Rolex Deep Sea Special 1960

3:52 PM

On the morning of January 23, 1960, the bathyscaphe Trieste descended to a depth of 10,916 meters with Jacques Piccard, son of Auguste Piccard, and US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh at the helm. The US Navy purchased the Trieste in 1958 and kept Jacques on as a consultant to help run and maintain the submersible.

Bathyscaphe Trieste, 1960 (photo: Rolex)
For the 1960 mission, the goal was to descend 11 kilometers down the Mariana Trench to collect data in one of the most inhospitable environments for life on the planet. Rolex strapped their latest experimental dive watch, the Deep Sea Special, to the outside of the Trieste for the voyage. The wristwatch withstood a pressure of one metric ton per square centimeter in the deepest depression on Earth.

"Happy to announce that your watch works as well at 11,000 meters as it does on the surface," wrote Jacques Piccard to Rolex headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland in a telegram sent on January 25, 1960.
photo of the first rolex deep sea special 1960
Rolex Deep Sea Special 1960 (photo: Rolex)
The Rolex Deep Sea Special photographed above is a mechanical wristwatch with a black dial, luminous pencil hands, a large domed crystal on a stainless steel oyster bracelet. There were several limited edition versions of this watch made for marketing purposes, and Rolex Passion Report did some research to try to figure out exactly which Deep Sea Special went down with the Trieste in 1960. 

It took Rolex years of research and testing to develop the technology that made the Deep Sea Special possible. The successful deep sea submersion of this wristwatch would be one of the last triumphs of Rolex ingenuity that Hans Wilsdorf would experience before his death in July of 1960.

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