Rolex, perhaps the world’s most famous Swiss watch company, was founded by a German, Hans Wildorf, and a Brit, Alfred Davis, in London.
Rolex is owned by the Hans Wildorf Foundation and is not a private company, but is registered as a charity in Switzerland. There are no shareholders.
No one knows how many Rolexes are made every year. Estimates are 800,000+ watches a year.
The name Rolex doesn’t mean anything in any language. It was created by co-founder Hans Wilsdorf because it is short and easy to pronounce in just about any language.
Hans Wildorf and Rolex supplied watches to Allied prisoners of war during World War II, allowing them to pay when the Allies won the war. After the end of the war, every single one of them paid for their watch. These watches are obviously very sought after at auction, especially when they come with the original letter sent by Hans Wilsdorf to the prisoner.
The watch sold at auction for the highest price, $17.8 million, was a Rolex Daytona once owned by Paul Newman (October 2017).
The Rolex Oyster case was the world’s first waterproof and dustproof case in 1926.
In the beginning, Rolex used radioactive radium and tritium to provide luminescence. In 1998, Rolex switched to LumiNova and then to Super-LumiNova in 2000 and Chroma Light in 2008.
Rolex has its own foundry where the brand works its own gold.
All watches Rolex makes today are automatic watches. However, they did make quartz in the past.
Rolex has a sister brand, named Tudor, introduced in 1946.
Rolex was there on the wrist of the team that conquered Everest for the very first time, in 1953.
Rolex is an official sponsor of some of the biggest events in tennis (US Open, Wimbledon), golf (US Open, Masters, the Open Championship), equestrianism (the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Royal Windsor Horse Show) and auto racing (Goodwood, Daytona, etc.).
The Day Wheel found on the famous Day-Date model is available in 26 languages.
Rolex made the very first watch that displayed two times zones in 1954. The Rolex GMT- Master Reference 6542 was a special request from Pan Am for its pilots, who needed reliable watches that could show more than one time zone at the same time.