Monday, November 22, 2021

Three Generations of Cousteau's...

Becoming Cousteau

Documentary in Theaters 

Debuts Online on Disney+

November 24th 

If you are a regular reader you know I am a huge fan of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, so it should come as no surprise I am extremely excited to share this news with your that National Geographic Documentary Films is launching their brand new Jacques-Yves Cousteau documentary directed by Academy Award Nominated Director Liz Garbus on Disney + on November 24, 2021.

Below, you can watch the Trailer for Becoming Cousteau which focuses on French explorer, environmentalist and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Jacques-Yves Cousteau played a significant role in Rolex history, so below the movie trailer I invite you to check-out my story on Costeau and Rolex history...

“As a little girl, I watched Jacques Cousteau in wonder and amazement every Sunday night. He brought cameras into a strange, wild and beautiful world few had ever seen, and nobody else had ever filmed before. He inspired me to dream and imagine my own unseen worlds. I want my children’s generation to get to know this transcendent figure, to dream their own dreams and to be inspired to love and preserve the natural world just as he was.”
—Liz Garbus


There are some AMAZING images from The Cousteau Society featured in the documentary that show Jacques-Yves Cousteau rocking his Rolex Submariner while filming The Silent World.

Jacques Cousteau (center) wearing his Prototype Rolex Submariner along with  Calypso crew member Andrè Laban (R) film a scene for The Silent World. Co-Director, Louis Malle (L), holds up a clapperboard. (Credit: The Cousteau Society)

The close-up photo below shows JYC rocking his Rolex Submariner, which is very cool...

The photo below shows Jacques-Yves Cousteau with Louis Marden and they are both rocking Rolex Submariner models during Calypso's Indian Ocean voyage. The February 1956 National Geographic article in which the photo appeared referred to their oxygen tanks "Agualungs."

Jacques Cousteau briefs Luis Marden before a dive with Aqualung. (Pierre Goupil/National Geographic)

The photos below are close-up from the image above. The first image shows Jacques-Yves Cousteau rocking a Submariner.

The next photo shows a close-up of Luis Marden's Submariner Prototype and notice it has pencil hands, and lacks the now trademark Mercedes logo on the minute hand. Luis Marden was a super talented Phototgrapher who worked closely with Rolex on many projects over many decades. Luis Marden was a photographer who worked for National Geographic and was also a treasure hunter. Marden served with Jacques Piccard on the first Rolex Awards for Enterprise committee, under Rolex Director, André-Jean Heiniger.

The Complete History Of

Jacques-Yves Cousteau & Rolex

From Submariner to SEA-DWELLER

In Search Of 

Jacques-Yves Cousteau

''People protect what they love." 

—Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Jacques-Yves Couteau in 1948

When I started Jake's Rolex World fourteen years ago, my goal was to capture as much of Rolex's amazing history as possible, as well as to separate-the-fact-from-the-fiction on falsely perpetuated Rolex myths

At the time, I couldn't help but notice there were two significant Rolex related historical figures who surprisingly seemed to almost not exist on the world-wide-web, and that was Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf and explorer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau. I will point out there were many career similarities between Cousteau and Wilsdorf in the sense they both had superb marketing minds and were highly disruptive innovators. 

With Hans Wilsdorf, there were only two photos of him on the entire web—the one that was taken when he was an older man with the crazy hair, and the one when he was young and handsome with a mustache. This struck me as being almost a crime against humanity as I realized Wilsdorf was arguably one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history. 

I wanted to know Wilsdorf's story and assumed many of my readers did as well. And that is exactly what I did. I wrote an enormously detailed story which I believe captures the magic of Hans Wilsdorf's astronomical lifetime achievements.

Whatever Happened To 

Jacques Cousteau?

The second person strangely absent from the internet a decade and a half ago was Jacques-Yves Cousteau, which struck me as being really peculiar since he was so popular during my childhood!?!! I am not talking specifically about Cousteau in the context of Rolex. I mean in general. There were some low resolution photos of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and tidbits of writing, but nothing cohesive or substantial on his stunning career achievements.

As a result of my curiosity and frustration, I set out on a mission to extensively document both Hans Wilsdorf and Jacques-Yves Cousteau's career achievements, and ended up creating the single largest story on each man—on the web—which included the largest repositories of photos for both men. I did the same for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. It is interesting to note the year Jacques-Yves was born, the Rolex brand Hans Wilsdorf founded in London, England was only two years old.

Cousteau Legacy 

My first story on Jacques-Yves Cousteau was a 5 part series where I discovered he wore a Rolex Submariner prototype in 1953 when he was filming his Silent World documentary. I remember I almost fell out of my chair when I first discovered in 2007 and published the image below of Cousteau taken aboard the Calypso in 1953 rockin' a Rolex Submariner!!! The fact Cousteau wore this Rolex Submariner was previously undocumented.

Video footage of Jacques-Yves Cousteau taken in 1953 about the Calypso

In that same year, I began what Ariel Adams from A Blog To Watch once described as an epic Rolex tome, which is my 20 Part series named: The Complete History of The Rolex Submariner and SEA-DWELLER: Rolex's Conquest Of The Ocean, which largely incorporated and revolved around Jacques-Yves Cousteau. In that story, it seemed behind everything, or at the center of everything was Jacques-Yves Cousteau—in one way or another.

When I first interviewed Céline Cousteau she asked me about her grandfather Jacques-Yves and his relationship with Rolex. I took her on a tour of his Rolex history, and then when I interviewed her father Jean-Michel Cousteau who is Jacques-Yves Cousteau's son, he didn't seem that familiar with his father's history with Rolex either. 

That is one of the reasons I decided to write this definitive story—to put in one cohesive place a narrative that chronicles the Cousteau legacy and at the same time showcases in a comprehensive manner Jacques-Yves Cousteau's significant relationship with Rolex. I took this approach as I realized I have told Cousteau's story dozens of times in the past, but never in its totality as I do here.

