Life and Times of a Horolo-holic Here at The Watch Review Site we would like to welcome our latest contributor to the team, Dieter Schanzer whose everyday life as a Chartered Surveyor led to an alter ego as a Timepiece Consultant. His enthusiasm and drive is surpassed only by his knowledge and love for […]
Rolex Watch Reviews & News
Company Type: Private
Founded London, England, UK (1905)
Founder(s) Hans Wilsdorf, Alfred Davis
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Key people Gian Riccardo Marini (CEO)
Rolex SA is a Swiss watchmaking manufacturer of high-quality, luxury wristwatches. Rolex watches are popularly regarded as status symbols and BusinessWeek magazine ranks Rolex No.71 on its 2007 annual list of the 100 most valuable global brands. Rolex is also the largest single luxury watch brand, producing about 2,000 watches per day, with estimated revenues of around US$3 billion (£1.75) (CHF3.02 billion) (2003 figures).
In 1905 Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis founded “Wilsdorf and Davis” in London. Their main business at the time was importing Hermann Aegler’s Swiss movements to England and placing them in quality watch cases made by Dennison and others. These early wristwatches were sold to jewellers, who then put their own names on the dial. The earliest watches from Wilsdorf and Davis were usually hallmarked “W&D” inside the caseback.
In 1908 Wilsdorf registered the trademark “Rolex” and opened an office in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The company name “Rolex” was registered on 15 November 1915. The book The Best of Time: Rolex Wristwatches: An Unauthorized History by Jeffrey P. Hess and James Dowling says that the name was just made up. One story, never confirmed by Wilsdorf, is that the name came from the French phrase horlogerie exquise, meaning “exquisite clockwork” or as a contraction of “horological excellence”. Wilsdorf was said to want his watch brand’s name to be easily pronounceable in any language. He also thought that the name “Rolex” was onomatopoeic, sounding like a watch being wound. It is easily pronounceable in many languages and, as all letters have the same size, allows to be written symmetrically. It was also short enough to fit on the face of a watch.
In 1914 Kew Observatory awarded a Rolex watch a Class A precision certificate, a distinction which was normally awarded exclusively to marine chronometers.
In 1919 Wilsdorf left England due to wartime taxes levied on luxury imports as well as export duties on the silver and gold used for the watch cases driving costs too high and moved the company to Geneva, Switzerland where it was established as the Rolex Watch Company. Its name was later changed to Montres Rolex, SA and finally Rolex, SA. Upon the death of his wife in 1944, Wilsdorf established the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation in which he left all of his Rolex shares, making sure that some of the company’s income would go to charity.
The company is still owned by a private trust and shares are not traded on any stock exchange.
Among the company’s innovations are:
• The first waterproof wristwatch “Oyster”, 1923
• The first wristwatch with an automatically changing date on the dial (Rolex Datejust ref.4467, 1945
• The first wristwatch with an automatically changing day and date on the dial (Rolex Day-Date)
• The first wristwatch case waterproof to 100 m (330 ft) (Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner ref.6204, 1953)
• The first wristwatch to show two time zones at once (Rolex GMT Master ref.6542, 1954)
• The first watchmaker to earn chronometer certification for a wristwatch
How to Collect Rolex with Eric Ku By Meehna Goldsmith of www.watchmatchmaker.com & Christies Watch Blog – Longitude Its a big, big, watch world out there–and I’m just talking about Rolex right now. Arguably the most successful watch brand on the planet, they supply a taste for every craving. The budding collector can put together a few thousand bucks and […]
A matter of taste; a unique Rolex Day-Date Written by Martin Green If you have ever read the amazing stories of the “One thousand and one nights”, you are probably also familiar with Ali Baba and how he found a hidden treasure cave. Well, when you lay eyes on this unique Rolex Day-Date you will […]
Mike Mellia – The Latest Watch Photographer in Town As we all know Photography is big news at the moment, and in horology circles Watch Photography is becoming more and more important, Photographers are all turning their hand to it, but only a few have the eye and inginuaty to get it right. In Mike […]
Rolex & National Geographic Congratulate James Cameron on successfully completing The DeepSea Challenge. Further to our report on the Rolex Deepsea Challenge we can report that James cameron has succesfully completed the challenge and travelled to 6.8 miles down into the deep…. James is the first person on this earth to ever do this solo […]
Rolex – The DeepSea Challenge Watch Written by D Constant for The Watch Review Site 20th March 2012 On viewing this video and following the link, this deep sea challenge is some feet pardon the pun…. Did you know, That??? “Twelve men have walked on the surface of the moon and maybe 500 have traveled […]
Written by: Martin Green 15th March 2012 Basel 2012 is a wrap! The new models have been introduced and very soon it is time to see how they are going to perform at the box-office. Sometimes it is very difficult to figure out what will be hot and what will be….not, but of course we […]
A crown for the wrist By Michael Karam on March 05, 2012 The perception and prestige of Explorers, Submariners and Air Kings Ask anyone on the street what he or she thinks the world’s most luxurious watch brand is, and they will probably say Rolex. They’d be wrong. But perception is everything, and the timepiece […]