Since 1905 Rolex has been the pioneer of luxury watchmaking. Its legacy is based on ground breaking innovations and extensive researches meant to create lasting timepieces that are modern, fashionable and functional even decades after their debut. A century of Rolex has brought important contributions to the horological world such as the introduction of the first waterproofed wrist watch, the development of the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism and exploratory achievements both in the deepest and highest points of our planet. Today, the brand is a symbol for excellence and subtle elegance.
The history of this remarkable company started in London, England in 1905 when Alfred Davis and Hans Wilsdorf founded the firm Wilsdorf and Davis. In 1915, the name changed into Rolex Watch Company and in 1919, the watch shop moved to Geneva, Switzerland. The name continued to evolve over the years into Montres Rolex SA and finally into Rolex SA. Today, Rolex SA and its subsidiary Montres Tudor SA is a world leading manufacturer that designs, produces, distributes and services luxury watches for an elite clientele. In 2014, the company has been ranked by Forbes as the 72th most powerful brand in the world. Rolex manufactures about 2,000 watches per day and earns about $7-$8 billion per year. The company’s ownership belongs to Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, a family trust that isn’t required to pay corporate taxes.
Rolex has a reputation as status symbol and for almost a century has been the main presence at some of the most important sport events like sailing, golf, equestrian tournaments and motor sports. The brand isn’t seen just as a sponsor, but more as a partner who has long sustained the popularity, innovations and evolutions of these famous competitions.
One of the key factors of its success consists in the continuous improvements brought to its amazing wristwatches. In 1926, Rolex introduced the first waterproof Oyster watch; in 1945, the first timepiece with a date that changes automatically named DateJust; in 1953, the first wristwatch water resistant to 100 meters called Submariner; in 1954, the first watch to display two time zones on the dial known as the GMT Master; in 1956, the first model with a day and date that change automatically named DayDate and in 1910, it became the first watchmaker to receive a chronometer certification. Another exceptional innovation presented by Rolex was the first self-winding wristwatch launched in 1932 that had an inside mechanism that charged the watch using the movement of the wearer’s arm. This ensured a more reliable time keeping for the wristwatch.
Even though the Submariner is the iconic diver’s wristwatch, Rolex has created another diving model that offers even more amazing water resistance performances. This watch is called the “DeepSea” and it submerged at a depth of 11,000 meters while being attached to the Trieste submariner when it went to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The expedition was led by Jacques Piccard.
Rolex collections are easy recognizable due to their unique design and distinctive functional qualities. Every line is designed and produced to serve the needs of specific niches of customers, from enthusiasts of motor racing and aviation to divers and polar explorers. The first Rolex models were the Rolex Submariner launched in 1953 and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Sea Dweller. These were manufactured for deep sea diving. The Explorer was unveiled in 1953 and the Explorer II in 1971, both meant for mountain and polar explorers. In 1954 the Rolex GMT Master was developed for aviators and globetrotters. The Daytona is the tribute to Rolex’s connections with motor racing, the Yacht-Master is meant for sailing fans, the Air King is the least expensive Oyster Perpetual watch, the Milgauss is resistant to high magnetic fields, the DateJust and DayDate display calendar functions on the dial. There is also the Cellini line which is their dressy collection.
Nowadays the brand and all its timepieces are considered ultimate luxury icon. Wearing a Rolex watch on your wrist is a statement of wealth, distinction and elegance. There’s really no other wristwatch out there that can match its fame and heritage. Rolex’s legacy is based on sustained innovations that have enriched the watch industry for over a century.