and the dates “23-01-1960” and “26-03-2012” which mark the Trieste and Cameron dives, a nice touch.
The head is balanced by the bracelet which has a lug width of 23mm, wide enough to keep the whole thing on the wrist without spinning.
Id say its wearable, particularly for those with larger wrists who are used to chunky monkey watches like the 47mm Panerai for example. But I think in order to appreciate it, you have to find joy in the tech, the testing, and indeed the history that has gone into this piece rather than its versatility as a daily piece.
It will sit brilliantly within a wider collection and is a definite talking and focus point for those into watches, but lets face it, its not practical. Too many door frames to knock on and not enough water in the bath tub to merit something so extreme.
Whether I’d wear it or not, I’m glad it exists and Im excited to see where Rolex go with their newfound use of titanium.