This is a very detailed story and after I wrote it I realized it's the first time Jacques-Yves Cousteau's in-depth Rolex story has been told in one place in its entirety. In other words, for the first time, we get a thorough understanding of Cousteau's significant contribution to the history of Rolex. Also, this story offers a fascinating update on all of Jacques Cousteau's adult descendants, of which I am certain Captain Cousteau would be very proud of.  

The First Family Of Exploration

Céline Cousteau

I interviewed Céline Cousteau several years ago and we had the most amazing conversation about her career achievements as well as discussing the entire Cousteau family today—where they are, and what they are doing...I believe it's safe to say the torch has been passed to the next generation who are all doing amazing things to protect earth...

In the photo below we see Céline Cousteau swimming through the ocean with dolphins. Notice Celine is NOT wearing a tank but just a snorkel. Radical!!!! Check out the length of those flippers!!! She must get some serious speed going with those!!!

Céline Cousteau has an effervescent personality with lots of moxie and determination. Like all of Jacques-Yves progeny, Céline remains in perpetual admiration of her grandfather and all of his incredible lifetime achievements. She told me, "My whole life I have been in awe of my father and grandfather and I strive to make a contribution to humanity they way they have!"

In the next photo, we see Céline diving with a school of fish in the ocean.

In the image below from the December 2013 cover of Town & Country Magazine we see Céline Cousteau with her brother Fabien Cousteau. 

Return To The Amazon

Céline Cousteau's grandfather lead his team and brought the Calpyso on an expedition in 1982 down the Amazon river which lasted several months.  

Mission Amazon ended up being a 5 part series that aired on the ABC television network to accolades and critical acclaim. 

Jacques-Yves Cousteau with Ted Turner

Ted Turner financed the expedition and Jacques-Yves son, Jean-Michel helped produce it. Below is the original TV trailer for Cousteau's Amazon Expedition.

In the photo below we see Céline Cousteau piloting her zodiac boat down the Amazon with her grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau's Calypso in the background. 

Céline and I discussed her first trip down the Amazon which her father Jean-Michel Cousteau took her on with her grandfather, and she mentioned how engaged and fascinated she was with the expedition, and in particular meeting the native people. This resulted in her returning a quarter of a century later with her father Jean-Michel on a return expedition to the Amazon.

 Céline Cousteau 1982-1983 Piloting Zodiac on the Amazon River 
on Expedition with her father and grandfather

When we watch documentaries—which Céline's grandfather basically invented—we typically spend an hour watching from our comfortable chair, couch or bed, not realizing how painstaking and time consuming the background work was. Céline Cousteau and her team have to travel basically to the middle of nowhere, deep into the Amazonian wilderness to Javari, which seems like a place time almost forgot. Basically, if Jurassic Park was real it would probably be located in Javari which is highlighted in bright green on the map below, and is basically smack-dab in the middle of nowhere.

This next photo seen below which was taken by Carrie Vonderhaar, appears courtesy of Ocean Futures Society, and shows the "Long Commute" to work as we see Director of Photography Matt Ferraro napping, while Céline's brother Fabien Cousteau is contemplating, and we see Céline doing stretching exercises during their 33-hour trip to the Vale do Javari conference at Rio Novo during their father, Jean-Michel Cousteau's 2006-2007 Amazon expedition. 

In 2013 Céline Cousteau returned a third time to the Javari in the Amazon to start filming her own documentary on some of the native tribes of the Amazon and their plight as we see in the photo below.

This interesting documentary will be released soon as Céline and her team are still putting the finishing touches on their documentary.

ABC News recently published this story about Céline Cousteau's upcoming project and also mentioned her  Kickstarter campaign which launched on July 19, 2018. BTW, the Nell Newman Foundation is supporting Céline Cousteau's upcoming documentary named Tribes On The Edge having made a significant donation. 

Nell Newman is Paul Newman's daughter, and if you ever wondered where all those millions of dollars went from the auction of her father's Rolex Daytona, you can rest assured they are being put to excellent use as part of the funds were donated toward the completion of Céline's documentary!

Céline Cousteau is pictured below with her legendary grandfather, Jacque-Yves Cousteau when she was a little girl. After having interviewed Céline I could not help but notice she shares her grandfather's Spirit of Inquiry and Exploration.

Below we see an earlier trailer for Céline Cousteau's upcoming documentary named "Vale do Javari: Tribes on the Edge." Céline wrote an article about this upcoming documentary which is very interesting.

The Amazon River—as seen in the photo below—is the largest river in the world by discharge, and at 4,350 miles in length is filled with mystic surprises which include close to 3000 known species of fish that live in the river. Also, 20% of earths oxygen is generated by the vast Amazon rain-forest in Brazil.

It was both a privilege and absolute pleasure to speak with Céline Cousteau. Céline mentioned a number of other fascinating projects she is working on and I look forward on covering them in the future.

Jean-Michel Cousteau

Leading Ocean Environmentalist

I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking in detail with Jean Michel Cousteau who is the head of Jean-Michel Cousteau is Royalty in the world of exploration as he is the son of the greatest explorer in history, Jacques-Yves Cousteau. He is also Céline & Fabien Cousteau's father. Jean-Michel and I took a stroll down memory lane as we discussed so many different aspects of his history as well as his legendary father's history.

Jean-Michel Cousteau is pictured below in 1989 in Papaua, New Guinea with his father, Jacques-Cousteau aboard the Calypso, and notice he is wearing his Rolex SEA-DWELLER. I asked Jean-Michel what his first recollection was of wearing a Rolex Submariner and he told me it was when he was stationed in Madagascar in 1958 while serving in the French Navy.

The Life Aquatic

In the photo below we see Jean-Michel Cousteau with his father Jacques-Yves, mother Simone Melchior, and brother Philippe-Piere SCUBA diving in the 1940s. Jacques-Yves was one of the pioneers of early SCUBA diving.


