Rolex Deep Sea Special Prototype
Watch Company can design the best looking watch cases,
have perfect ingenious movements, have dials that are
pleasing to the eye, but all this is meaningless if
they cannot bring the product to The Market Place effectively.
were Masters at Marketing. Perhaps the most notable
marketing event in Rolex history belongs to the Rolex
Deep Sea Special, a huge – 57mm by 40mm by 39mm
- Submarine-derived watch.
took their cue from the World of Formla 1 Motor Racing,
and understood that a Prototype Dive Watch had to be
developed that would need to:-
survive some of the harshest Deep Sea conditions know
achieve a World Dive Record and still be waterproof
be linked with an Historic Achievement
resulting in World Wide Pubilicity.
up with the Piccard Family was the perfect long term
the early 1920s, Rolex had worked on the development
of waterproof watches, the famous Oyster models. To
put their Prototype Rolex Deep Sea Special on a trial
on which no other watch had ever been, they contacted
Professor Piccard to test watches during his diving
experiments. Piccard accepted and Rolex engineers developed
a watch fitted with a special case and a domed crystal
in order to hold up to extreme pressure. Because of
the tremendous pressure, the depth a diver can reach
without special equipment is very limited; the deepest
recorded dive by a skin diver is 127 meters (417 ft).
To explore even greater depths, deep-sea explorers are
forced to use specially constructed steel chambers to
protect them. The Deep Sea Special was designed focusing
on the same guidelines as a Bathyscaphe, in other words
it was a specially pressurised constructed steel chambers
to protect the movement and dial.
to Rolex Geneva Archives, a small series of Deep Sea
Special Watches were developed and participated in Piccards
Bathyscaphe Dives in 1950, 1953 and 1960.
initial MKI Deep Sea Special trials in 1950 were not
successful, and Prototypes did not survive. The first
prototypes of this watch were produced with meticulous
care. The cases were turned by hand, a special glass
was created and a new winding crown was cut and fitted.
These prototypes were then tested, but after a short
time they filled with water.
on these initial trials, location of trials, and exact
results and reasons of failure, are understandably unavialble.
Rolex Geneva would like to focus on successes rather
than failures. At this time The Rolex Submariner ref
6200 had its launch postponed due to the failures of
the Rolex MKI Deep Sea Special.
to the drawing board, Rolex engineers toughened and
redesigned the case, and after three years of secret
pre-trials, the Rolex MKII Deep Sea Special was ready.
adjustments were then made to the second series of test
watches and these were subjected to a pressure of 6000
lbs per square inch. This batch of watches lasted longer
under the test conditions.
resistance was successfully tested at the ETH in Zurich
and on 30 September 1953, the Bathyscaphe Trieste and
the watch fixed to its outside made their first dive
to a record depth of 3150 meter. During this dive in
the Tyrrhenian Sea off the island of Ponza, both Auguste
and Jacques Piccard were on board of the bathyscaph.
On 12th October Rolex received Piccard's memorable telegram
confirming the success of the experiment with the words
"Your watch perfectly resisted to 3150 meters".
the marketing arm of Rolex Geneva went into top gear
and The Rolex Submariner ref 6204 was introduced at
the1954 Basel Spring Fair. The Rolex Submariner, introduced
in the early 50s, laid down the tracks upon whcih
most of their competitors would follow. From the rotating
bezel, (used to gauge air-time when submersed), to the
flip lock clasp and extension link (to wear outside
a wetsuit with the minimum of fuss) - all Rolex innovations.
Rolex Submariner ref 6204 with its small crown and depth
level of 100m was a more commercial model, and for these
reasons alone the introduction of the "Big Crown"
Rolex Submariner ref 6200 depth level of 200m was held
back a few months.
invented the business model for future generations.
He who is first to the market place with a new product,
wins. It is unimportant at that stage if the product
has design faults or it does not live up to the guarantees
made because these could be dealt with the introduction
of a new and improved product. Remember Microsoft and
1958, the Trieste was acquired by the U.S. Navy and
equipped with a new cabin to enable it to reach deep
ocean trenches. Two years later, in 1960, Jacques Piccard
and Navy Lieutenant Donald Walsh descended in the Trieste
to the deepest known point on Earth - the Challenger
Deep in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The
two men made the deepest dive in history: 10,915 meters
(35,810 ft), again with a "Deep Sea Special"
fixed to the outside of the bathyscaph. The watch hold
up to a pressure of 1,150 atm or 1,150 kgs per cm2.
The following day Piccard sent another telegram to Rolex
in Geneva saying "Am happy to confirm that even
at 11,000 meters your watch is as precise as on the
surface. Best regards, Jacques Piccard".
As a newspaper of the time wrote
means that the Rolex Oyster has been to the highest,
in reference to the Explorer equipped Everest expedition
of 1953, and lowest points of the world surface’.
An extraordinary and rare, historically
interesting stainless steel, gold and
gilt tonneau-shaped self-winding waterproof
diver's wristwatch with sweep centre seconds
Signed Rolex, Deep Sea Special No. 1,
movement no. 419251, manufactured in 1953
Cal. 1000 nickel-finished lever movement,
21 jewels, the black dial with luminous
dot, baton and triangular-shaped numerals,
luminous spear hands and luminous arrow
sweep centre seconds hand, in massive
stainless steel case with deep domed crystal,
special screw down winding crown, heavy
gauge screw back engraved Rolex Oyster
Deep Sea Special No. 1, the gilt metal
terminals secured by steel pins, stainless
steel steel and gold sprung and riveted
Rolex Oyster bracelet with deployant clasp
dated 4/53, case, dial and movement signed
43 mm. diam.
extra-ordinary prototype Rolex Deep Sea Special first
concieved around 1950, has its character and influence
stamped on every reference Rolex Submainer to the present
date and will have for the forseable future. From the
Big Crown Rolex Submariner, to the Rolex Seadweller,
to the Rolex Military Submariner, to the present day
Rolex 50th Annaversary issue Submariner.
features such as case back engravings and thick cases
on the Rolex Sea-Dwellers, Maxi dials on the military
and Annaversary Submariners. Also Big Crown winders,
Submariner hatch type Screw down case backs, thick and
domed crystals, the list is endless.
Rolex Prototype Deep sea Special IS the Mother of all
Rolex Dive Watches.