Monday, January 30, 2012

Gear Hall of Fame: The Rolex Sea Dweller and Explorer

On January 23, 1960 Jacques Piccard, a Swiss oceanographer and Lt. Don Walsh reached the bottom of Mariana's Trench, the deepest hole in the Earth's crust.  The dive took them 35,757 feet beneath the waves (they were so deep, in fact, that the measuring equipment at the time was not good enough to calculate their depth correctly; it wasn't until years later when scientists were able to calculate the correct depth listed above).  They made their perilous journey inside the bathyscape Trieste.  On the outside of the Trieste, strapped to the hull was a Rolex Sea Dweller, perhaps one of the most famous piece of gear of all time.  Once Piccard emerged safe from the dive he sent a telegraph to Rolex telling them that the watch survived the dive and, in fact, was still keeping perfect time.  It was a pinnacle achievement in horology, a testament to an art and science that went back centuries.

The Sea Dweller used was modified from the stock Sea Dweller by Rolex specifically for the dive, but nonetheless that feat is incredibly impressive.  Rolex made its name by taking part in stuns like this. Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa that climbed Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hilary, also had a Rolex on his wrist when he summited Chomolungma (the Tibetan name for Mount Everest).  The fact that he had the Rolex with him is strikingly ironic.  Here is this man--an explorer in the truest sense of the word--a man bred and born in the mountains and with so little need for technology that he had never used or even seen a camera at the time of his accomplishment (this is why there is no picture of Hilary at the top, only one of Norgay).  Yet he had a Rolex on his wrist--a Rolex Explorer to be exact.

Bad ass dudes and some bad ass gear.  


  1. Really like Rolex a lot - would love to own one one day. While the Sea Dweller is incredibly cool and overbuilt, I think I'd go with a Submariner. Often imitated, never duplicated, it goes great with everything from a suit to jeans. And they hold onto their value really well (well, all Rolex watches do).

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