The Rolex brand is arguably the most prestigious of all luxury watches brands, and the history dates back to 1905 when the German watchmaker Hans Wilsdorf with funding from his English brother-in-law Alfred Davis began a business partnership.
The pair would work together in London, England and form a partnership of “Wilsdorf & Davis ltd.” The initial products that were created by the pair were not wristwatches, as a prevailing thought at the time was that a wristwatch was a thing that a gentleman would wear. The pair actually imported watch components from the Swiss watchmaker Hermann Aegler and then they were assembled in London and branded in London with ‘W&D’ hallmarks.
In 1908 Wilsdorf opened an office in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland to register the Rolex name and to create watches. A significant achievement for Rolex was the distinction of being the first wristwatch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, granted by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne, Switzerland. This enhanced the brands reputation as a leader in the field and moved on to create more products including wristwatches.
In 1914 a Rolex wristwatch was awarded a class “A” precision certificate from the Kew Observatory, and this award was typically reserved for marine chronometers, and this shaped the future destiny of Rolex who began to focus on products for the marine market.
1919 marks the year that Rolex moved its operations to Geneva, Switzerland. They purchased a stake in the Aegler Company and Wilsdorf also purchased the remaining shares from Davis, and the company was named Montres Rolex S.A.
Rolex made history in 1926 by creating the first ever waterproof and dustproof watch. The watch was named the “Oyster.”
The following year a wonderful test to demonstrate the quality of the watch was undertaken by a young female swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze, and she had swum across the English Channel with a Rolex watch around her neck, and when she emerged over 10 hours later the watch still performed perfectly. This proved to be an exceptional way for the brand to gain public relations awareness and since then the brand has associated with influential celebrities and events.
The brand has collaborated with influential figures such as Sir Malcolm Campbell, Sir Edmund Hilary, Jackie Stewart, Arnold Palmer, and James Cameron to name a few.
In 1931 Rolex invented and patented the world’s first perpetual movement system that is still present in watches to this very day.
The brand has an iconic status across the globe and is widely regarded as one of the most valuable brand names in the world right now. This is an astonishing achievement when a great deal of the company’s culture was created over 100 years ago.
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