History of Rolex
No watch brand is less in need of an introduction than Rolex. Founded in 1905, Rolex is the brainchild of Hans Wilsdorf, who had the vision to see a watch worn on the wrist. At the time, wristwatches were not very precise nor very common. To convince his customers that a wristwatch could be reliable, he equipped his watches with tiny, extremely precise movements manufactured in Switzerland.
Precision and the quality of his wristwatches were of utmost importance to Wilsdorf. His relentless pursuit of chronometric precision quickly led to success. In 1910, a Rolex watch became the first wristwatch to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision. By 1914 Rolex had also scooped up the class “A” precision certificate, a recognition that had previously only been bestowed upon marine chronometers. Rolex moved to Geneva in 1919, and the brand Montres Rolex S.A. was registered in 1920.
The Rolex Oyster watch was launched in 1926 and was the first-ever waterproof and dustproof wristwatch. It featured a hermetically sealed case, which was a revolution in the watch industry at the time. Rolex was the first to put it on the wrist of, as we know them today, influencers. A young swimmer Mercedes Gleitze swam across the English Channel wearing a Rolex Oyster. After over 10 hours in the water, the watch remained in perfect working order. Upon her success, Rolex took out a full-page ad in the Daily Mail touting her and their achievement, marking the birth of the testimonial ad.
Rolex came up with an ingenious way to test their watches while at the same time ensuring a global showcase. Following the success of the Mercedes Gleitze swim across the English Channel, they equipped the first expedition to fly over Everest with Rolex Oysters. A full-page ad was also dedicated to the success of the team’s mission and the team’s satisfaction with the performance of their Rolex wristwatches. A Rolex watch was on Sir Malcolm Campbell’s wrist, one of the fastest drivers in the world, when he achieved a speed of over 300 miles per hour in 1935.
In 1931 Rolex invented the world’s first automatic, or as it is also known, self-winding movement. By incorporating a perpetual rotor, the watch could wind itself with the movement of the wrist. A real watchmaking breakthrough that is at the heart of every modern automatic watch movement today.
In the early 1950s, Rolex evolved to manufacturing watches for professionals or tool watches as they are known today, which does more than just telling the time. The watches were for professional activities like mountaineering, scuba diving, scientific expeditions, and aviation.
Rolex has been about precision since its launch in 1905. So much so that in 2015 they redefined their Superlative Chronometer certification to surpass the current watchmaking norms and standards. All Rolex watches come with the certification and a five-year international guarantee.