Simone Cousteau, the wife and partner of Jacques Cousteau, aboard Calypso in 1960. 
(Credit: National Geographic/Luis Marden)

In the famous family portrait below we see Jacques-Yves with his two sons, Philippe and Jean-Michel Cousteau.

Jean-Michel Cousteau is in the photo below that was inspired by the family portrait above, with his children Fabien and Céline Cousteau. 

Jean-Michel Cousteau is pictured below from a TV documentary SCUBA Diving with his daughter Céline and son Fabien Cousteau.

In this next photo we see Jean-Michel Cousteau with his daughter Céline and son Fabien Cousteau.

In the video below we see Jean-Michel Cousteau with leading marine biologist, Dr. Sylvia Earle. Dr. Earle is also an avid explorer, author, and lecturer. She has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998. If you are not familiar with Dr. Sylvia Earle, you should check out her recent documentary titled Mission Blue, which can be seen on Netflix. Also you can visit Sylvia Eearle's Mission-Blue.Org to learn more about her superb mission.

Fabien Cousteau

Fabien Cousteau is Jean-Michel's son and is pictured below on his grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau's shoulders. 

In the photo below we see Fabien Cousteau with Dr. Sylvia Earle who is a leading marine biologist as well as being a world renowned Rolex brand ambassador. I would say Sylvia Earle is almost like a female version of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

Below is a Ted Talk Fabien Cousteau gave which is amazing!!!

Jean-Michel and I were talking about his career and he mentioned he is an architect by training. He told me his father asked him what he wanted to do after he got out of the mandatory French military service, and he told his father he wanted to design and build cities underneath the ocean, which at the time seemed like a viable possibility, so he ended up going to architectural school. 

Jean-Michel mentioned one of his great lifetime achievements was in designing the predecessor to the Calypso which is named the Alcyone (daughter of the wind), that is a dual turbosail propulsion ship, which is pictured above and below. 

Jean-Micheal also mentioned he designed a Calypso II, which has yet to be built. How cool would it be if the Cousteau family builds the Calypso II and they start making documentaries aboard the ship!?!!

Jacques-Yves Cousteau passed away in 1997 at age 87. According to the 1997 New York Times obituary for Jacques-Yves Cousteau: Jean-Michel at the time is quoted as having said: 

"The work of my father was a hymn to life. On the wall of my office there is a quotation from my father: 'The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist. For man it is to know that and to wonder at it.'"

In the future, I will be publishing a detailed story on my interview with Jean-Michel Cousteau which I believe will put together the final pieces of the Cousteau Rolex history puzzle, but in the meantime enjoy the Ted talk video below:

Jacques-Yves Cousteau

June 11, 1910 — June 25 1997

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who is Jean-Michel's father and Céline Cousteau's grandfather is the greatest explorer that has ever lived—bar none. Not only did Jacques-Yves invent the documentary film, but he won three Academy Awards for Best Documentary making them. 

Jacques-Yves was a true renaissance man as he was a French Naval Officer, ecologist, filmmaker, scientist, innovator, author, photographer, and researcher. He also co-developed the aqua-lung, as well as much of the technology for filming underwater including special lighting and waterproof camera housing.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau was commonly referred to by his friends as J.Y.C., pronounced Jeek. J.Y.C. was a pioneer in marine preservation and was also commonly referred to as 'le Commandant Cousteau', which is 'Captain Cousteau' in English.

I remember when I was a small child, every Sunday night my family would gather in front of the TV set to watch: "The Underwater World Of Jacques Cousteau", which ran from 1968 to 1976 on ABC. On this amazing show Captain Cousteau and his sons would take us on-board his famous Calypso ship, airplane, balloon and helicopter to explore all over the world.

''From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to the Earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free. Buoyed by water, he can fly in any direction—up, down, sideways—by merely flipping his hand. Under water, man becomes an archangel.'' 

—Jaques-Yves Cousteau

The First Rolex Submariner

Pronounced: Suhb-muh-ree-ner

Have you ever wondered how and why Rolex ended up naming the Submariner model? Submariner is most commonly pronounced Suhb-mar-uh-ner, but it's original and proper pronunciation is Suhb-muh-ree-ner. Meaning the watch was designed for a Submarine Captain, NOT a Mariner who was Sub-par. I first recall learning this from NASA Mercury Astronaut and SEALAB Aquanaut, Scott Carpenter, (pictured below) and have been reminded/corrected about this mispronunciation several times by U.S, Navy SEALAB Aquanaut and mission leader, Bob Barth. 

"The Rolex Submariner & Rolex SEA-DWELLER have a cachet that is unmatched by any other watch. The Rolex brand is the most highly respected in my book. The Rolex Submariner was the preferred diving watch for U.S. NAVY SEALAB Divers." 

–Scott Carpenter

When I originally interviewed Scott Carpenter he mentioned he was inspired to become the first Astronaut/Aquanaut by Jacques-Yves Cousteau who he is pictured with below.

Scott Carpenter is pictured below in front of the U.S. Navy SEALAB II Habitat with fellow Aquanauts, and later in this story we will be taking a closer look at the significance of the SEALAB program.

U.S. Navy SEA-LAB Aquanauts: 
Bob Barth, Wilbur Eaton & Scott Carpenter
Team 1 Preparing To Dive Down To 
SEA-LAB 2 Habitat [August 28, 1965]

Below we see a 1967 Rolex Submariner magazine ad which was published during the U.S. Navy SEALAB program. This is the closest vintage magazine ad I am aware of Rolex advertising the Submariner in relation to a Submarine Captain. Notice the text in the ad reads:

"You're looking at the Rolex Submariner. For many years, it's been standard gear for SUBMARINERS, frogmen and all who make their living on the seas."

Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Living Manifestation of 

The Rolex Submariner

It is a fact Jacque-Yves Cousteau worked with Rolex on the original Submariner, which I learned from former Rolex U.S.A. executive, T. Walker Lloyd. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was close friends with Rolex Geneva Director, Rene-Paul Jeanneret. From all my deep research I would argue the Rolex Submariner was inspired by and named after Jacques-Yves Cousteau and here is why:

Before World War II occurred, legendary Swiss Physicist August Piccard began working on his first bathyscaphe design which is pictured below.

