Rolex describes its new launch, the Deepsea Challenge, as “a watch that defies the limits.” That means the limits of depth and atmospheric stress along with engineering, since the Deepsea Challenge is designed to have the ability to operate as much as 11,000 meters—virtually 7 miles—underwater. But you’d be forgiven for concluding it means the depths of logic additionally. Rolex already affords a watch rated to three,900 meters (the $12,950 Deepsea Sea-Dweller), which vastly outstrips the prospects for human survival (the deepest-ever ocean outing for a saturation diver, in 1988, bottomed out at 534 meters). What, then, could possibly be the rationale for nearly tripling a functionality that may solely ever be skilled in concept, necessitating a watch so large that it pushes one other restrict—that of wearability?
The reply Rolex might moderately give is: as a result of it may well. But additionally, as a result of it needed to. The Deepsea Challenge is the pinnacle piece in a succession of ultra-deep watches that started in 1960, when the firm despatched an experimental watch, the Deep Sea Special, connected to the Trieste bathyscaphe on its epochal descent to the backside of the deepest place on Earth, the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, reaching a depth of 10,911 meters (the watch, sporting an enormous, bulb-shaped dome of glass above its dial, carried out completely).
In 2012, the filmmaker James Cameron made his personal dive to the backside of the trench in the Deepsea Challenger submersible, with one other, quite extra fashionable, experimental Rolex connected outdoors. In one sense, the new watch could possibly be seen as a slice of unfinished Rolex enterprise: Based on the watch that plumbed the depths with Cameron, it lastly makes commercially out there what was for six a long time purely experimental. As an expression of engineering competency, that actually can’t be overwhelmed.
For some time, although, it appeared as if it had been. Even if it invented the idea, Rolex is hardly alone in making barely fathomable depth capabilities of watches the final technical flex. While a raft of manufacturers provide watches with a ranking of 1,000 meters or extra, battle was actually joined by Omega in 2019 when it despatched its personal experimental Seamaster watch to the backside of the Mariana Trench, affixed to the submersible of adventurer Victor Vescovo. Not solely did this give Omega victory in having the deepest-traveled watch—reaching 10,916 meters, pipping Cameron (10,908 meters) by 8 meters—however Omega developed a commercially out there mannequin, too. The Seamaster Ultra Deep Pro, priced at £10,350 (round $11,883), arrived earlier this 12 months, however with a depth ranking of 6,000 meters—an achievement that Rolex has now trumped by virtually double.