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Longines Timepieces in Bathyscaphe Trieste And On The Wrist of Piccard

We, human beings, have a fascination for exploration. We’re pioneers, adventurers and largely, we’re curious to know every part about our planet and what’s round it. Man has travelled by house, has been on the Moon, flew in ultra-fast planes, and likewise explored the deepest level on planet Earth, Challenger Deep close to the Mariana Trench. On 23 January 1960, swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh have been the primary crew to succeed in the underside of the Challenger Deep, a narrative well-known by watch fans, because of the involvement of Rolex within the mission. However what is way much less identified is the presence of Longines timepieces, each onboard the Trieste, and on the wrist of Piccard himself (at the very least within the first report dive of 1953). And in the present day, with a little bit of assist from the Longines Museum, we offer you extra particulars about this Longines x Piccard connection. 

Piccard, father and son

Behind the story of the Trieste and all the next report dives to lastly attain the deepest level on Earth are two males, a father and his son, Auguste and Jacques Piccard.

Auguste Piccard (1884-1962) was a Swiss physicist, inventor and explorer, identified for exploring each the Earth’s higher environment and its best depths. A graduate from the Swiss Federal Institute of Know-how in Zürich and later a professor of physics in Brussels, he’s largely identified for his curiosity in ballooning and a curiosity concerning the higher environment. This may lead him to construct a spherical, pressurized aluminium gondola that may permit him ascent to a terrific altitude – on 27 Might 1931, Piccard and Kipfer will attain a report altitude of 15,781 metres or 51,775ft, turning into the primary males to enter the stratosphere. On this occasion, they’re broadly thought of the primary males to visually observe the curvature of the Earth. Afterward, Auguste Piccard will present curiosity within the exploration of the depths, when he realized {that a} modification of his high-altitude balloon cockpit would permit descent into the deep ocean.

Auguste and Jacques Piccard in 1953, on high of Trieste – picture sourced from

By the mid-Nineteen Thirties, Auguste Piccard began to design his first bathyscaphe, a free-diving self-propelled deep-sea submersible. Resulting from WWII, the development solely resumed in 1946, and in 1948, he finalized the first-ever bathyscaphe, FNRS-2, named after the Fonds Nationwide de la Recherche Scientifique, and inbuilt Belgium (FNRS-1 was the balloon used for Piccard’s ascent into the stratosphere in 1938). The idea was a bubble-shaped cockpit to keep up regular air stress, hooked up beneath floats that may be crammed with water with a view to descend. Later given to the French Navy (in 1950), FNRS-2 will break a brand new manned dive report in 1954, reaching 4,176m after some modifications. After this primary bathyscaphe, Piccard will develop a second one, one that may develop into a legend, the Trieste.

Jacques Piccard, following his report dive in 1960, after reaching Challenger Deep with Walsh – picture sourced from

His son, Jacques Piccard (1922-2008) adopted go well with. A swiss oceanographer and engineer, he began his profession by educating economics on the College of Geneva… However within the meantime, he was additionally serving to his father enhance his bathyscaphes. In 1953, father and son will obtain their first report dive – on 30 September 1953 within the Mediterranean Sea – reaching a depth of three,150m. After which, Piccard will search monetary assist from the U.S. Navy, with a view to enhance the household’s bathyscaphe Trieste, which is able to consequence within the completion of Challenge Nekton – U.S. Navy codename for the sequence of deep dives that may finish when reaching Challenger Deep.

The Bathyscaphe Trieste

Designed by Swiss Auguste and Jacques Piccard, and constructed in Italy from the early Nineteen Fifties, Trieste is actually one of the vital well-known submarines ever created. The conception of Trieste is an enchancment of what father and son Piccard discovered with FNRS-2 and the ship was launched formally on 26 August 1953 into the Mediterranean Sea, close to the Isle of Capri. Trieste consisted of a float chamber crammed with gasoline and a separate stress sphere to carry the crew – a conception that was named bathyscaphe by the Piccards (in opposition to the bathysphere idea, a sphere that was lowered to depth and raised once more to the floor by a cable hooked up to a ship.)

Retrieved from NH 96801 U.S. Navy Bathyscaphe Trieste (1958-1963), Artwork assortment, U.S. Naval Historical past and Heritage Command web site. Launched by the U.S. Navy Electronics Laboratory, San Diego, California.

The primary vital step within the historical past of Trieste occurred on 30 August 1953, when father and son Piccard reached a depth of three,150m, a report at the moment for a manned dive. The report might be damaged, as defined above, by the French Navy with one other Piccard-designed bathyscaphe – FNRS-2, in 1954.

