November 2, 2022    |    

Go Deep…er?

Rolex and James Cameron present the Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge

Go deeper, go lighter. Filmmaker James Cameron and Rolex just launched the deepest deep sea challenger yet that you can actually buy. It is a publicly available homage to an astounding piece that made history over a decade ago.

James Cameron, an Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge on his wrist, posing with a model of the bathyscaphe Trieste (right), his submersible DEEPSEA CHALLENGER (centre) and (left) the two experimental watches attached to the vehicles during the dives into the Mariana Trench – respectively, the Deep Sea Special (behind) and the Rolex Deepsea Challenge (in front).
Foreground, left to right: Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea (2008), Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge (2022), Deep Sea Special (1960), Rolex Deepsea Challenge (2012) and Oyster Perpetual Submariner (1986). Background, left to right: models of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible and the bathyscaphe Trieste.

In March of 2012, James Cameron took his deep deep dive (10,908 meters or 35,787 feet) into the Marianas Trench. With him was a prototype Rolex strapped onto the arm of the submersible used for the descent. The new watch is meant not to be just mounted onto a robot appendage, but onto yours.

The watch is powered by the Calibre 3230 Movement introduced in 2020, which uses a thinner-walled barrel allowing longer springs that help produce the 70 hour power reserve, along with the Chronergy escapement that provides efficiency as well as robustness and dependability.


The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge is a 50mm watch made of tough yet lightweight RLX Titanium, so while rather large it can be worn on the wrist if you are committed enough. The new watch is actually 30% lighter than the original prototype, which makes sense given that, one, Rolex is always developing and two, it is sold to a public that should really wear it. Not just plain titanium though, the case and bracelet have a nice grain to their satin finish, and some top edges have been chamfered and polished so the curved profile is well defined.


It is a fully technical dive watch, with all the details to go deep. It uses a helium escape valve to help manage decompression when ascending and gasses act differently, and the Ringlock system and Triplock Crown to keep the water out. If you so desire to go diving with it, the Glidelock and Fliplock extension systems on the also-titanium bracelet allow use of the watch with thick wetsuits.


The watch is both groundbreaking and familiar. Low light will bring out the unique Chromalight luminescence, and the bezel is of course unidirectional so that it will not show more time rather than less if it accidentally gets bumped during a dive.

Where does this watch fit into the world of Rolex Divers? At the technical top. It will most likely appeal to collectors and enthusiasts more than something for daily use. Perhaps someone with their own submersible will replicate the James Cameron dive (though not as deep) for Instagram. While the watch is fully rated and warrantied for technical work, it will most likely be a reward for hard work itself.


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