The history of the Rolex Deepsea has an early beginning and stems back to the development of the first waterproof wristwatch in 1926, continuing to Mercedes Gleitze's world record attempt to swim the English Channel with a Rolex on her wrist in 1927 and the creation of the first proper diving watches called "Submariner" in 1953. Then finally, the Sea-Dweller was introduced in 1967. This robust diver's watch set new standards at the time by outperforming the Submariner, which was water-resistant up to 200 metres, by an additional 1,020 meters.
Even in 1953, when the first Submariner was released, Rolex was collaborating with the oceanographer Jacques Piccard on advancing the development of water-resistant wristwatches further. It was during this time that the name "Deep Sea" first appeared. However, only two cases passed the rigorous stress tests. When Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard dove to the deepest location in the seas, the Mariana Trench, inside the deep-sea submersible "Trieste" in 1960, they employed a prototype by Rolex for the expedition. Just as Gleitze was equipped with a Rolex Oyster for her world record attempt in 1927, they outfitted the Trieste with a model from the Swiss watchmaker as well: the Rolex Deep Sea Special. The prototypes of these watches had a distinctive and extremely thivk watch crystal that was attached to the outside of the vessel's hull. After the dive into "Challenger Deep" there was no evidence of damage on the watches, and Rolex had once again proven that the brand's timepieces can withstand any stress, no matter how extreme. The timepieces, which are so fragile at their core, withstood the pressure at a depth of 10,908 metres with ease thanks to the precision mechanics of the Rolex Caliber 1000 – a milestone in manufacturing history.
In 2008, the next step came when Rolex unveiled the Deepsea, an even more powerful production version of its diving watches. Water-resistant to a depth of 3,900 metres, the stainless steel colossus has a case diameter of 44 mm at a thickness of 17.8 mm. The reference 116660 features a helium valve for regulating pressure and echoes the sporty look of the models in the Rolex Professional series. But that would not be the end of the story, Rolex designed an even more impressive wristwatch to accompany James Cameron's expedition to the depths of the "Challenger Deep".
CASE DIAMETER: 44MM
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