100% Certified Authentic
Watch Review

12,800 Feet Under the Sea

Paul Altieri

Commemorating a historic expedition with the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue

In 2012, famed Hollywood director and enthusiastic explorer, James Cameron embarked on a historic solo dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The Deepsea Challenge expedition witnessed Cameron take the Deepsea Challenger submersible to 35,787 feet to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest point among the earth’s oceans. Also descending on the journey was the experimental Rolex Deepsea Challenge divers’ watch – a 51.4mm beast able to withstand 13.6 tons of load resistance and waterproof to a depth of 39,370 feet – strapped onto the vessels’ robotic manipulator arm.

Rolex Deepsea d-blue dial
Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue has a gradient of blue to black.

To honor this momentous moment, Rolex unveiled the special dial edition to their Deepsea Sea-Dweller collection (D-Blue) of super diving watches in 2014. With an incredible water resistance depth of 12,800 feet, the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller is the very definition of a Rolex professional tool watch, built with the extreme deep-sea diver in mind. The blue to black gradient dial poetically represents the color of the water as one plunges deeper into the ocean, while the color of the “DEEPSEA” label on the dial echoes that of the Deepsea Challenger vessel.

Rolex Deepsea Ref 116660 inspired from James Cameron
Rolex Deepsea D Blue Dial ref. 116660 is a very thick watch intended to last for hours under immense pressure.

Aside from the dial, the specs of the Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue remain the same as the other versions within the collection. Notably, the watch is equipped with the Ringlock system, built on three components – a nitrogen-alloyed steel central ring, a 5 mm‑thick domed sapphire crystal, and a caseback manufactured in grade 5 titanium. This, along with the Triplock screw-down winding crown and legendary helium escape valve outfitted on the 904L stainless steel 44mm Oyster case, ensure that the Sea-Dweller can endure even the most epic of underwater voyages.

Similar to a diver, a timekeeping instrument exposed to helium and other gases while descending to extreme depths must decompress prior to resurfacing to land to avoid damage to the watch. To address this, Rolex introduced the proprietary Helium Escape Valve to allow the gas to escape from the watch, without compromising its waterproofness. The groundbreaking mechanism, patented by Rolex in 1967, activates when the watch reaches a certain level of internal pressure, thus keeping the watch safe from exploding from the pressure.

Rolex Deepsea d-blue dial
Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue comes with a HEV (helium escape valve) to help equalize the pressure.

Topping off the case of the Deepsea is the iconic Rolex Cerachrom diver bezel. For divers to safely keep track of their immersion and decompression periods, the single direction rotatable bezel features a fade and scratch resistant ceramic insert in black with 60-minute graduations coated in platinum.

The 904L stainless steel Oyster bracelet is naturally outfitted with the Rolex Glidelock system, meaning the bracelet can extend up to 20mm so that the Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue can easily be worn and adjusted around one’s diving suit. For optimal legibility, even within the darkest depths of subaquatic environments, the D-Blue dial boasts the Chromalight display that emits a blue glow that can last up to eight hours.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller
Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue has a special bracelet that allows you to adjust the size when diving.

Among other innovations, Rolex is well known for creating the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, so it’s only befitting that the brand would carry on the legacy by producing superlative diving watches to support the human race’s exploration of the deep.

Timeless Style Delivered To Your Inbox

Subscribe today to receive email updates on our timepieces.

TIMELESS STYLE Delivered To Your Inbox

Subscribe today to receive email updates on our timepieces.

Paul Altieri