Without this Rolex watch, there would be no Submariner or Sea Dweller as we know it
Just how important is the Rolex “Deep Sea Special”? Well, according to one expert, it is the watch that defined what Rolex is today, and its creation led Rolex to focus on tool watches in general and dive watches in particular.
Dive watch enthusiasts know that one must be prepared to wait at least a year or three for a Rolex Submariner (especially if it is in steel). But anyone who wants to get their hands on its historic precursor might have to wait about a decade.
Phillips, in association with Bacs & Russo, recently announced a Rolex “Deep Sea Special” (DSS) from 1965 to be auctioned this November for The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV. The last time one of these showed up on the market was 12 years ago, and this particular model has never before been publicly available for purchase.
Just as enticing as its rarity is its history. Rolex has long had close ties to the world of diving ever since it created the world’s first waterproof watch with its Oyster case in 1926. In 1953, the company decided to further research in that respect and unveiled the very first Deep Sea Special. It was tested at depths of 1,080m and 3,150m, and was ready for adventure.
That adventure arrived in 1960, when the Deep Sea Special shared a historic achievement with explorers Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh after it descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, resurfacing safely from a depth of 10,916m.
To commemorate the mission’s success, Rolex made a handful of Deep Sea Special watches in the following years, and this auction piece is number 35. If it looks unfamiliar, it is because this series was reserved only for museums, longstanding retailers, and partners that contributed to the development of the watch. The most famous example – the number 3 that was part of the 1960 expedition – is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
But even if you’ve never seen this model before, you’ll recognise its legacy. “The DSS is the watch that defined what Rolex is today, it is the philosophy behind its creation that led Rolex to focus on tool watches in general and dive watches in particular,” said Alexandre Ghotbi, Phillips’ head of watches for continental Europe and the Middle East. “Without the Deep Sea Special there would be no Submariner or Sea Dweller as we know it.”
The watch is estimated to go for CHF1.2 million (S$1.75 million) to CHF2.4 million, and the auction will be held at the La Reserve hotel in Geneva on Nov 5 and Nov 7, 2021.