Director James Cameron’s Deepsea Voyage with Rolex
“The meaning behind these features on the commemorative watch will only be obvious to those who are familiar with the Deepsea Challenge and the history behind the watch”.
James Cameron is known as a legendary film-maker and sci-fi genius to many, but what
the majority don’t know about the highly talented visionary is of his relationship with
Rolex. In 2012 Cameron embarked on the ‘Deepsea Challenge’ in partnership with the
National Geographic Society and Rolex, a challenge which saw him travel to the deepest
point of the sea known to exist on earth, 35,787 feet (10.908km) below surface and suita-
bly named Challenger Deep. Now some of you may be wondering why would Rolex be
interested in such a voyage? The answer is: the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller.
Whilst Rolex has established a name for itself through it’s beautiful and timeless looking
watches, what has really helped the brand retain their status on the market over the years
and become a global household name is the quality of their watches. As we have discussed
in another article, Rolex have been testing their watches on athletes and sports stars for
decades, from the depths of the oceans to the bends of the race tracks. So it shouldn’t be a
surprise that when Rolex heard of Cameron’s mission they seized the amazing opportunity
to test the boundaries of their newest water-proof watch.
The said watch is the Deepsea Challenge concept and it’s just like the standard Rolex Deepsea
watch except for a few changes. Most notably, the Deepsea Challenge concept watch (pictured
below) is huge compared to the standard 116660 Deepsea; it is water resistant up to 12,000
meters whilst the standard is only water resistant up to 3,900 meters; and lastly the Deepsea
Challenge concept is much more limited given that only 5 or 6 of the watches were made and
are not for retail sale.
The hefty Deepsea Challenge was only produced to be tested in the deepest depths of the
ocean specifically for Cameron’s mission. For this reason the watch had an especially lengthy
bracelet made for it so it could be attached to a thick robotic arm on the submersible, which
offered the watch greater exposure to the sea. Inside the 7.3-metre green submersible
Cameron wore the standard Rolex Deepsea 116660 watch on his wrist.
Cameron emerged from the one-man voyage with the Deepsea Challenge concept watch
fine and fully functioning, and Rolex later released a statement saying the massive Deepsea
Challenge concept watch withstood 13.6 tonnes of pressure on the voyage. The success of
this mission added to the stream of victories Rolex have compiled over the decades from
testing their watches on athletes in the most strenuous conditions. This voyage earned
Rolex the number one spot in the world (again) for the most water resistant watch, as well
as making a Rolex watch the first watch to venture to the deepest point on earth.
To commemorate the mission Rolex made a very rare move that was particularly out of
character for their modern production standards: they released a watch in honor of James
Cameron (pictured below) for his significant role in the Deepsea Challenge voyage.
The said watch: the ‘Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller Deep Blue’, often nick-named the ‘James
Cameron’, is the same as the standard ‘Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller’ apart from a few
aesthetic differences. The features of the ‘James Cameron’ watch are meant to reflect
Cameron’s underwater voyage. For instance, unlike the ‘Deepsea Sea-Dweller’ and the
‘Sea-Dweller’ it has a gradient dial, which starts off blue at the top and turns black at
the bottom, an effect which is meant to imitate the hues of the sea that change from
blue to black as you voyage further towards the bottom where the light doesn’t reach.
Additionally, the word “DEEPSEA” is printed on the dial in green: a reference to the
Deepsea Challenger submersible Cameron travelled in which was green.
The meaning behind these features on the commemorative watch will only be obvious to those who are familiar with the Deepsea Challenge and the history behind the watch. Whereas those who don’t know will merely see the new aesthetic of the watch as another option created by Rolex.
The ‘James Cameron’ watch is made of Stainless Steel and is fitted to a Stainless Steel Oyster bracelet. It is the most advanced diving watch Rolex has made and also the biggest, with a case thickness of 17.7mm and a broadness of 44mm. The watch also has a 5mm sapphire crystal glass covering the dial as well as an exclusive Ringlock system. Both of these features help enforce the watch against pressure and strengthen it’s water resistance. In addition, the caseback is made of titanium.