Rolex and Omega could get sucked into a battle of claims and counter-claims over which of two submarine missions went deepest into the Mariana Trench, the world’s greatest distance below sea level in the mid-Atlantic.
Hollywood director and Rolex testimonee James Cameron has challenged the claim of Omega ambassador Victor Vescovo over whether his mission to the bottom of the trench went any deeper than his own dive in 2012.
In an interview with Wired magazine, Mr Cameron insists: “I question that result,” adding, “I also question why nobody else has questioned that result.”
To ensure his remarks were not taken as unconsidered, he followed up in a message to the The New York Times describing the dive by Mr Vescovo. “What he’s done is quite remarkable. Where I take exception is his saying he went deeper. “You can’t go deeper [at the bottom of the Mariana Trench]. It’s flat and featureless.”
When Mr Cameron traveled seven miles down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in 2012, he entrusted his timekeeping to a specially created Rolex divers’ watch.
Rolex, which co-sponsored the historic submarine trip, created an experimental Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge timepiece that was seen worn on the wrist of James Cameron, and on a robotic arm outside the submarine.
Omega claimed in June this year that it had broken the world record for the deepest dive survived by a wristwatch after specially developed Seamaster Planet Ocean models made it to the bottom of the same trench attached to robotic arms of submarines piloted by Mr Vescovo in his Five Deeps mission.
If the published data from both missions is accurate, the Omega mission of Mr Vescovo found a small depression on the seabed at the bottom of the trench that was recorded at 30 metres deeper than the 10,898 meters below sea level achieved by the Deepsea Challenge mission of Mr Cameron.
“His gauge may read differently from mine, but he can’t say he’s gone deeper,” Mr Cameron insists.
The question may forever remain unsettled. Scientists speaking to Britain’s The Times today would not commit.
Andy Bowen, leader of an expedition by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod to explore the trench in 2009 said it was not impossible Mr Vescovo had found a slightly deeper point. However, “Does it seem probable? Not really,” he said.