The photo below of the French Naval GRS team, shot in 1947 shows Jacques-Yves Cousteau on the far left, Destroyer Quartermaster Georges, Philippe Tailliez, Destroyer Master Pinard, Frederic Dumas and Second Master Morandiere aboard the L'Elie Monnier as they prepare to dispatch the French FNRS2 Bathyscaphe Submersible (pictured above) for Professor Auguste Piccard.

The photo below shows Jacques-Yves Cousteau with Swiss Physicist Auguste Piccard in 1948, in front of the Bathyscaphe F.N.R.S II Submarine which Piccard designed. Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau referred to the The F.N.R.S. II as the "Original Deep-Boat." 

Auguste Piccard & Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1948 
in front of the Bathyscaphe F.N.R.S. II

The Two Jacques

Auguste Piccard decided to leave the F.N.R.S. III project and decided to build his own Submarine which he named The Bathyscaphe Trieste. In September of 1953, Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques Piccard (pictured below) set a new world depth record at 10,392 Feet (3,167 Meters) with their new submersiblePiccard's Bathyscaphe Trieste had a Rolex DEEP-SEA prototype attached to the outside of the submersible which came back up to the surface in perfect working order. 

Jacques Piccard pictured above in 1953 with Rolex DEEP-SEA Special Prototype

It's so ironic when you think about it that two different Jacques were both testing different Rolex prototype diving watches in the Mediterranean in 1953. Jacques-Yves Cousteau with his Submariner and Jacques Piccard with his DEEP-SEA Special...

The photo below shows Jacques Piccard with his father and fellow legendary explorer, Auguste Piccard after they successfully set the all-time depth record in September of 1953. Auguste Piccard is in the center of the photo and he is wearing his trademark Beret, and his son Jacques Piccard is standing behind him, holding his arm. It is fascinating to note Auguste Piccard was 70 years old when this photo was taken in 1953.

The photo below is of the actual 1953 Rolex DEEP-SEA Prototype that was attached to the observation chamber of the Bathyscaphe Trieste which is pictured above. This first super-high resolution version of the 1953 Rolex DEEP-SEA Special is an exclusive photo that appears courtesy of Christies Auction House, who auctioned it in 2005 for around a quarter of a million dollars.

Rolex commemorated the record set in late 1953 by publishing the following Rolex ad in National Geographic in 1954.

Diving Deeper

On February 15, 1954, the F.N.R.S. III dove to 13,290 Feet (4,050 meters) 160 miles off Dakar, Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean, beating Piccard's 1953 record, set by the Trieste, by 900 meters to (the floor of the Mediterranean off Naples, 10,392 feet (3,167 m). 

The F.N.R.S. III Submersible in 1953

Keep in mind they took the F.N.R.S III Submersible down twenty-five times deeper than a standard submarine could go at that time in history.

Return of the Trieste

This record was not broken until Piccard had sold his Trieste Submersible to the U.S. Navy in 1958, and on January 23,  1960, it set the all-time depth record in the Challenger Deep, off the coast of Guam when she dove to 10,911 meters (35,797 ft), in the deepest known part of the Earth's oceans, the Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench near Guam in the Pacific. 

The Challenger Deep

The following diagram offers a fascinating perspective on the Mariana Trench and the Challenger Deep. It is profound to note the Challenger Deep at more than 35,000 feet is deeper than the highest point on earth which is Mt. Everest at just over 29,000 feet.

All Time DEEP-SEA Depth Record 
Trieste Descends To 36,070 Feet
January 23, 1960

The photo below shows the Bathyscaphe Trieste out in the Pacific Ocean as she prepares to set the all-time depth record of 36,070 Feet on January 23, 1960.

And of course the Trieste once again had another Rolex Deep Sea Special prototype attached to the outside of the submersible which came back up to the surface in flawless working order. Rolex produced the AMAZING documentary seen below that tells this incredible story:

The 1960 Rolex DEEP-SEA Special Prototype

The following Rolex Magazine advertisement  appeared in the international version of Life Magazine on October 24, 1960, and it perfectly contextualizes the way Rolex saw this achievement at the time. You can click on the image to make it easier to read the text.

A Rolex DEEP-SEA Special prototype similar to one that was attached to the outside of the Bathyscaphe Trieste in 1960 is pictured below.

Presiden Eisenhower is pictured above congratulating Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh at the White House in Washington D.C.

 As we see in the picture below, President Eisenhower as the first U.S. President to wear a Rolex.

The press release below tells the story of the actual Rolex DEEP-SEA Special Prototype watch, and how it ended up in the Smithsonian Institute.

Return To The

Challenger Deep

This major historical Rolex record has not been broken to this day, but director and explorer James Cameron basically matched it in 2012, and of course his submersible named the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER had a new generation of Rolex DEEP-SEA prototype attached to the outside which came back to the surface in one piece. I covered this amazing event live on Jake's Rolex World as it unfolded out in the south Pacific ocean.


2012 Rolex DEEP SEA Challenge

In this photo from Rolex, we see the two generations of special Rolex DEEP SEA watches that both traveled down to the deepest known part of the ocean, both setting all-time depth records. The first is the 1960 Rolex DEEP SEA SPECIAL which dove down attached to the outside of the U.S. Navy Bathyscaphe Trieste, and the second one also dove down into the Challenger Deep in 2012 attached to James Cameron's DEEPSEA CHALLENGER

Despite the fact it took Rolex 62 years to return to the deepest part of the ocean floor on earth, Rolex remains the undisputed King Of The DEEP...

 The Silent World

Jacques Yves-Cousteau is considered to be the father of Scuba Diving and modern underwater exploration, and he worked with Rolex in the early 1950s to develop the Rolex Submariner as seen on his wrist below in 1953-1954. 

