Rolex Deepsea Challenge 2012

May 11, 2016

In 2012, filmaker and explorer James Cameron descended into the deepest part of the sea to explore the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the Mariana Trench. As they did in past explorations of the trench, Rolex created an experimental watch to accompany the explorer into the depths for the DEEPSEA Challenge.

James Cameron on the Deepsea Challenger (photo: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic)
The watchmaker committed to the project only a few weeks before the descent, giving them a small window to design and create an experimental dive watch to send down with the Deepsea Challenger. What resulted was an experimental dive watch called the Rolex Deepsea Challenge. Its case measures 51.4 mm in diameter, 28.5 mm thick with a 14.3 mm crystal. You can see the watch in the photo above attached to one of the arms of the vessel at the top right corner.

Photo of Rolex Deepsea Challenge Experimental Watch (photo: Rolex)
Rolex Deepsea Challenge Experimental Watch (photo: Rolex)

The results of this descent proved fruitful for both earth scientists and the engineers that designed the Rolex experimental watch. As expected, the watch survived the crushing pressure of the Challenger Deep, giving Rolex even more bragging rights than before for their dive watches. In terms of earth science, the exploration gave the science community a new understanding of plate tectonics and the actual origin of this trench, which is deeper than the height of Mount Everest. 

“I felt like, literally in the space of one day, I had gone to another planet and come back,”  James Cameron said upon his return to sea level. The video below gives a brief overview of Cameron's experience.

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