Rolex, Сream for the cream. A quick look at 110 years of brand’s history
Swiss Rolex is a well-known symbol of luxurious lifestyle and a “must-have” for all the members of cream society. Producing over 2,00 exclusive timepieces a day this company could easily be named as a king of watchmaking. SUISSEPIC had a short look into history of the brand.
Over 110 years the company has been producing high-tech movements and watches which are highly appreciated for their design and quality. A great number of celebrities, businessmen and politicians wear them as a constant accessory. We found some examples of outstanding connections. In 1947 Sir Winston Churchill was gifted Rolex‘s 100,000th Chronometer, a rose-gold Date-Just. In 1963 Cuban leader Fidel Castro was visiting Soviet Union’s Kremlin with two Rolex watches on his left hand. The pictures were spread worldwide.
The history of Rolex began in London in 1905 at the meeting of Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis. They decided to create a company on timepiece distribution. It was named “Wilsdorf and Davis Ltd”. Brothers started importing Swiss watch movements produced by Hermann Aegler, placing them into Dennison cases.
In 1908 they decided to register a watchmaking company in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. Rolex was chosen as a name. Wilsdorf and Davis wanted their watches to be easily said and remembered in any language. Another requirement was to look good on watch movements and dials.
After a few years of selling pocket and purse timepieces, company assembled its first wristwatches.
In 1910 Rolex was the first to receive Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision for its wristwatch, granted by the Official Watch Rating Center in Bienne. In 1914 a Rolex wristwatch became the first watch to be awarded a Precision Certificate, Class A (Kew Observatory). Before that, only marine chronometers received the class “A” precision certificate.
In 1919 Rolex‘s headquarters was moved from London to Geneva, Switzerland. And since then it is still there. The name of the company was changed to Rolex Watch Company. Later it was renamed again to Montres Rolex, SA and then finally to Rolex, SA.
The Oyster became one of the most important Rolex innovations. Its production started in 1926. To prove water resistance a young British swimmer, Mercedes Gleitze, wore a Rolex Oyster watch crossing the English Channel in 1927. The action continued over 10 hours and the watch was in a perfect condition after.
In 1931 Rolex patented the first self-winding watch with a Perpetual rotor, a mechanism with a superb accuracy. Malcolm Campbell wore a Rolex during his speed record attempts in Bluebird, as did the first pilots ever to fly to the top of Mount Everest. During the World War II, Rolex Oyster Perpetuals became very popular among the pilots of Royal Air Force.
In 1945, Rolex introduced the Date-Just the first wristwatch with an automatically changing date on the dial.
In the early 1950s, Rolex started manufacturing professional watches for divers, pilots, explorers and mountain climbers. At that time some iconic timepieces were also launched. In 1953 Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest with a Rolex Oyster Perpetual. That year later Rolex presented its Submariner. It was the first timepiece with water-resistance up to 100 meters. In 1962 it was filmed as a wristwatch of Sean Connery in James Bond.
In 1954 Rolex created the first timepiece to display 2-time zones under the name Rolex GMT Master, especially for “Pan Am” pilots to simplify time-reading on transcontinental flights.
Rolex Day Date, which displayed both day and date on dial, was born in 1956. This timepiece became very popular after former US president Dwight D. Eisenhower began wearing it.
In 1960 Swiss watchmaker released its legendary Cosmograph Daytona. It was named after the most famous motor racing circuit in the United States. The chronograph was waterproof and allowed to calculate average speed as the race progresses. This event marked the beginning of the brand’s close connection with the autosport.
During early 1970s, Rolex produced over 350,000 watches a year and participated in the development of an original movement of quartz watch. In 2007 Rolex released Yacht-Master II, the first watch to feature a mechanically programmable countdown memory.
Rolex’s engineers and designers continue improving the brand’s timepieces combining new high-end mechanisms with luxurious materials to create these authentic looks based on traditional quality. Today company produces roughly 1 million watches per year and continues working upon crème perception of the brand. Hence famous sportsmen, Hollywood actors promote Rolex as a brand. Among Rolex family there are Orlando Blum, Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, Jennifer Aniston, Sharon Stone, Roger Federer and many-many others.