I believe Rolex named the Submariner as an homage to Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was close friends with Rolex Director, Rene-Paul Jeanneret, who he worked with on the development of the Rolex 'Submariner' Diving Watch. I believe Rolex named the Submariner as a tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and I believe "Submariner" was intended to mean, "Mariner who explores below (Sub) the Sea, or pilots a Submarine". 

It is important to also take into consideration in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Submarines were a huge deal. All these amazing Submarine events occurred long before President Eisenhower established NASA in 1958. Captain Cousteau was as close as the world came to a real Buck Rogers in the 21st Century... 

Jacques-Yves appears to have been instrumental in the development of the Rolex Submariner, and Jean-Michel and I discussed the image below taken in (probably in 1953-1954) when his father was testing Rolex Submariner prototypes with his team aboard the Calypso in the Mediterranean.

The close-up photo above of Jacques-Yves Cousteau shows him wearing an early Rolex Submariner with pencil hands that looks like the similar vintage model seen below.

The document below is from the Institute of Submarine Research and I believe it is more likely than not Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his Calypso team of divers were testing Rolex Submariner prototypes in early 1953. I believe this is based upon the fact Cousteau was very close with Dimitri Rebikoff, and in the Silent World Documentary Cousteau and many of his divers were wearing Rolex Submariner models. In the documentary "Becoming Cousteau" JYC specifically says he began filming The Silent World in 1954.

Update on November 28, 2021: I spoke with Jean-Michel Cousteau (Jacques-Yves Cousteau's eldest son) today and asked him: "To the best of your knowledge, what years was the footage in The Silent World shot?" He said, "The majority of The Silent World was shot in 1954, but there was a lot of footage shot in 1953, and even earlier."

That being said, I have heard from other sources some of the footage from The Silent World was shot in 1953. For the sake of historical accuracy, I will point out the Rolex Submariner document above does NOT mention Cousteau, but I am certain in the future we will clarify this potential nexus point, one-way-or-another.

1958 Rolex Submariner Brochure

This 1958 Rolex Submariner brochure features the Reference 6536 and 6538, and the most exciting detail may be on the back page as seen on the back page.

Notice at the end of the last paragraph in the section on the left with white background the second to last words says "The SUBMARINER is a strong and reliable wrist-watch the importance of which has already been recognized by those concerned in sea-going or sub-marine activities." What is significant about sub-marine'? There has always been a debate about whether Submariner was pronounced Submeriner, or Sub-mariner? My take, according to this brochure, is back in 1958 it was pronounced Sub-Marine-ER. Also, on the cover of the brochure, as seen above it says "A watch specially designed for all SUBMARINE and aquatic activities." This would ad further support to the fact the proper name is pronounced Rolex Sub-marine-er, not Sub-marin-er!!!

(Update: Nick Gould sent me a message and pointed out: "Did you noice the brochure shows a 6536 with no depth rating? Also, the brochure says the 6538 was the more heavy duty version. Makes sense as the 6538 has a big crown.")

Dimitri Rebikoff

Dimitri Rebikoff (1921-1997) was a Russian inventor an underwater photography pioneers. Dimitri developed the first underwater electronic flash system in 1947, as well as stereo photo and and film cameras. He also created the worlds first underwater scooter which was named the Torpville. 

After World War II, he attended at the University of Sorbonne in Paris, and then move to Switzerland, to Lausanne where he opened a workshop where he created his first outstanding invention which was named the Colormeter. The Colorimeter measured color/temperature. Rebikoff was very close with Jacques-Yves Cousteau and is pictured below on his Pegasus underwater vehicle he developed in 1953 which was equipped with gyro instrumentation.

"The sea, once it casts its spell, 
holds one in its net of wonder forever." 

—Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Jacques-Yves Cousteau's film, The Silent World won the Academy Award in 1957 for Best Documentary, which is the same year the vintage Rolex Submariner magazine ad seen below is from.

The magazine ad below which prominently features Jacques-Yves Cousteau is from 1958 who at the time as the Chairman of the Board of the new U.S. Divers company which sold the aqua-lungs he co-invented with Emile Gagnan.

Chuck Yeager

Jacques-Yves Cousteau was not alone as being a radical explorer who constantly pushed the envelope. Other men of such stature also chose the Submariner as their tool watch including Chuck Yeager as we see in the 1956 photo below with his Rolex 6538 'Big Crown' Submariner on his wrist.

The Rolex Submariner ad from 1963 follows the aquatic theme as the essence of the Submariner.

U.S. Navy


The Photo below shows the U.S. Naval School of DEEP-SEA DIVERS who also wore Rolex Submariner watches. The man standing third from the left is pioneering saturation diver Bob Barth who went on to  participate in SEALAB I, II & III.

Elvis Presley

The popularity of the Rolex Submariner carried over into popular culture with actors like Elvis Presley as seen below in 1962 on the set of Girls, Girls, Girls wearing his Submariner 'Big Crown' on a leather strap.

James Bond

Sean Connery also wore a Big Crown Rolex Submariner [Reference 6538] in the early James Bond movies like Dr. No which debuted in 1962.

Sean Connery returned in Goldfinger in 1964 still sporting his big crown Submariner as seen in the photos below.

In the 1964 movie Goldfinger, Sean Connery as James Bond wears a Rolex Submariner [Reference 6538] as pictured below, on a Regimental belt strap. 

In Goldfinger Sean Connery is in an early action scene were he is wearing his Submariner over his SCUBA suit as seen below.

Below we see a 1966 Rolex Submariner magazine advertisement that talks about how Rolex came up with the Submariner and how it was designed for seagoing men.

The next Rolex ad seen below is from 1968 and illustrates how focused Rolex was on undersea exploration.

The First SEA-DWELLER's In History

We just learned why the Rolex Submariner was named the Submariner! But where did the Rolex SEA-DWELLER get its name from? You are about to find out!


