The Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea fully illustrates the innovative ability of Rolex. At its launch, this deep-sea divers’ watch, waterproof to a depth of 3,900 metres (12,800 feet), inaugurated the Ringlock system – a unique case architecture that allows it to withstand the pressure exerted at this extreme depth.

Released in 2008, the Rolex Deepsea meets the exacting requirements of professional divers in terms of resistance to underwater pressure, precision and reliability, while featuring the aesthetic DNA and intrinsic characteristics of the Professional watches in the Oyster Perpetual collection. It pushed back the technical limits that had existed for divers’ watches until then and is testimony to Rolex’s ongoing research into waterproofness.

The 44 mm Oyster case of the Rolex Deepsea is a paragon of robustness and reliability. The middle case is crafted from a solid block of Oystersteel. The Triplock winding crown, fitted with a triple waterproofness system and protected by an integral crown guard, screws down securely against the case, helping to ensure its complete watertightness.

The Rolex Deepsea benefits from the Ringlock system, a patented case architecture developed by Rolex that allows it to resist the colossal pressure exerted by water at the depth of 3,900 metres.

The Ringlock system is based on three superposed elements:
a thick, slightly domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating – on the Rolex Deepsea it is 5.5 mm thick;

a high-performance nitrogen-alloyed steel ring, positioned inside the middle case of the watch between the crystal and the case back, which withstands the water pressure;

a case back made from RLX titanium – which, on this watch, is held tight against the high-performance ring by a screw-down Oystersteel ring.

The Oyster case of the Rolex Deepsea is also equipped with the helium escape valve, patented in 1967. This safety valve works to protect Rolex divers’ watches created for great depths by allowing excess pressure built up inside the watch case to escape during a diver’s decompression phase in a hyperbaric chamber – a process inherent to saturation diving – without compromising the waterproofness of the watch.

In deep-sea diving, absolute reliability and security are of the essence. The waterproofness of every Rolex Deepsea watch is tested with a safety margin of 25 per cent, in accordance with the standard in effect for divers’ watches.

The Rolex Deepsea, guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 3,900 metres, is thus effectively subjected to the pressure exerted at 4,875 metres deep. For these stringent tests, Rolex developed a special hyperbaric tank in conjunction with COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises), the world-renowned French company specializing in underwater engineering and hyperbaric technologies. The crystal on the watch therefore withstands the equivalent of almost 4 tonnes in weight, the compression ring 4.5 tonnes, and the case back 5 tonnes.

The unidirectional rotatable bezel of the Rolex Deepsea is fitted with a 60-minute graduated monobloc Cerachrom insert in black ceramic that allows divers to monitor their time underwater. This patented insert is made of an extremely hard, virtually scratchproof ceramic whose colour is unaffected by ultraviolet rays. In addition, thanks to its chemical composition, the high-tech ceramic is inert and cannot corrode. The moulded, recessed numerals and graduations are coated with platinum using a PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) process. The bezel’s knurled edge offers excellent grip and can be manipulated with ease, even when wearing gloves.

In the underwater depths, being able to read the time with absolute certainty is a matter of survival. Great attention was paid to the legibility of this professional divers’ watch: the dial of the Rolex Deepsea features a pared-back design and incorporates the Chromalight display. The simple forms of the hour markers – triangles, circles and rectangles – and the hands, which are clearly differentiated in size and shape, are filled or coated with a luminescent material emitting a long-lasting blue glow – for up to two times longer than traditional phosphorescent materials. On the bezel, the triangular ‘zero’ marker of the graduation is visible in the dark thanks to an embedded capsule containing the same luminescent material.

Like all Rolex watches, the Rolex Deepsea is covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This exclusive designation attests that every watch leaving the brand’s workshops has successfully undergone a series of tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories and according to its own criteria. These certification tests apply to the fully assembled watch, after casing the movement, guaranteeing superlative performance on the wrist in terms of precision, power reserve, waterproofness and self-winding. The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolized by the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee.

