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Rolex and National Geographic

Perpetual Planet

Together Rolex and the National Geographic Society are supporting scientific research in some of the planet’s most extreme environments to illuminate new insights into the very systems that support life on Earth.

Assisting key individuals and organizations such as National Geographic to help find solutions to environmental challenges forms part of a commitment Rolex has made to preserving the environment through an initiative called Perpetual Planet. Alongside National Geographic, it embraces oceanographer Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue initiative and the Rolex Awards for Enterprise.

A long-standing relationship

Rolex’s partnership with National Geographic was forged in 1954, in the wake of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, whose expedition was equipped with Oyster Perpetual chronometers.

Exploration is in the DNA of Rolex. It has shaped our timepieces and imbued their design since the founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf, first began testing them under the most extreme conditions of use in the 1930s. Since then, Oyster Perpetual watches have aided explorers from the abyssal ocean to soaring peaks, from untrodden jungle to scorching desert, from the poles to the deepest caverns.

National Geographic has invested in bold people and transformative ideas more than 130 years, pushing the boundaries of exploration to increase understanding of our world and generate solutions for a healthy, more sustainable future for generations to come.

United by exploration

A shared spirit of discovery has drawn Rolex and National Geographic into a closer association over the years.

Scientists from National Geographic Society have served as members of the Rolex Awards jury. And today we support some of the world’s boldest and most visionary adventurers: no fewer than 16 Laureates of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise have also been National Geographic Explorers or recipients of grants.

Johan Reinhard, for example, won a Rolex Award in 1987 for his project to preserve the patrimony of the Andean people through high-altitude cultural anthropology, and became a National Geographic Explorer in 1999. More recently, Erika Cuéllar, selected as a Rolex Laureate in 2012, became a National Geographic Emerging Explorer the following year. A conservation biologist, she trains local people to protect the extraordinary biodiversity of the Gran Chaco, one of South America’s last truly wild environments.

Rolex and National Geographic also have long alliances with leading ocean explorers Sylvia Earle, Don Walsh and James Cameron (both of whom have explored the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, the deepest part of the ocean) and underwater photographer Brian Skerry.

Now, through Rolex’s support for The National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Expeditions, we share our experience, resources and our ideals in what may prove our most critical mission yet – a five-year endeavour to document the changes taking place in the Earth’s most extreme, remote and imperfectly understood environments.

The National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Expeditions

Through a series of expeditions we will study three of the Earth’s most vital and extreme environments – mountains, rainforests and the oceans. The goal is to place cutting-edge technology in some of the world’s most inaccessible and least-observed regions, monitor how human activity elsewhere is changing them – and how this may affect us all.

Of equal importance to our shared vision is the development of solutions to any adverse changes we may detect. Our partnership will seek proposals from the world’s most adventurous scientists and experts in these isolated regions.

Earth’s water towers

Lungs of the planet

Earth’s thermostat

Charting change at the top

For example, a key challenge for the future of humanity is to understand the changes now taking place in the world’s mountain “water towers”, the places where water collects and gradually flows to communities downstream. Glaciers typically fuel this cycle on mountains, particularly in the Hindu-Kush Himalaya where they provide water resources for more than a billion people in the region. The National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition, which began in April 2019, focused on better understanding the impacts of climate change on the glaciers of the Himalaya and what that could mean for communities downstream.

The National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Tupungato Volcano Expedition

In 2021, as part of The National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Expeditions, National Geographic has led an expedition to the Chilean volcano of Tupungato in the Andes where it installed the highest weather station in the southern and western hemispheres, with the support of Rolex.

Accompanied by the Oyster Perpetual Explorer II, the essential tool watch for exploration, the team of experts put in place a weather station on Tupungato’s summit and also investigated South America’s most vulnerable water tower, which critically supplies water to more than five million people in Chile’s capital of Santiago. It follows on from the success of the 2019 The National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition that resulted in the world’s highest weather station being installed in the Himalayas.

The data collected from the weather stations will be used to examine the impact of climate change on one of our most fragile environments, for weather modelling and water resource management. Through these expeditions, National Geographic, a key partner of Rolex’s Perpetual Planet initiative, researches the health and status of high-mountain environments to fill a critical knowledge gap.

A planet in balance

Of the project, the President and CEO of the National Geographic Society Tracy R. Wolstencroft says: “Together with our partners at Rolex, we will harness the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to reveal critical insights about our changing world, advance understanding, and scale up solutions toward achieving a planet in balance.”

Both Rolex and National Geographic have long drawn inspiration from the remote places of our world, the marvels they hold – and from the courage, skill and tenacity which it takes to reach them. In Perpetual Planet we unite all those attributes and seek to serve humanity, and the Earth itself, through the insights the explorers and scientists will gather.

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Perpetual Planet