Making of the Rolex Deepsea Challenge with James Cameron


After 7 years of research James Cameron was about to visit the deepest part of the world’s oceans in the Pacific. He wanted to visit the Marina Trench and come back to tell his story.

James Cameron needed a state of the art deepsea diving watch that could do it’s job under 36,000 feet of water and serious amounts of pressure. Who could deliver such a feat? Who could create such a thing? One company stepped forward : ROLEX.

Could Rolex deliver a watch to withstand the crushing pressure at 36,000 feet?

The deepsea challenge watch by Rolex was put together in only 5 weeks. From concept to Cad and then to being hand built and produced can only be seen as a phenomenon in the watch world.

The Rolex engineers decided to use the architecture of the commercial Rolex Deepsea. The original Ringlock system was guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 12,000 metres (39,370 feet). After many hours of research and design the creation boasted features that any watch maker would marvel in.

The Helium Escape Valve
This feature allows the watch to decompress automatically with the aid of a spring and an escape valve. If the pressure between the inside and the outside of the watch reaches between 3 and 5 bars, the helium can escape keeping the internal crystal and parts intact. If the helium inside the watch could not escape, the watch would decompress and explode. Helium gas was used because it is very light and less dangerous.

The Ringlock System
The Ringlock system was designed and built with strength in mind. The watch needs to with stand tones of pressure. The Ringlock system is engineered using three elements: a nitrogen-alloyed steel central ring forms the backbone of the system, accompanied by a 5 mm‑thick, domed sapphire crystal and a case back in grade 5 titanium.


The Glidelock Extension System
The watch bracelet needs to be adjustable to fit on the wrist with or without a wet suit on. The Rolex deepsea has a unique glidelock system that allows the user to adjust the length of the strap without too much effort.

The Titanium Case Back
Used for it’s strength and engineered to work with the Ringlock system. Once the pressure starts to push down on the watch case, it begins to tighten up the Ringlock system. Thus keeping the watch tight and safe under the desired depths.

The Cool Blue Luminescence Face
The face of the watch glows blue in poor light conditions, giving the diver perfect visibility while looking at the information displayed.

You can watch James Cameron’s Historical dive below.

Credits with thanks
National Geographic:

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