The French Diving Revolution
Calypso Meets COMEX

Before I came along to set the record straight, there was falsely perpetuated myth that said Rolex had developed the SEA-DWELLER with the French diving company named COMEX. This was not true.

The photo below was taken in Southern France in Fontaine de Vaucluse in 1955 and it shows a young Jacques-Yves Cousteau at 45 years of age standing in front of a much younger Henri-Germain Delauze–at age 26–who would go on to found the revolutionary French diving company, COMEX. At the time Dalauze was a Cousteau team diver.

This image is so profound I decided to crop and zoom it in for you. What makes this image so profound? It is an image of two French revolutionaries. Two men who would forever change the world of diving. 

French Diving Pioneers Jacques-Yves Cousteau & COMEX founder Henri-Germain Delauze in 1955

Jaques-Yves Cousteau co-invented the Aqua-lung which brought SCUBA Diving to life and Henri-Germain Delauze ended up being perhaps the greatest beneficiary of this technology as it evolved into saturation diving which Comex became a major pioneer in. 

Founder Of COMEX, Henri Delauze [1970]

I interviewed Henri-Germain Delauze back in 2009 and he confirmed, it was the U.S. Navy SEALAB program that co-developed the SEA-DWELLER with Rolex—not COMEX. The photo below of Henri-Germain Delauze is from a story I wrote on his career achievements.

Henri-Germain Delauze pictured above in 2009 wearing his trademark Rolex COMEX SEA-DWELLER

Project Conshelf
From Submariner to SEA-DWELLER

In September 1962, Jacques Cousteau immersed his Calypso crew into their most ambitious adventure to date known as the Conshelf Project. The Conshelf project was the brainchild of a U.S. Navy Medical Corps., Captain named Dr. George Bond. Dr. Bond conceived a new method of diving known as the "saturation method" which later became know as "saturation diving."

The photo below was taken in 1968, and it shows U.S. Navy Doctor George Bond being interviewed with his close associate, Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau. In the interview, they were discussing U.S. Navy SEALAB III.

"What is a scientist after all? It is a curious man looking through a keyhole, the keyhole of nature, trying to know what's going on." –Jacques-Yves Cousteau 

Saturation diving created the opportunity for an underwater habitat where divers could live in an underwater house/structure/habitat so they could work on the sea floor, without having to decompress by coming up to the ocean's surface after each dive.

Dr. Bond submitted his plan to build this underwater habitat for saturated divers to the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Navy initially rejected the idea–so Dr. Bond submitted his idea to Jacques Cousteau and his Calypso diving team–and after careful evaluation Cousteau decided to undertake the project.

Conshelf I

Conshelf I [September 1962] Location: Frioul Island, Marseille, France

Conshelf I got underway in September of 1962, and according to Jacques Cousteau, the objective was "Two men living for one week in a small building at a depth of 37 feet and working several hours a day at 65 feet." The Conshelf I structure was essentially a huge drum about the size of an industrial shipping container that was ballasted with an open hatch for the divers to enter and exit the underwater house.

In the photo below we see Conshelf I's barrel shaped habitat being tested for leakage before being submerged for the experiment. I may be wrong, but I think I recognize fellow DEEP-SEA Submariner, Jacques Piccard up on the top deck, leaning back, in the white shirt with dark slacks filming with a camera in his hand. Jean-Michel Cousteau who is Jacques-Yves son mentioned he was close friends with Jacques Piccard.

Jacques-Yves Coustea previously worked with Jacques Piccard on the Bathyscaphe Project, and would work with Piccard again in 1964 on a new floating laboratory nicknamed "Mysterious Island" and again in 1965 from April 13 to May 10 on a geophysical and acoustical mission along the south coast of France. 

It is kind of shocking we have never seen a photo of the two Jacques together, but this may be the first one. Cousteau, of course, is located in the bottom right hand corner of the photo seen above on the deck of the Calypso.

Albert Falco and Claude Wesly of the Calypso diving team (pictured below wearing red caps) swam into history when they became the first "Oceanauts [French]" or "Aquanauts [American]" or "SEA-DWELLERS [ROLEX]" to live or "DWELL" under the SEA. 

In the photo above we see Jacques Cousteau visiting with Falco and Wesly inside the Conshelf I habitat. When I interviewed Jacques-Yves Cousteau's son, Jean-Michel Cousteau recently for this article, he mentioned he also visited Falco and Wesly. I think it is likely Jean-Michel took the photo above.

So not only was Jacques-Yves Cousteau the inspiration for the original Rolex Submariner, but he was also the inspiration for the Rolex SEA-DWELLER as well. Ironically, it was the U.S. Navy SEALAB Aquanaut, Bob Barth who would develop the helium gas escape valve for the SEA-DWELLER in partnership with T. Walker Lloyd and Rolex in Geneva.

My great pal, Jose from and I worked together on creating this amazing poster titled 'The History Of The Rolex SEA-DWELLER: Rolex's Conquest Of The Ocean", which is amazing!! Be sure to right-mouse-click on the poster below and open it in a new window to see all the amazing high-resolution detail. This timeline is also available as a magnificent poster on in the timelines section.

In the photo below taken later in Jacques-Yves Cousteau's life we seen him wearing a Rolex SEA-DWELLER. In my opinion, Jacques-Yves Cousteau was and remains the living personification and embodiment of both the Rolex Submariner and SEA-DWELLER.

''I loved touching water. Physically. Sensually. Water fascinated me.'' —Jacques-Yves Cousteau

A few final thoughts on the subject of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER model. As we learned, Jacques-Yves Cousteau made a significant contribution toward being able to film underwater, which helped spurn on a new genre of science fiction characters including The Creature From The Black Lagoon, as well as Auquaman, and The Man From Atlantis. 

During the 1950s and 1960s many people became fascinated with the idea of men living in water, kind of like fish. The early saturation diving habitats like Conshelf and SEALAB were bold experiments in attempting to return man to the ocean. As a matter of fact, Jacque-Yves Cousteau's son, Jean-Michel told me that he originally wanted to become an architect so he could design underwater cities on the ocean floor. Jean-Micheal quipped, "And we know, for now obvious reasons why that never became a reality, but at the time it seemed like a great idea."

