Rolex is one of the most highly celebrated watch brands worldwide. The timepieces are so classic in fact, that their overall aesthetic has hardly changed over the long and rich history of the brand. So what makes these timepieces so coveted? Our friends and Rolex experts from the luxury watch platform CHRONEXT clear this question right up with 10 facts that you need to know.
1. Rolex is over 100 years old
In 1905, a German entrepreneur named Hans Wilsdorf founded the now renowned Rolex company. Prior to his Rolex days, Wilsdorf worked for a Swiss watch manufacturer in La Chaux-de-Fonds. He dreamt of providing quality timepieces that were both reliable and precise. In 1905, Wilsdorf founded his watch distribution company in London and in 1908, he made his dream a reality when he created the Rolex brand.
2. Rolex stands for “horlogerie exquise” or “rolling export”
The origin of the Rolex name has been subject to many theories. Some watch experts claim that the name Rolex is a play on “horlogerie exquise”, which is French for exquisite watchmaking. Others have claimed that the name is an acronym for “rolling export”. One thing that we can all agree upon however is the fact that Hans Wilsdorf wanted his watches to bear a name that was short, simple, and easy to pronounce in every language. The ingenious founder has been quoted as saying: “I tried combining the letters of the alphabet in every possible way. This gave me some hundred names, but none of them felt quite right. One morning, while riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus along Cheapside in the City of London, a genie whispered ‘Rolex’ in my ear.”
3. Rolex created the first dependable waterproof watch
For those of you who don’t already know, Mercedes Gleitze was the first English woman to swim the English Channel. Unfortunately, her success was brought into question when another woman named Dorothy Cochrane Logan announced that she had swum across the English Channel in a shorter time than Gleitze. This was, of course, a fabrication but nonetheless brought Gleitze’s claim into question. Gleitze agreed to complete the swim a second time and this is when Hans Wilsdorf, being the brilliant marketing genius that he was, saw a golden opportunity to promote his latest creation: the Rolex Oyster. Wilsdorf equipped Gleitze with the timepiece, which she wore around her neck during the swim. Although she, unfortunately, did not complete this swim, the golden Rolex secured around her neck successfully endured the harsh conditions of a long and grueling 10-hour swim, making it the first durable and reliable waterproof timepiece.
4. The coveted Rolex Milsub was standard equipment for the British Ministry of Defence
One of the most highly collectable military watches known to the watch loving universe is the Rolex Military Submariner, or the more commonly coined, Milsub. The timepiece was strictly designed, manufactured, and issued to the military, and is thus, a very rare timepiece to come by today. Unlike the Submariners that were made for civilians, the Milsub was designed with unique features to meet the needs of the British Military of Defence (MOD). The historic timepiece features a larger bezel, allowing for larger gripping power, along with solid bars that are fitted with a reliable nylon strap. Interestingly, the dials of these timepieces are adorned with a “T”, indicating that the luminescent material incorporated into the indices of the watch are coated with tritium, which is radioactive and extremely harmful in large quantities.
5. Rolex was the first watch to summit Mount Everest
In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and his expedition partner Tenzing Norgay completed the long and arduous ascent to the peak of Mount Everest. During the mission, both daring adventurists wore an Oyster Perpetual prototype around their wrists – a model which we know of today as the Rolex Explorer. The watches were not gifts to the explorers, but rather instruments that were meant to be worn and later returned to Rolex for research purposes.
6. A Rolex timepiece has descended to the deepest point of the ocean
On March 26th, 2012, the critically acclaimed Canadian filmmaker and deep-sea explorer James Cameron descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench with the help of Rolex. Cameron descended 10,908 metres inside a submersible called the Deepsea Challenger. Attached to this submersible, on its robotic manipulator arm, was a Rolex timepiece called the Deepsea Challenger, which made it through the extreme conditions of the expedition fully functional and unscathed.
7. All Rolex watches are COSC certified
The French organisation Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) was established in 1973 in order to test the precision of Swiss made movements. And indeed, it should come as no surprise that Rolex is one of the largest COSC clients. The company has all of its timepieces COSC certified, meaning that they meet the highest level of performance and accuracy in timekeeping.
8. The Rolex Day-Date is exclusively created from precious materials
The Rolex Day-Date was originally introduced in 1956. Today, the timepiece is synonymous with power and influence. Many of you watch enthusiasts may already know that the timepiece has been famously coined “The President”, thanks to its presence around the wrists of many worldwide leaders. Suitably, the Rolex Day-Date is only created in precious materials such as 18 carat gold or platinum.
9. Rolex equips all of its current timepieces with an in-house developed calibre
Today, Rolex is one of the most impressive vertically integrated watchmakers worldwide. Having said that, it should come as no surprise that they equip all of the watches from their current collections with in-house produced movements. The Rolex Calibre 3255, for example, is tested to meet criteria twice as precise as the benchmark set out for officially certified chronometers.
10. Rolex is the most famous watch brand worldwide
It goes without saying that Rolex is the leading name in luxury watchmaking thanks to its quality, precision, and steadfast innovation in the field of timekeeping. In fact, Interbrand has ranked Rolex the number one Swiss watchmaking brand. Rolex timepieces are worn by those who appreciate the true quality and accuracy of the watches, along with those who have a strong appreciation for the brand’s countless contributions to the world of mechanical watches.