The year was 1953 when Rolex joined Auguste Piccard’s bathyscaphe Trieste for an expedition. The Rolex Deep Sea Special N°1 was attached to the exterior of theTrieste for its inaugural deep-sea trial in the Mediterranean to a depth of 3,150 meters. Back then the watch was just a prototype that was under the process of perfection under Rolex's diving watch concept.
This watch then served as the proving ground for Rolex to develop the Deep Sea Special N°3 that was attached to the Trieste when it took an expedition to reach the then deepest-known point in the ocean – the Mariana Trench on 23rd January 1960. The Rolex Deep Sea Special N°3 is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
Developed as a prototype for perfecting the Rolex diving watch concept, this Rolex Deep Sea Special N°1 was attached to the hull of Auguste Piccard’s bathyscaphe Trieste for the inaugural deep-sea trial to a depth of 3,150 meters in the Mediterranean on 30 September 1953. This watch then served as the proving ground for the Rolex Deep Sea Special N°3 that would reach 10,908 meters in the Mariana Trench with the Trieste on 23 January 1960 and is today on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
After making history on the 30th of September 1053, the original Rolex Deep Sea Special N°1 is all set to create some world-record on the 8th of November 2021 when Christie's is offering this unique and rare timepiece up for auction at its Rare Watches Auction to be held at the Hotel Four Seasons Les Bergues in Geneva. “For a holy grail watch such as this prototype Deep Sea Special Number 1 to become available is a dream come true in so many ways and for so many watch lovers, Rolex fans and connoisseurs around the world. THIS WATCH is the ultimate incarnation of the Oyster case design which from then on defined the Rolex watches and the brand,” says Rémi Guillemin, Head of Watches, Christie’s Geneva.
According to the Christie's press release, there were a total of seven prototypes built of the Deep Sea Special between 1953 and 1960. From the lot, only three have been identified - the Deep Sea Special N°1 with a ‘low glass’ (made from Plexiglas) that accompanied Trieste on its first deep-sea trial down to 3,150 meters (10,245 feet) off the island of Ponza in 1953; the Deep Sea Special N°3 with a ‘high glass’ (a taller and thicker crystal, also of Plexiglas, one of the invaluable learnings from N°1) that made the trip down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench (10,916 meters, 35,814 feet) in 1960 and lastly the Deep Sea Special N°5, also a ‘high glass’ version.
Among these three rare watches, the Deep Sea Special N°5 was offered at auction by Christie's back in 2000, and the Deep Sea Special N°3 that was used for the expedition to the bottom of the Mariana Trench is out of reach as it sits (along with the Trieste) at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. So currently, the Deep Sea Special N°1 is the only watch available right now.
The Christie's Rare Watches Auction is scheduled to be held on the 8th of November 2021 at the Hotel Four Seasons Les Bergues in Geneva