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Daniel Bourn
posted : September 30, 2007 Post subject: Janus IV
i appreciate most of you are not watch collectors but i have an interest in old dive watches and the history of diving. I hope this will be of interest

From 1968 to 1977 Comex conducted a series of experimental dives in conjunction with the French Navy, to a variety of depths ranging from 150m, to the famous 501m world record.

Specific details of these dives can be found via a PDF file on the Comex website at :-

The following post is a result of ongoing email correspondance that i have had over the past 6 months with one of the Janus IV divers; John McKenna.

John was one of 8 divers selected for the pre world record dive to 460m .

(Please refer to attached newspaper article and page 11 of the COMEX.pdf document above for further confirmation.)

Of the 8 divers used in the Janus IV Phase A dives, 6 were then selected (based on age, fitness and weight) for the final Janus IV Phase B dive to 501m, with only 2 making the actual dive (1 Bellman, 1 Diver).

The newspaper article below 'The Heroes of JANUS', describes the feat and pictures the 8 divers, as follows (Clockwise from left to right)

Jaques Verpeaux
Patrick Roude
Gerard Vial
Louis Schneider
Phillip Clottas (supervisor)
Emile Sevellec
John McKenna
Phillipe Jeantot
Vito Lentin


The article names John Mckenna as the oldest member of the team at 38 years old.


I finally met with John for the first time this week, and spent several very enjoyable hours speaking with him about his career and the Janus IV dives that he participated in.

I also managed to obtain the watch he was given on selection for the JANUS IV dive, which was subsequently engraved to commemorate the achievement.

The watch (pictured below) has clearly seen better days, although unsurprising, considering its constant use as a dive watch from 1976 to 1993 (+ during this time it was never serviced).

It is a Rolex Double Red Sea Dweller model ref. 1665 DRSD with a 4 million serial matching numbers and case back inscription of

DEC 1976

The watch was presented to the divers on initial selection and engraved after the dives.

Its current condition is also rather secondary in comparison to its originality and significance, i intend simply clean the movement and remove the barnacle that has managed to attach itself to the case side, and then leave it to be enjoyed in its current state.

John McKenna’s Personal Biog & Scans of the watch are included below :-


Born in 1938, John McKenna started diving for universal divers in 1964 (unqualified)

Whilst working offshore as a barge engineer on a jet barge in 1972, during force 9 gale a passenger fell overboard; John followed the passenger into sea and rescued him without the aid of any diving equipment or fins.
As an acknowledgement for his bravery and skill, the diving superintendent of the barge at that time offered John further diving work with him, which then led to his eventual employment with Comex, Aberdeen.

In 1976 Comex Marseille were recruiting for a French Speaking British diver for some experimental dives that they were conducting.

In spite of his age John applied and passed all of the required selection tests with flying colours (Having recently won his green beret at the Royal Marines Commando Traning Centre in Limpston) and so was selected for the Janus IV Phase A experiment, successfully diving to 460m.

John McKenna continued working as a diver until the age of 55, before taking a well earned pension. He then emigrated with his family to Hatyai in Thailand, where he worked as English teacher at the Hatyai University.

He now spends his time between his family’s home in Thailand and his native Liverpool.




Daniel Bourn

posted : January 20, 2008 Post subject: Janus IV
my stepfather was one of the divers who recoverd the gold from the eniburgh. i beleive the janus IV was the dive platform. does anyone know if i con find some footage or pictures from the dive ? his name is andrew sherlock. he has passed away.

posted : January 23, 2008 Post subject: Janus IV
The DSV that salvaged the gold from the 'Edinburgh' was the 'stephaniturm' which was a Stolt/Seaway boat, now owned by some dodgy Borneo diving co. there is a few books on the subject, notably by keith Jessop, the supervisor who instigated the search, and either Ric Wharton or Malcom Williams who were the MD's of 2W's, the diving company involved. I remember a television documentary on the Edinburgh being shown at the underwater centre in fort william when i did my diving course in '93. Maybe they would still have a copy? Wouldn't mind a copy myself.

posted : May 8, 2014 Post subject: Janus IV
Does anybody still read this?? I'm johns daughter, and if like to have my say if anyone's interested 💁

posted : May 22, 2014 Post subject: Janus IV
Yeah people still read this, and are interessed in what you have to say..

posted : June 15, 2014 Post subject: Janus IV
Hello D, I'm also interested in your response.

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