Though Hawkes has been in touch with Branson for a while, he said he thinks the magnate's interest in the subs was piqued when he saw a version of the Merlin atop the yacht of venture capitalist Tom Perkins. (Hawkes also built a submersible for the late adventurer Steven Fosset.)
The model owned by Perkins, the Super Falcon, was Hawke's first vessel capable of sub-sea flight and seats two. But Graham said Branson will receive the slightly lighter Merlin, as his yacht couldn't handle the Super Falcon's weight.
A spokeswoman for Virgin Limited Edition said Branson will be the first to test it out when the "Necker Nymph" arrives in the Caribbean.
"He will be the first to try it," said Charlotte Tidball. After the vessel arrives, a team will be trained to operate it and, she added, it should be ready for hire by the end of March.
Though several people have inquired about the Nymph, there hasn't been a booking yet, Tidball said.
"I don't think it will be long before there is," she said.