Other than at Baselworld, Rolex is never one for surprises, but Rolex’s latest offering breaks a few of their predictable habits. Rolex has long been known for being glacially slow on watch development, but with the August 4 announcement of the D-blue DeepSea SeaDweller, hopefully a couple of Rolex’s long-standing habits are broken.
First, the introduction of the D-blue DeepSea SeaDweller was much different than Rolex introductions of the past. The early August launch is a vast departure from Rolex’s predictable release schedule. Since the 1950’s, Rolex has always introduced new watches at the Baselworld watch show held every spring in Basel, Switzerland. Between Baselworld events, Rolex keeps Pentagon-like secrecy on upcoming models and upgrades. Surprisingly, the August 4 release was not believed by many followers until the actual Rolex website posting providing an entire weekend of speculation as to what will be
unveiled. Many speculated, including ourselves, that the watch was related to the DeepSea SeaDweller because of the hint shown on the Rolex website resembled a DSSD, and the release coincided with the James Cameron DeepSea Challenge 3D movie release, an expedition Rolex sponsored.
Another pleasant surprise was the D-blue DeepSea SeaDweller’s arrival to Fourtané on the same day of the debut. Normally, Rolex announces their updated models at BaselWorld, followed by months of waiting before models trickled in over the late summer and early fall months. The debut and arrival of the D-blue DeepSea at dealers on the same day is a product introduction that even Apple Computer has a hard time orchestrating. Simultaneous debut and availability is a pleasant surprise and hopefully something that Rolex continues.
The other habit Rolex hopefully broke are releases of commemorative watches. Rolex has unveiled previous commemorative editions celebrating the summiting of Mount Everest, landing on the moon with the very rare “Space – Dweller” edition, the Malcolm Campbell edition after breaking the world land speed record, along with the celebratory editions highlighting the Panama Canal, but nothing in recent history. Rolex sponsors expeditions, sporting events, and the arts but never unveiled commemorative editions related to them. James Cameron’s decent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench was jointly sponsored by Rolex and National Geographic, and an exploratory feat that very few have done. Rolex developed a special watch, the Rolex DeepSea Challenge, to strap onto Cameron’s craft that descended to a depth greater than Mount Everest is tall. The watch survived proving Rolex’s undersea technology and made the decent even more momentous.
Reviews and opinions on the Internet watch forums are somewhat mixed on the commemorative D-blue dial. What seems to throw most is the yellow/green DeepSea on the dial, not realizing that the green/yellow DeepSea commemorates the color used in Cameron’s submersion craft “Tribute.”
What perhaps throws most longtime Rolex followers is something that my wife pointed out to me when she saw the dial. She pointed out that the dial is an “ombre” blend from sky-blue to black obviously representing the decent down to the deep ocean. She showed in Google images how ombre blends are prevalent in the fashion world from hair to clothing. Finding an ombre blend on a watch face is very rare. Most watches have high contrast dials (eg. Rolex Paul Newman dial), or pop-colors found on Swatch watches, but rarely is there a blend like the D-blue watch face. A close examination of the D-blue dial shows how the blue fades inconsistently into black, just as a cross section of an ocean. Most Rolex fans are used to consistent dials, especially on a specially designed watch such as the DeepSea. Despite the noise in the Internet forums, we at Fourtané think this is a great watch and the commemorative colors make the watch even more special. The DSSD is already a special watch with a provenance taking it under the North Pole and trekking to the deepest parts of the earth. There is one D-blue DeepSea at Fourtané, but getting this one might take a little while as getting the last one at Fourtané might require prying it off Josh’s cold dead wrist.
– Sheldon Smith