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Extreme, crude and very expensive: The secret world of watch testing

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Deep within Rolex’s landmark Geneva HQ is a 1.3 tonne lump of stainless steel. Somewhat unprepossessing from the outside, inside is a hostile microcosm.

The tank simulates pressure at 16,000ft below sea level and it is inside that Rolex’s Deepsea watches are tested before release onto the market.
It is, potentially, an expensive process. The smallest flaw in each watch’s construction will make it explode, so it pays to make sure everything is right before undergoing this hyperbaric assault.
But this also means that the company has, for decades, been able to supply specialist pieces for divers working for the likes of Comex, the underwater engineering firm whose elite members hold the world record for the deepest saturation dives.
Rolex can also claim credibility for the wearer whose depths rarely surpass that of his morning shower. In fact, each Rolex is tested to a depth 25% greater than that stated on the dial.
And that’s by no means the only test a watch might go through. Rolex, for instance, puts its Oysterlock bracelets through 26 different kinds of drop tests; the fastening is opened and closed tens of thousands of times; it’s immersed in salt and sandy water and in chlorine solutions.