1964 Rolex Cities Under The Sea

In the mid-to-late 1960s it was apparent to everybody, including Rolex, that Rolex owned the world of Aquatic Watches. Rolex was eager to share this rich heritage with the world as we see in the 1964 ad seen below. It is also worth nothing that this ad serves as serious clue in the puzzle of the SEA-DWELLER. 

If we carefully read the conclusion above it number 4, it says "A Rolex takes a long, hard time to create...but it will still serve your son as he keeps appointments in cities under the sea." BINGO!!!! 

You see, back in 1964 the world was a lot bigger and slower. There was no internet or cable TV. People back then were easily fascinated with non-sensical aquatic science-fiction, like The Creature From The Black Lagoon, or The Man From Atlantis, or Aquaman, or even The Bermuda Triangle. The movie Jaws and Star Wars was still more than a decade away. The idea that man might build and occupy underwater colonies seemed very real, and with underwater habitat programs like Jacques-Yves Cousteau's Operation Conshelf, or the U.S. Navy SEALAB, it all seem real. Even Rolex bought into it, and that is where the name "SEA-DWELLER" comes from, and means.

Rolex was so inspired by Conshelf and SEALAB they named their deeper diving capable Submariner variant, The SEA-DWELLER. Yes. Even Rolex at the time thought it was likely men would live in the sea. Ultimately Rolex SEA-DWELLER models would become popular tool watches for saturation divers from underwater construction firms like COMEX whose divers would work deep underwater building things like oil rigs. So if you have ever wondered how the Rolex SEA-DWELLER got its name, now you know.

We All Live In A Yellow Submarine

Jacques-Yves Cousteau's Calypso was extremely well equipped with innovative technology to capture the mysteries of the ocean including the SP-350 diving saucer submarine Captain Cousteau designed, which is pictured below as it is prepared for work in the Aegean Sea.

On thing is for certain and that is the fact Jacques-Yves Cousteau was a pioneer in the world of Submarine technology, as we see below in a patent he filed in 1965 for his two man submarine.

“To Live on the Land We Must Learn from the Sea” 

–John Denver (Calypso)

Richard Hyman took the photo below onboard the Calypso when they were filming in the Belize Barrier Reef and John Denver gave an impromptu concert for Captain Cousteau and his wife Simone.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau
Rolex Day-Date

Jacques-Yves Cousteau not only wore a Rolex Submariner and SEA-DWELLER but also wore a white gold Rolex Day-Date on a leather strap which can be seen on his wrist in the photo below.

In the photo below we see Jacques-Yves Cousteau wearing two watches. On his right wrist he is wearing a Omega Marine Chronometer and on his left wrist he is wearing his Rolex Day-Date on a leather strap. 

Why is Captain Cousteau wearing two watches at the same time? I assume it would be to keep track of time in two different time zones.

In the close up image below we see the telltale characteristics of a Rolex Day-Date with the cyclops magnifier lens on the crystal as well as the classic Rolex Oyster shape.


Simone Melchior Cousteau
Rolex Ladies Datejust

Jacques-Yves is pictured below with his first wife, Simone Melchior Cousteau aboard the Calypso. Simone who was commonly referred to as  “La Bergère”, which when translated from French to English means: "The Shepherdess." In American English we might say she was like the den mother of the Calypso. Simone spent more time aboard the Calypso than anybody else, and loved it. Simone was also renowned for being extremely feminine and always being a perfect lady. As we see in the photo below, she wore a ladies Rolex Datejust.

In the photo below we see Dr. Sylvia Earle embracing Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Dr. Sylvia Earle has been close with the Cousteau family for many years.

Philippe Cousteau

Jacques-Yves Cousteau is pictured below with his two sons, Jean-Michel, and Philippe in 1953 onboard the Calypso.

In this next image also taken in 1954 onboard the Calypso by Harold Edgerton we see Jacques-Yves with his son Philippe.

Philippe Cousteau is pictured below onboard the Calypso with his Father Jacques Cousteau in 1978.

In this next photo we see Philippe-Pierre Cousteau after he grew a serious beard, and it was taken during a Jacques Cousteau documentary named "Voyage To The End Of The World", and notice he is wearing his trademark Rolex SEA-DWELLER in stainless steel with his trademark red Cousteau beanie.

In the next image below we again see Philippe wearing his Rolex SEA-DWELLER.

Philippe Cousteau was Jacques-Yves Cousteau's younger son, and in the photo below we see Philippe suiting up for a dive during SEALAB III. It is important to note that Philippe Cousteau and his father, Jacques Cousteau were always in close contact with the members of SEALAB, as Operation Conshelf and SEALAB ran concurrently. Philippe Cousteau was invited by the U.S. Navy to be an adviser and cinematographer for SEALAB III.

The letter below is from Jacques-Yves Cousteau to William Culpepper regarding the design of the SEALAB II habitat with recommendations from J.Y.C.

The drawing below shows Jaques-Yves Cousteau's recommendation for the layout of the SEALAB II habitat. Special thanks to my right hand man, Jose from for providing these historically significant images which he got when he traveled to Panama City in Florida to the SEALAB Museum.

This next vintage Rolex ad is from 1974 and features Dr. Joe Macinnis who was a SEALAB III diver along with Philippe Cousteau.

Philippe-Piere Couteau is pictured below with his father Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and Jacques seems to be admiring his sons Rolex SEA-DWELLER.

Philippe Cousteau's Double Red Patent-Pending SEA-DWELLER is pictured below in a recent photo from an Antiquorum Auction. The caseback on this watch has an interior date stamp from the fourth quarter of 1967 that reads IV.67, with the serial number of 1,602,920. Philippe Cousteau's Rolex SEA-DWELLER sold on September 30, 2014 for $183,750 @ Antiquorum Auction House in New York. It is believed, based upon its serial number, this watch likely began its life as a Single Red-Sea-Dweller that ended up getting its dial replaced with a double red device dial.