The second step within the lifetime of Trieste has to do with america Navy, which bought the ship after a number of years of operation within the Mediterranean Sea in 1958, for USD 250,000. The thought was that Trieste would be the most important software to finish Challenge Nekton, with the only real thought to succeed in the Challenger Deep, the deepest surveyed level on this planet’s oceans.

The U.S. Navy Bathyscaphe Trieste, simply earlier than her report dive to the underside of the Marianas Trench, 23 January 1960 – supply U.S. Navy picture NH 96797

In October 1959, bathyscaphe Trieste was despatched to Guam to take part in Challenge Nekton, starting a sequence of U.S. Navy-sponsored dives within the western Pacific Ocean. Oceanographer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh would be the crew for these analysis dives and the mission culminated on 23 January 1960, when Trieste, with each males on board, reached the ground within the Challenger Deep, the deepest southern a part of the Mariana Trench – a primary for a vessel, crewed or uncrewed. Whereas the onboard methods indicated a depth of 11,521 metres, the true depth reached was later revised to a extra exact 10,916 metres.

After a descent that took 4 hours 47 minutes, Piccard and Walsh will spend twenty minutes on the ocean ground, within the small (2.16m in diameter) stress sphere, hooked up to the underside of the float. After an ascent of three hours and quarter-hour, they lastly made it to the floor and entered historical past.

Rolex and Trieste

When speaking concerning the Piccards and the Trieste, it’s inconceivable to not point out Rolex and the very-special-indeed Rolex Deep Sea Particular watches that the Crown developed with a view to take a look at the water-resistance of its watches to unimaginable pressures and depths. As well as, since two of those RDSS might be auctioned quickly, one by Phillips (a show mannequin) and one by Christie’s (in reality, #1, which was hooked up to the outside of Trieste in 1953 through the first report dive), a small reminder appears acceptable.

Christie’s Announces Sale of The Rolex Deep Sea Special N°1 That Was Attached to Bathyscaphe Trieste in 1953Rolex Deep Sea Particular N°1, which took the report dive along with Trieste in 1953

In response to public sale home Christie’s, “seven prototypes of the Rolex Deep Sea Particular have been constructed between 1953 and 1960. This a lot is completely sure, solely three have thus far been recognized: the Deep Sea Particular N°1 with a ‘low glass’ (produced from Plexiglas) that accompanied Trieste on its first deep-sea trial down to three,150 meters (10,245 toes) off the island of Ponza in 1953; the Deep Sea Particular N°3 with a ‘excessive glass’ (a taller and thicker crystal, additionally of Plexiglas, one of many invaluable learnings from N°1) that made the journey all the way down to the underside of the Mariana Trench (10,916 meters, 35,814 toes) in 1960 and is in the present day out of attain however on show, along with the Trieste, on the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC; and Deep Sea Particular N°5, additionally a ‘excessive glass’ model, which presumably served as a proving floor for additional excessive testing within the interval main as much as 1960.”

The Rolex Deep Sea Particular quantity 35 supplied by Phillips

Additionally, Christie’s provides that “within the early to mid-Sixties, to rejoice the dive all the way down to the world’s deepest place Rolex produced about three dozen show fashions to share their exploit and know-how with the general public,” which is the case for the mannequin supplied by Phillips.

What’s vital about these Deep Sea Specials, and with out doing all the historical past once more (there are extraordinarily full articles on this subject), is that these watches have been experimental fashions hooked up to the EXTERIOR of the Trieste. They weren’t worn on the wrist of the crew members however, on this occasion, made historical past for being a number of the most water resistant watches ever created… and that, with Nineteen Fifties expertise and manufacturing strategies. Nothing in need of an unimaginable achievement.

Jacques Piccard with a Rolex Deep Sea Particular in hand – circa 1953 – picture sourced from Rolex Ardour Report and Rolex Perpetual Spirit Journal

However… If the story of the Rolex Deep Sea Particular watches and the reference to the Trieste is actually broadly identified, what’s coming subsequent is way much less fashionable – and within the case of the Longines wrist chronograph, one thing which may have by no means been advised earlier than.

