Rolex is without a doubt the image of high class and quality time piece machinery in the world. The brand has become a symbol of riches with the price for a single Rolex watch start from hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The beginning of the revolutionary brand of high class Rolex watches is directly linked to the vision of the founder, Hans Wilsdorf. He founded a company in London in 1905 that operated particularly in timepiece distribution. He decided to create reliable timepieces that would be small enough to wear on the wrist and still be precise in a time where such seemed unattainable. They were manufactured by Bienne a Swiss company that made watches.
The name for the company originated in 1908 wen Hans Wilsdorf started to search for a name that would be easy to pronounce in any language and also be short enough not to obstruct the dial movements in his watches. It is said that he claimed a genie whispered the name ‘Rolex’ in his ear during the time he was deliberating hundreds of options for the perfect name.
Chronometric precision is the testing that authenticates the precision of watches. Rolex worked very hard towards chronometric precision until they were successful. In 1910 Rolex was granted a certificate of chronometric precision in the official watch Rating Centre is Bienne, Switzerland. And again in 1914 Rolex got an ‘A” class award by the Kew Observatory in Great Britain for chronometric precision that was only issued to marine chronometers until then. Rolex was known as the watch with precision from then on. Rolex was moved to Geneva in 1919 and registered in 1920.
After establishing to the public that wristwatches could be consistent with qualities of quality and precision Rolex went ahead to be the first watchmakers to manufacture a dust free and waterproof wristwatch.
The ‘Rolex Oyster’ was born in the year 1926 with a sealed case to allow best working environment for the mechanics under water. The uniqueness of the watch was proved the next year when English swimmer, Mercedes Gleitze, swan about 10 hours over the English Channel wearing a Rolex Oyster watch. The amazing watch remained in perfect shape after. Rolex took the opportunity to publish a full page advertisement in the Daily Mail about the event and the success of their product.
Like any excellent innovators Rolex did not stop improving on their vision and in 1931 Rolex introduced the first mechanism with a motor that wound itself continuously and didn’t need manual rewinding, it was self-winding. This self-winding motor is now used in automatic watches today.
Rolex oyster went through many tests that proved its quality even further. The first expedition to fly over the Everest were all equipped with oysters, Sir Malcom Campbell the “king of speed” wore a Rolex watch for his record breaking racing event in Utah in 1935. In sports, motor racing, aviation and expeditions the watch was tested and was found proficient in many dimensions.
Rolex watch was the first to have a date adjust feature, meaning the watch had a date dial. After focusing on men from the beginning the Rolex watch was eventually made available for women a decade later.
In the early 50’s Rolex went into creating ‘watches for achievers’ their purpose was for professional work like scientific exploration, deep sea diving, mountain climbing and aviation. In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay wore Rolex Oyster Perpetuals in Sir John Hunt’s expedition as they reached the summit of Mount Everest.
The Oyster Perpetual Explorer, inspired by human adventure, was launched the same year to celebrate the successful climb of the Everest. The Submariner, the first 100m depth divers watch and allows divers to read their immersion, was also created the same year. The Submariner was designed to go as deep as 66o feet under the sea and it worked very well on land as well.
The GMT-Master was created at the beginning of the jet age when intercontinental travel grew in popularity and pilots needed to know the time in different time zones. The watch was equipped with a two-tone bezel that helped differentiate between daytime and nighttime hours and it became the official watch for pilots of different airlines at the time.
Rolex released the Oyster Perpetual Milgauss in 1956. Designed to meet the needs of scientists because of its capabilities to withstand magnetic fields of up to 1000 gauss, this was possible because of the shield protecting the movement. The two ferromagnetic alloys used were to cover the movement and the Oyster case. The European Organization for Nuclear research (CERN) tested the Oyster Perpetual Milgauss and testified of its effectiveness and this gave the watch its reputation.
The same year was the unveiling of the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date. It was the first watch to exhibit the full date including the week and was created only in 18k gold. The Lady-Dateadjust was the first ladies’ chronometer watch made in 1957 with the elegance of a small size and same functionality.
Rolex began testing for the release of the third version of waterproof watches and came up with the deep Sea Special. In 1960 the watch was attached to the Trieste that went a depth of 37,800 and the watch as the bathyscaphe.
In 1963 the Cosmograph Daytona was designed to be a tool for endurance racers. The watch was waterproof with a tachymetric scale on the bezel so they can calculate average speed.
The Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller was made in 1967 to meet the needs of professional divers. Oyster Perpetual Explorer II was made in 1971 specially for polar explorers and speleologists. It had 24-hour hand to help tell day from night. In 1978 Rolex released the Sa-Dweller waterproof watch that could go up to 4,00 feet deep under the sea.
Rolex pioneered the use of 904L steel, which offers anti-corrosion and high sheen finish, for their cases.
From 2000 until date Rolex has continued to lead with its excellent watches and innovations like the 4130 chronograph caliber movement in 2000, the Cerachrom bezel and Parachrom hairspring in 2005, Oyster perpetual Yatch-Master II in 2007, the Rolex Deepsea in 2008, the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller 2012 and Rolex’s partnership with Formula 1 in 2013.
The company has doubtless been successful and still works to improve the standards it has set since inception.