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Watch Review - Feature Article

5 Things To Love About The Rolex Deepsea D-Blue

Some say it’s too big. Some don’t like the funky dial. I say, this might just be Rolex having the most fun it possibly can with the constraints of being the most consistent and reliable brand in the world.

This special edition was unveiled in 2014 to commemorate James Cameron's 2012 expedition into the Mariana Trench (no mean feat – we know very little about the depth of the sea comparatively to the land we live on). The D-Blue edition was an event in itself, as Rolex almost never create watches to commemorate occasions. The watch wasn't strictly limited in number, but it is certainly not one you see in the wild frequently.

So here are 5 things you need to be aware of when considering a purchase:

The Anniversary

Hollywood director James Cameron has returned to the surface after plunging nearly 11km (seven miles) down to the deepest place in the ocean, the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific back in 2012.  He made the solo descent in a submarine called Deepsea Challenger, taking over two hours to reach the bottom. He spent more than four hours exploring the ocean floor, before a speedy ascent back to the surface and his craft was kitted out with cameras so he could film the deep in 3D. Rolex just don’t produce watches to commemorate these types of things – this really is a one off. While the watch is identical to the original DeepSea, the adjustments we see here are significant. The blue dial, and the word "DEEPSEA" has been moved from 12 o'clock on the original to 6 o'clock here, and it is now bright green, the very same colour of Cameron's submersible.

The Dial

The gradient blue dial is just jaw dropping – flexing in different light – it’s simply the star of the show here.

The Performance

The Rolex Deepsea might just be the definition of a tool watch! With helium escape value and exclusive Ringlock system it has been designed to resist the massive pressure exerted by water at the depth of 3,900 metres (12,800 feet), equivalent to a weight of approximately 3 tonnes on the watch. Its construction is based on three elements: a nitrogen-alloyed steel central ring forms the backbone of the system, accompanied by a 5.5 mm-thick, domed sapphire crystal and a case back in grade 5 titanium.

The Lume

The first luminous material that Rolex used for its watches was radium. The problem with radium was that is was highly radioactive – not ideal. 

Following radium, Rolex started using tritium. Tritium is not as radioactive, however, it does lose its glow over time, as well as change color to creamy patina (which I love).  Rolex began using Luminova in 1998, and then shortly after, in 2000, they moved to a better and more refined version named SuperLuminova. Both were great – and still used by many brands to this day. That said, it wasn’t good enough for Rolex – it launched Chromalight in 2008 on the Deepsea Sea-Dweller – the old cousin of the D-Blue we have here.

Chromalight is a photoluminescent material that, according to Rolex, lasts up to eight hours, which is more than double the time of other luminescent materials. And I have to say - chromalight lume is bright – like really damn bright. To put it into perspective, you can step outside into natural light for 15/20 mins and walk back in, to lower light and you could light your path with how strong the blue glow is! Check out this pic here. That said, if you were going to take this beast down to 12,000 feet – things get dark! You’ll need every drop that lume.

The Price

While that might seem mad – we are after all talking about a steel Rolex for just over 13k. The reason it’s not, is that we have seen a continued restriction from Rolex at AD’s. We have seen a drive to pick up those Rolex references with a twist, an anniversary link – (think Kermit). Rolex in the collecting circles is all about minor details – the stuff most won’t notice, but here we have something that’s kind of “unRolex”. A large, graduated blue dial watch commemorating an historic achievement. That’s something we think is set to only become more interesting down the line.

Shop the Rolex Sea-Dweller Deep Sea James Cameron Watch here.