The Longines chronograph worn by Jacques Piccard in 1953, through the first report dive

As mentioned, the Rolex Deep Sea Particular watches weren’t meant to be worn on the wrist and have been hooked up to the outside of the Trieste. Nonetheless, because of images and letters shared by the Longines Museum, we have been in a position to see Jacques Piccard through the report dive of 30 August 1953 with a chronograph watch on the wrist – Ps. the watch is definitely seen in a sequence of images revealed within the ebook Auguste. Jacques. Bertrand Piccard : A la Conquête du ciel et des Abysses (Gallimard, 2009) by Jean-François Rubin & Arnaud Schwartz, and within the ebook Au fond des mers en bathyscaphe (Arthaud, 1954) by Auguste Piccard, nonetheless, because of copyright, we’re not allowed to publish these photographs right here.

Picture by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone through Getty Photographs
Longines 13ZN Chronograph ref. 5415 – 1948 Longines Brochure

So, to make issues very exact, Jacques Piccard, through the first report dive achieved by father and son in September 1953, at a depth of three,150 metres, was carrying a Longines 13ZN Chronograph reference 5415, serial quantity 7136197. This watch is a wrist chronograph in stainless-steel, with a hand-wound chronograph motion calibre 13ZN, invoiced on 20 September 1947 by Maison Bessire, agent of Longines in Belgium. It includes a white dial ref. 11-90 with Arabic numerals in radium and probably luminous arms with radium too.

An instance of the Longines Chronograph 13ZN ref 5415 – picture by Phillips

The Museum defined to us that two watches have been ordered by Piccard for experimental use, with serial quantity 7136196 and serial quantity 7136197. The latter was the one worn by Jacques Piccard in 1953. To additional attest the presence of this watch on the wrist of Jacques Piccard through the historic dive with Triest in 1953, Longines introduced to us two letters, a communication between Longines and Piccard, regarding the necessity to service this watch:

Above: a letter from Jacques Piccard to Longines on 19 December 1953 – within the letter, Piccard explains that he needs to ship his Longines 13ZN Chronograph for service, with the necessity to change the Plexiglas. Extra importantly, he says within the second paragraph, “I additionally wish to inform you that I used to be carrying on my wrist this watch through the dive with Bathyscaphe Trieste at 3,150m, on 30 September (1953)”

Above: a letter from Longines answering to Piccard, on 30 December 1953, the place the corporate exhibits its pleasure to know that the watch (later clearly talked about as quantity 7136197) was onboard the Trieste for the 1953 report dive. It additionally mentions some Longines stopwatches, however extra in a while this subject.

The Longines Stopwatches onboard Trieste

Considerably higher identified is the story of the timing gadgets that have been on board the bathyscaphe Trieste, to be exact a Movado chronometer (a clock) and two stopwatches from Longines – as already talked about by Roger Ruegger in Watchtime and Rescapement.

Simply above the top of Jacques Piccard is an oblong field, which contains the 2 Longines stopwatches (and on its proper is the Movado clock) – picture sourced from

The bathyscaphe Trieste was a posh machine, which was created to dive into uncertainty. As such, the Piccards featured a number of security methods. One in all them, operated by the 2 Longines stopwatches, was already launched within the bathyscaphe FNRS-2. It consisted of a time machine that may reduce mechanically the facility of the ballast after a given period of time if the bathyscaphe hadn’t reached the specified depth.

The security system used onboard the Trieste, with two Longines stopwatches.

This method might be used once more within the Trieste, through the record-breaking dive of 1960, as attested by the picture above. Additionally, the letters between Longines and Jacques Piccard point out the presence of those stopwatches within the 1953 dive.

Above, a letter from Maurice Savoye, director of Longines, on 10 November 1953. Mr Savoye explains his enthusiasm concerning the achievement of the Piccards in September 1953, after reaching 3,150m with Trieste. He additionally explains having learn the “Corriere d’Informazione” (letter of knowledge) from 16/17 October 1953, reporting the presence of the Longines stopwatches and the security system put in onboard Trieste. On the identical time, and although Longines’ director feels extraordinarily grateful to be related to this achievement, the model abandon the concept of speaking publically on this particular subject with an promoting marketing campaign, however he mentions the chance to elucidate this achievement to the model’s companions and buddies.

Above, one other letter (the identical as proven earlier than, concerning the service of the 13ZN chronograph) making point out once more of the stopwatches and the security machine put in onboard Trieste.

Picture sourced from

Lastly, this machine will be seen contained in the copy of the Trieste’s gondola uncovered on the Deutsche Museum in Munich, as seen above in a barely completely different configuration for the outer protecting field, which is colored in blue. As for the precise bathyscaphe Trieste, it’s now retired and on show on the Nationwide Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington.

We’d wish to thank Longines and particularly Daniel Hug, Head of Branding and Heritage of the model, for serving to us with the historic background.