Watch Smart

15 things that will surprise you about Rolex

Did you know, for example, that Rolex sent watches to prisoners of war during WW2, allowing them to pay after the war? Read more about this and other fascinating Rolex facts below.

By

ONE

Rolex, perhaps the world’s most famous Swiss watch company, was founded by a German, Hans Wildorf, and a Brit, Alfred Davis, in London.

Wilsdorf & Davis Nameplate, 1905

Two

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.

THREE

No one knows how many Rolexes are made every year. Estimates are 800,000+ watches a year.

FOUR

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.

The origin of the Rolex Name, Rolex Original Certificate, 1908

FIVE

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.

SIX

The watch sold at auction for the highest price, $17.8 million, was a Rolex Daytona once owned by Paul Newman (October 2017).

Paul Newman wearing his Rolex Daytona

SEVEN

The Rolex Oyster case was the world’s first waterproof and dustproof case in 1926.

Rolex Oyster Case, Daily Mail, 1927

EIGHT

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 Chroma Light Luminescence

NINE

Rolex has its own foundry where the brand works its own gold.

Rolex Foundry ©Rolex:Jean-Daniel Meyer

TEN

All watches Rolex makes today are automatic watches. However, they did make quartz in the past.

Rolex movement 3285
©Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer

ELEVEN

Rolex has a sister brand, named Tudor, introduced in 1946.

TWELVE

Rolex was there on the wrist of the team that conquered Everest for the very first time, in 1953.

Everest Expedition, 1953

THIRTEEN

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 10th green of The Presidents Cup 2017

FOURTEEN

The Day Wheel found on the famous Day-Date model is available in 26 languages.

Rolex Day Date 40 – 950 Platinum

FIFTEEN

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.

Photo: The Pan Am Historical Foundation

 

 

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