Rolex celebrates 50 years of underwater heritage - News

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Tuesday 24 August, 2010 - 10:10 AM EDT

Rolex celebrates 50 years of underwater heritage

Experience and knowledge

Trieste Rolex 1953

On the evening of January 23, 1960 as the setting sun turned the surface of the Pacific Ocean deep orange, Swiss oceanographer and engineer Jacques Piccard and United States Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh lowered themselves through the narrow tube and into the cabin of the bathyscaph, Trieste.

After having purchased the vessel, organised and financed the entire endeavour, the U.S. Navy then spent nine months preparing the Trieste and her team to participate in Project Nekton, a series of scientifically conducted deep dives carried out near the island of Guam in the Western Pacific. Nekton was, according to a U.S. Navy press release, a high-level undertaking intended to provide “scientific knowledge of sunlight penetration, underwater visibility, transmission of man-made sounds, and marine geological studies”. Strapped to the outside of the Trieste was a Rolex “Deep Sea Special”, the most advanced in a series of prototypes designed to withstand pressure that no human could ever survive. Together, the Rolex and the Trieste descended into uncharted waters.

Rolex was present on the project from 1953, when the Trieste was first launched, allowing the Swiss watch company to gain enormous experience and knowledge from the close collaboration in the years that would follow.

In early 1958, the U.S. Navy purchased the Trieste from the Piccards; Jacques was hired as a consultant to train personnel to maintain and operate it. The sphere of the Trieste – originally designed to withstand pressure at 6,000 metres (19,684 feet) – was then enlarged and perfected to withstand 11,000 metres (30,088 feet) of pressure. In all, the Trieste carried out 64 dives before the ship and her crew were ready for the ultimate test.

In jarringly rough seas on January 23, 1960 and with Piccard at his side, Walsh piloted the Trieste toward the silent darkness of the Mariana Trench. At almost 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) below sea level, the area known as the challenger Deep – the deepest known depression on the surface of our planet – was believed to be inhospitable to any life form.

At 10,916 metres, the pressure is over one metric tonne per square centimetre. To the surprise of the crew and, later, to the entire scientific community, with the help of the light provided by the bathyscaph’s mercury vapour lamps, Walsh and Piccard witnessed something no man had seen: marine life at the very bottom of the ocean. When the Trieste surfaced nearly 9 hours later, it became the first vessel – manned or unmanned – to reach the deepest part of the Earth’s ocean. The record set that day one half of a century ago remains unequalled by any manned vessel to this day. On January 25, 1960, a telegram arrived at the Rolex headquarters in Geneva. “Happy to announce that your watch works as well at 11,000 metres as it does on the surface”. It was signed Jacques.


Rolex Watches at Interwatches!

Source: Rolex

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