The Rolex Deep Sea Special No.1 was strapped onto Swiss oceanographer Auguste Piccard’s most successful bathyscaphe, the Trieste, when it was launched in 1953

Christie’s is set to auction the first-ever Rolex Deep Sea Special, which was strapped to Swiss oceanographer Auguste Piccard’s bathyscaphe, the Trieste, in 1953.

A bathyscaphe is a self-propelled vehicle used for deep-sea dives. They can dive deeper than a person with scuba gear and, in some instances, even deeper the submarines.

Made of two main components—a heavy steel crew cabin designed to resist pressure and a float made of air and gasoline tanks to allow the vehicle to dive and ascend—bathyscaphes were first designed by Piccard. His most successful vehicle, the Trieste, was launched in 1953 and dived to 3,150 metres (10,300 feet) with the Rolex Deep Sea Special No.1, which Christie’s will auction this November, strapped to its hull.

Developed as a prototype by Rolex in the watchmaker’s quest for the ultimate diving watch, the Rolex Deep Sea Special No.1’s case, original movement and bracelet are described by Christie’s as being in “perfect working condition”.

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“For a holy grail watch such as this prototype Deep Sea Special No.1 to become available is a dream come true in so many ways and for so many watch lovers,” says Rémi Guillemin, head of watches, Christie’s Geneva. “This watch is the ultimate incarnation of the Oyster case design, which from then on defined Rolex watches and the brand.”

Seven Deep Sea Special prototypes were built between 1953 and 1960, and only three have resurfaced publicly over the years: this Deep Sea Special No.1; the Deep Sea Special No.3, which descended 10,908 metres alongside the Trieste in 1960 and is on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC; and the Deep Sea Special No.5, which was sold by Christie’s in 2000.

The Christie’s Rare Watches Auction will take place on 8 November 2021 at the Hotel Four Seasons Les Bergues in Geneva

See also: An Ultra-Rare Rolex Deep Sea Special Watch Is Up for Auction This November

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