Phillips Will Unearth a Rare Rolex “Deep Sea Special” at Auction

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Phillips is bringing the Formula One of timepieces to the Geneva Watch Auction in November.

For the first time in 12 years, a Rolex “Deep Sea Special,” an exceedingly rare model developed for divers, will hit the market. Only five of the water-resistant, pressure-proof watches have ever been sold in the public sphere — most are on display at museums, including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and the Piccard Museum Nyon in Switzerland.

Phillips values the watch — a model from 1965 — at CHF 1.2 to 2.4 million (approximately $1.31 to $2.6 million).

Responding to newfound demand for waterproof watches, Rolex began developing the Deep Sea Special in 1950. Taking its famed Oyster case to an entirely new level, the Swiss watchmaker worked with oceanographer Jacques Piccard to engineer a model outfitted with a domed crystal, able to withstand extreme pressure.

From 1953 to 1960, Piccard completed a series of dives with the watch, eventually submerging it over 10,000 meters (32,800 feet) underwater.

Rolex is no stranger to high-value sales. In 2017, Paul Newman’s Daytona fetched $17.8 million, setting the world record for a wristwatch at auction. One year later, an 18-karat white gold, Oyster-cased Daytona sold for $6.5 million, thanks to its one-of-a-kind nature (it’s the only white gold vintage Daytona in existence) and notable provenance (famed collector John Goldberger owned the watch).

Though the Deep Sea Special may only fetch up to $2.6 million (chump change, compared to the Paul Newman) the watch represents a significant moment in Rolex history. As for the timepiece’s eventual owner, we have one question: do you dare take it for a dive?

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