11 August, 2018

The History of Rolex

Sometimes brands don't need to advertise because they are spoken about so much we do all the work for them! Companies with this superpower include Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Ferrari.

Ever since their inception, Rolex took on the almighty task of making wristwatches a viable accessory.

Their endeavour has enabled them to forge an enviable history which took them to the pinnacle of watchmaking. 

In celebration of their influence on the world of watchmaking, delve into their history to understand why Rolex is regarded as one of the finest watchmakers in the world.

The Problem with Watches

Rolex can trace their origins back to London 1905 where a 24-year-old Hans Wildorf had an ambition buoyed by his dreams.

Hans dreamed of a watch being worn on the wrist. However, these dreams came at a time where wristwatches were known for not being precise. 

Despite this reality, Hans looked past it and foresaw that wristwatches could be more than just being elegant but also reliable. He then embarked on an endeavour to realise this dream.

Usually, brands are named after their founders such as Thomas Burberry, Michael Kors, Edouard Heuer, Léon Breitling and more. But why Rolex?

The Origin of Rolex's Name

When coming up with the name Rolex, Hans decided on a criterion quite specific:

  • Easy to say.
  • Short.
  • Can be remembered in any language.
  • Looks good on the dial and watch movement.

This complex criterion helped Hans to decide on the name Rolex.

Dreams Come True

5 years after creating Rolex, Hans had already started to make breakthroughs in realising his dream as he received a certificate from the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne, Switzerland. This certificate recognised the chronometric precision of Rolex watches.

The reliability of Rolex was strengthened further when in 1914, the Kew Observatory awarded Rolex with a Class A precision certificate which is normally reserved for Marine Chronometers. 

Despite these major awards, Hans did not just stop here. Let's take a look at some of their most famous watches.

Famous Rolex Watches

From this moment, Rolex was able to create an array of watches which have defined their brand and also the vision of their founder. Here we outline the key moments of the Rolex story.

Rolex Datejust

Introduced in 1945, the DateJust became the first self-winding watch to show the date on the dial. Featured on a small window, this complication became the talk of the industry and the flagship model for the Oyster range. 

Trivia - The Jubilee bracelet debuted on the Datejust.

It wasn't until 1957 that Rolex made a bespoke Lady Datejust for women. They repeated the same feat in 1992 with the Pearlmaster.

Rolex GMT-Master

Released in 1955, the GMT-Master was intended for pilots. However, it became widely popular due to its aesthetic looks and versatility because it can display different time zones.

The bezels on the GMT-Master have attracted numerous nicknames over time. For example, a blue and black dial is known as the GMT-Master Batman. You can read more about Rolex Nicknames in our article 'How Do Rolex Watches Get Nicknames?'

Rolex Day-Date

Just when the date wasn't enough, Rolex exceeded themselves by adding the day as well. 

Released in 1956, the Day-Date set a new standard in watchmaking because it was the first watch to display the day in full and the date.

Trivia - this watch proved popular among world leaders and was known as the President watch.

Rolex Daytona

It will be hard to find someone who hasn't heard of this watch. It's so famous it doesn't need an introduction. Why? A Rolex Daytona owned by Paul Newman sold for £17.8m in an auction last year. It featured in our countdown of The Most Expensive Watches Sold in Auction - 2017.

Introduced in 1963, the Rolex Daytona became known as the racing man's watch and associated with the Daytona International Speedway. 

The watch features a chronograph complication which enables the wearer to use the watch as a timer. This proved popular for timing multiple laps.

Rolex Yacht-Master

Forging a bond between Rolex and sailing since the 50s, the Yacht-Master has an elegant blend of functionality and style with sophisticated technology to ensure wearers tame the seas!

Trivia - Rolex sponsor the famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Final Words

Rolex has endowed us with an array of iconic timepieces which enabled them to forge a relationship with extreme sports, flying, racing and more with elegance and reliability.

Their sense of flair and ingenuity continues to be illustrated with an array of new offerings. A special edition Rolex Daytona adorned with Everose gold has taken Rolex to another level. Read our Review: Rolex Rainbow Daytona in Everose Gold.

If you would like to see the Rolex watches in our auctions then check out our collection which ranges from the Daytona to Datejust!

What's your favourite Rolex? Hit the share button and let us know!

Despite the famous waiting lists for a Rolex, there's a wide array available through our auctions. Go check it out by hitting the button below!  

Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Rolex
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Rolex
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Rolex
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Rolex
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Rolex
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Rolex
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Rolex