And just like that, Rolex delivers its first watch in titanium, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge. We will demur to tradition and simply refer to the watch as the Deepsea Challenge, to distinguish this from the regular Deepsea, which remains in the collection; the case reference number is 126067; these will no doubt be important numerals for collectors, and that places this watch high on the newsworthiness list. It certainly bumped a couple of pieces we were preparing this week…
For the moment, we will go by the numbers here as this is a dive watch from Rolex and it does not get more desirable than that. First off, for those who like to wear their watches, this new Deepsea is 50mm so you better have wrists like LeBron James. It is in a type of Grade 5 titanium called RLX so it will be lighter — it is 30 per cent less hefty than the 2012 version in steel, which is unsurprising. Given how heavy that beast was, this will still feel pleasantly resolute.
On a wetsuit, the girth of the Deepsea will be completely natural. On that note, the Deepsea is a professional tool for divers that is suitable for every kind of deep sea activity, from freedives to submersible dives and hyperbaric chambers. It has everything you would expect of a watch like this, including the familiar helium escape valve and the proprietary Ringlock system, which will be familiar to fans of the leviathan. It is water-resistant to 11,000 metres so it will be untroubled by the deepest depths of Davy Jones’ locker. Those who recall the Ringlock as it existed previously will know that it offered protection up to 3,900 metres of water-resistance in 2008 so it has come a long way…or smashed a previously unbroken limit.
Before we get to the important details such as fine adjustment on the RLX titanium bracelet, the finish of the case and the chamfer of the lugs, we do want to note for the record that we think Rolex will eventually introduce titanium elsewhere in its collections. We have said it before but it is worth noting that machining titanium is completely different to matching steel. So production for titanium watch cases and bracelets is on a different track. Even finishing will be different. Economies of scale dictate that Rolex must produce more of this material. This is entirely speculative of course, but this is perhaps the only kind of harmless speculation there is.
On then to the details, chief of which is the matte burnish of the case, bracelet and clasp. From what we can see (and we have only seen pictures), it seems that the Deepsea Challenge has the sort of muted finish that titanium pieces typically sport, with one exception. These are the polished edges of the lugs, features reported on by Monochrome and WatchesbySJX.
These are probably observations based on the photos, and what Rolex has said; you can judge for yourself. The bezel is Cerachrom, engraved with a 60-minute scale, which is then filled with platinum. Low-light legibility will be excellent thanks to Chromalight, another Rolex signature, and some collectors will be delighted to see that there is no date display here. The movement is the automatic calibre 3230 that powers the no-date Submariner, with all the features common to that model. The new Deepsea Challenge is not a big show of movement development anyway, but the entire Deepsea range has been updated and we may have more to say about this, most likely in WOW later this year. Finally, the Deepsea Challenge is priced at S$36,040, and availability is immediate, with the caveat that the retail reality is different.