• Important Watches auction at Christies

    Sale 1376

    Important Watches

    15 November 2010, Geneva

  • Lot 123

    Rolex. An extremely rare and unusual aluminium and bakelite pressure gauge prototype

    SIGNED ROLEX, DIVOMET, R D 14 X, CIRCA 1955

    Price Realised  

    Rolex. An extremely rare and unusual aluminium and bakelite pressure gauge prototype
    Signed Rolex, Divomet, R D 14 x, circa 1955
    Brass and nickel-finished pressure gauge, black lacquer dial, 10 feet by 10 feet indicated by a luminous triangular-shaped hand on a bright red bakelite scale calibrated for 20 units, feet indicated by the second, centred by a circular bright red bakelite cartouche with cream-coloured Rolex crown and signature "Rolex Divomet", all applied underneath the crystal, luminous straight hand, in massive circular case, back hold by a screw down bezel and designed to hold a bracelet, dial signed, case numbered
    57 mm. diam. & 27 mm. depth


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    The present "Divomet" is one of the exceptional rare "Manomètre Bourdon" devices for which Rolex obtained Swiss Patent No. 324229 on 15 September 1957, UK Patent No. 771'204 was published on 27 March 1957 (photocopies of Patents No. 324229 and 771'204 and the correspondent technical drawing will be delivered with the "Divomet").

    This pressure gauge was designed for measuring the depth of oceans or lakes, one hand indicating the feet 10 by 10, the second hand showing the relevant feet. A bracelet passes through the circular crankcase which contains the mechanism as found in a Bourdon manometer.

    Unknown to literature, the Rolex "Divomet", certainly standing for "diving meter", never went beyond the prototype stage. Preserved in like new overall condition and fitted with a bright-coloured bakelite insert, normally associated with Rolex GMT-Master wristwatch ref. 6542 launched in 1954, the present "Divomet" was most likely one of these prototypes and has never actually been used.

    Based on the year when Rolex invention of a Manometer Bourdon was submitted, 1955, it can safely be assumed that this ingenious device was originally developed for Auguste and Jacques Piccard's deep sea diving expeditions. Most notably is certainly the "Deep Sea Special" which was successfully put on trial in 1960 when Jacques Piccard and Navy Lieutenant Donald Walsh descended in the "Trieste" to the deepest known point on Earth - the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The two men made the deepest dive in history: 10,915 meters (35,810 ft) with a "Deep Sea Special" fixed to the outside of the bathyscaph. The watch hold up to a pressure of 1,150 atm or 1,150 kgs per cm2.

    The Bourdon pressure gauge uses the principle that a flattened tube tends to change to a more circular cross-section when pressurized. Although this change in cross-section may be hardly noticeable, and thus involving moderate stresses within the elastic range of easily workable materials, the strain of the material of the tube is magnified by forming the tube into a C shape or even a helix, such that the entire tube tends to straighten out or uncoil, elastically, as it is pressurized. Eugene Bourdon patented his gauge in France in 1849, and it was widely adopted because of its superior sensitivity, linearity, and accuracy.

    (Sold without strap).

    Special Notice

    Prospective buyers should be aware that the importation of Rolex watches into the United States is highly restricted. Rolex watches may not be shipped into the USA and can only be imported personally. Generally a buyer may import only one watch into the USA. For further information please contact our specialists in charge of the sale. Please note other countries may have comparable import restrictions for luxury watches.