Above photo of Philippe Cousteau appears courtesy of John H Harding ©1971

Philippe-Piere Cousteau was quite an explorer and risk taker, and he loved being an airplane pilot. We see Philippe-Piere below in 1978 piloting his Calypso Seaplane above Lake Victoria in Uganda.

Tragically, on June 28, 1979 Philippe was attempting to land the Cousteau amphibious Flying Calypso airplane boat (seen above and below) and when he attempted to land the seaplane, the nose wheel came down by mistake while landing and caused the Flying Calypso to flip and crash in the Tagus River in Portugal resulting in his death. His father Jacques-Yves Cousteau was completely devastated by the supreme tragedy as was the rest of his family.

Philippe Cousteau Jr.

At the time of Philippe Cousteau's death, his American wife, Jan, was seven months pregnant with their son Philippe Cousteau Jr. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was devastated by his son Philippe's accidental death. The photo below was taken several years later and we see Jacques-Yves with his grandchildren, Alexandra and Philippe Cousteau Jr.

Philippe Cousteau Jr., followed in his father and grandfather's footsteps and said:

"I'll never be able to fill my father's or grandfather's shoes, but hopefully I can stand on their shoulders and reach farther." –Philippe Cousteau Jr.

In the recent photo above, we see Philippe Cousteau Jr., wearing his Rolex SEA-DWELLER. Philippe Cousteau Jr, is Jacques-Yves Cousteau's grandson, and he received his Rolex SEA-DWELLER as a gift from his mother, Jan. In the video below we see Phillips Cousteau giving a Ted Talk which is fascinating.

Alexandra Cousteau 

Alexandra Cousteau is Philippe Cousteau Jr's sister. Alexandra is a strong ocean advocate and can be seen below in the video talking about an expedition she was on for Oceana.

Cousteau Legacy

Jacques-Yves Cousteau had two boys with his first wife, Simone Melchior and in the photo below we see the next two generations of descendants. In the photo below we Jean-Michel Cousteau standing next to his son Fabien Cousteau, and daughter Céline Cousteau, surrounded by his nephew Philippe Cousteau Jr., and his niece, Alexandra Cousteau. All four Cousteau grandchildren are amazing and have all followed in their grandfather's footsteps. 

Pierre-Yves Cousteau

Jacques-Yves Cousteau was married a second time to Francine Cousteau and they had two children, Pierre-Yves Cousteau, and Diane Cousteau. 

Diane, Pierre-Yves, diving with father Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Jacques-Yves daughter Diana Cousteau, who is Pierre-Yves sister seems to have disappeared completely from the public limelight and has not been photographed for many years, which explains why I don't cover her in this story. Pierre-Yves Cousteau on the other hand is a public figure and is very similar to his father in many ways and is pictured below. 

In particular he is a bold ocean environmentalist and he is pictured below in a recent photo on the Greek island of Santorini.

Back in 2015 I made this mock-up poster as an homage to the Cousteau family and Rolex. In other words even though this might look like an official Rolex poster it is not as I made it for fun...

I have to say that when I first started writing this article I planned to just talk about my interviews with Céline and her father, Jean-Michel Cousteau, but as you can see I got really carried away :-)

I am glad I dug deeper to not only explore the significance of Jacques-Yves Cousteau Rolex history, but also how both of his sons were involved in the SEA-DWELLER history.

Also, Jacques-Yves youngest son, Pierre-Yves seems like an amazing man. Not to mention all of Jacques-Yves Cousteau's grandchildren are AMAZING!!!! I strongly believe the world needs Jacques-Yves Cousteau even more today than at any time in the past. Since he is not here, his sons Jean-Michel and Pierre-Yves, as well as his four grandchildren, Céline, Fabien, Alexandra and Philippe Jr, are all doing an amazing job of following in Jacques-Yves footsteps...

As we just learned, Jacques-Yves Cousteau was the living personification of both the Submariner and SEA-DWELLER. But Why? How did this happen? Was in happenstance or was it by design? I believe it was serendipitous for several reasons. Let's get in the Rolex time machine and go back to the roaring twenties to find out why.

Hans Wilsdorf
1927 Rolex Oyster Introduction Brochure 

Rolex has always been an aquatic brand. The next two photos are from a Rolex Oyster brochure and the first image depicts The Founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf observing the Rolex advertorial he placed in the London Daily Mail on November 24th, 1927. I included a copy of the original Daily Mail ad below.

This next illustration depicts Mercedes Gleitze as she emerges from the English channel. In the past, I wrote a detailed article about Merceds Gleitze swimming the English Channel.

1927 Rolex Oyster Introduction Advertorial

Italian Art-Deco Rolex Mermaid Ad

Rolex watches have always been very popular in Italy, as we see from this amazing Italian Mermaid Ad. I don't have an exact date for this, but it looks like it is from the later 1930s. I LOVE the timeless mermaid illustration and the art-deco stylized fish are so cool looking!!! It is worth noting most current Rolex watches still maintain a lot of timeless art-deco design language, which is one of the main ingredients in Rolex's secret-design-sauce...

Posting the image above made me think about this other Italian Rolex Mermaid image I have posted in the past.

1929 Rolex Oyster Ad

This is a fascinating Rolex magazine ad from 1929, which means Rolex had obviously already introduced their revolutionary "Oyster" waterproof case, but had not yet introduced their "Perpetual" automatic movement, which came along in 1931. I am always fascinated when I find and publish another aquatic themed vintage Rolex ad which completes another piece of the Rolex history puzzle!

1986 Rolex Dolphin Submariner Ad

 Rolex has maintained aquatic themed advertising since they invented the worlds first waterproof watch in 1927, which is named the 'Oyster'. The life aquatic is remains as much a part of Rolex's DNA as does Jacques-Yves Cousteau.