In September 1979, oceanographer Sylvia Earle was strapped to the front of a small submarine and dropped into the Pacific Ocean off the Hawaiian island of Oahu. When she reached the seabed and unfastened herself, Earle was 381 metres beneath the surface, setting the world record for the deepest untethered dive.
The marine biologist and explorer has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the crisis in our oceans. She’s been a Rolex testimonee since 1982, and her most ambitious project, Mission Blue, is supported by the watchmaker as part of its Perpetual Planet initiative, which was launched in 2019 to help redefine our relationship with the blue planet by finding solutions to Earth’s environmental challenges.
The word “perpetual” holds a special place in the vocabulary of Rolex. For nearly a century, it’s been inscribed on every Oyster watch built at the company’s manufacture in Switzerland. Used to describe something that never ends, the “perpetual” philosophy has come to reinforce the watchmaker’s conservation efforts. Since the 1930s, brand founder Hans Wilsdorf has supported intrepid explorers, mountaineers and scientists as well as their quests to the toughest places on Earth.
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise, also part of the brand's Perpetual Planet initiative, supports exceptional individuals to implement projects that enhance our knowledge of the world, improve human wellbeing, and help protect the environment. The brand is also collaborating with the National Geographic Society to carry out a number of expeditions that will increase our knowledge of the impact of climate change on some of the world's most important ecosystems.
In addition, Rolex continues to expand the portfolio of partnerships under the Perpetual Planet initiative. These include: the Under The Pole expeditions, which push the boundaries of underwater exploration; the B.I.G expedition to the North Pole in 2023, which will gather data on threats to the Arctic; and the Monaco Blue Initiative, which brings together experts to develop solutions for ocean conservation.
Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something to make a difference— Sylvia Earle