The precision of every movement – officially certified as a chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) – is tested a second time by Rolex after being cased, to ensure that it meets criteria that are far stricter than those of the official certification. The precision of a Rolex Superlative Chronometer is of the order of −2/+2 seconds per day – the rate deviation tolerated by the brand for a finished watch is significantly smaller than that accepted by COSC for official certification of the movement alone.

The Superlative Chronometer certification testing is carried out after casing using state-of-the-art equipment specially developed by Rolex and according to an exclusive protocol that simulates the conditions in which a watch is actually worn and more closely represents real-life experience. The entirely automated series of tests also checks the waterproofness, the self-winding capacity and the power reserve of 100 per cent of Rolex watches. These tests systematically complement the qualification testing upstream during development and production, in order to ensure the watches’ reliability, robustness, and resistance to strong magnetic fields and to shocks.

The Rolex Deepsea is equipped with calibre 3235, a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. A consummate demonstration of technology, this movement carries a number of patents. It offers outstanding performance, particularly in terms of precision, power reserve, convenience and reliability.

Calibre 3235 incorporates the patented Chronergy escapement, made of nickel-phosphorus, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability and is also resistant to strong magnetic fields.

The movement is fitted with the blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy. In addition to resisting strong magnetic fields, this hairspring offers great stability in the face of temperature variations as well as high resistance to shocks. It is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position.

The oscillator of calibre 3235 has a large balance wheel with variable inertia regulated extremely precisely via gold Microstella nuts. It is held firmly in place by a height-adjustable traversing bridge enabling very stable positioning to increase shock resistance. The oscillator is also mounted on the Rolex-designed, patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, further enhancing the movement’s shock resistance. 

Calibre 3235 is equipped with a self-winding system via a Perpetual rotor, which ensures continuous winding of the mainspring by harnessing the movements of the wrist to provide constant energy. From 2023, its oscillating weight is fitted with an optimized ball bearing. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of this movement extends to approximately 70 hours.

The Rolex Deepsea’s movement will be seen only by certified Rolex watchmakers, yet it is beautifully finished and decorated in keeping with the brand’s uncompromising quality standards.

The Rolex Deepsea is fitted on the three-piece link Oyster bracelet. Equipped with an Oysterlock safety clasp, designed by Rolex and patented, which prevents accidental opening, this bracelet also features the Rolex Glidelock fine-adjustment system, developed by the brand and patented. This inventive toothed mechanism, located under the clasp cover, enables fine adjustment of the bracelet length, without tools. The Rolex Glidelock on the Oyster bracelet has 10 notches of approximately 2 mm each, allowing the bracelet length to be adjusted easily up to some 20 mm. The watch can therefore be worn over a diving suit up to 3 mm thick.

In 2012, the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea and its Ringlock system directly inspired the design of the Rolex Deepsea Challenge, an experimental divers’ watch guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 12,000 metres (39,370 feet). Entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex in only a few weeks, this watch is designed to resist the pressure found in the deepest reaches of the oceans.

On 26 March 2012, attached to the manipulator arm of the submersible, the Rolex Deepsea Challenge accompanied filmmaker and explorer James Cameron on his solo 10,908-metre (35,787-foot) dive to Challenger Deep, the ocean’s deepest point, located in the Mariana Trench. “The Rolex Deepsea Challenge was the reliable companion throughout the dive,” reported Cameron after the historic event.

In 2014, Rolex released a commemorative version of the Rolex Deepsea sporting a deep-blue to pitch-black gradient dial. This D-blue dial is reminiscent of the ocean’s twilight zone, where the last trickle of light from the surface disappears into the abyss. It echoes James Cameron’s DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition to the deepest point in the ocean, partnered by Rolex and the National Geographic Society. As a tribute to this partnership, the ‘DEEPSEA’ marking was added to the dial in a colour inspired by Cameron’s green submersible.


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