8 things you didn’t know about Rolex
A pioneer of luxury timepieces, Rolex was established in 1905 by a Briton and a German – Alfred Davis and his brother-in-law Hans Wilsdorf.
The global brand, which produces over 800,00 watches every year, is now worth a staggering £7 billion. According to Forbes, Rolex ranked 78th in the world’s most valuable brands list of 2019.
1. Rolex was started in London – not Switzerland
Contrary to what people think, the luxury brand was started in London, not Geneva. The company moved to Switzerland following the First World War, as it was a good tax haven at the time compared to a recovering post-war Britain.
2. The name means nothing – it just sounds expensive
The founders wanted a name that sounded expensive but was easy for people to pronounce, whatever language they spoke. It needed to look good but simple on the dial of a watch.
Davies decided it would need to have five letters and wrote down several combinations until he found one that worked. The name ‘Rolex’ was coined as he rode through London’s Cheapside on a bus.
3. The first waterproof wristwatch was created by Rolex
While other watchmakers lay claim to creating the first diving watches, it was Rolex who came up with the first fully waterproof watch in 1926. The Rolex Oyster was also dust-proof with both screw-down caseback and crown lined with rubber. Today, the term ‘oyster’ still identifies waterproofness among Rolex models including the Day Date and Daytona.
In 1927, English Mercedes Gleitze made an attempt to swim the English Channel and was gifted a Rolex Oyster to do it. She wore it round her neck and when she got into trouble, icy cold and half-conscious at 10 hours in, the inside of her Rolex was as dry as a bone.
4. Rolex can endure some tough climates
Rolex watches survived Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s expedition up Mount Everest back in 1953. They never lost a second. The watch given to Hillary was never purchased commercially. Rolex was one of the sponsors of the 1953 trip that year and part of this included providing Hillary with this watch to wear during the climb and then to return to Rolex for extensive testing after the descent.
Wilsdorf even had a Rolex specially made called the ‘DeepDea’ which was attached to a vessel and sent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the North Pacific Ocean – the deepest spot above the Earth’s crust – by the US Navy. Even during descent and extreme pressure, the watch, which was attached to the side, maintained time.
5. Rolex is a charity
Rolex is currently owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, which finds the largest scholarship endowment in Europe. Rolex is not owned by an individual and so the trustees of the foundation oversee how profits are distributed.
According to Swiss law, the brand is not obligated to declare whether any one has ever received a donation from them. They also receive major tax cuts due to being a charity.
6. Every watch is handmade
Watches are all handmade despite rolling out thousands each year. Each one is pressure-tested to ensure they meet high standards. Some watches take as long as a year to get to retailers.
Each watch goes through 15 days and nights of testing to ensure precision and accuracy.
7. The most expensive retail-Rolex ever made is worth £371,000
Cristiano Ronaldo – now the fifth all-time top scorer in football history – wears his GMT master Ice with a casual t-shirt but the timepiece is one of the most expensive ever produced by Rolex.
The watch, set with 30 carats of diamonds on the dial, bezel and bracelet, had an eye-watering price tag of £371,000 when it was first released to the market in 2018.
8. Rolex has a long-term partnership with Wimbledon
The partnership between Rolex and tennis dates back to 1978 when Rolex became Official Timekeeper of The Championships, Wimbledon. This marked the beginning of a privileged association between two partners driven by the pursuit of excellence.
The brand now pays tennis legend Roger Federer an incredible £11,500,000 a year for his endorsement.
Fancy a Rolex of your own?
Here at Luxe Watches, our team of specialists can help you choose the perfect model of Rolex. Whether you require a new or pre-worn watch, we have men’s and ladies’ timepieces in stock here in Essex and online, so contact us today. If you’d like help to sell your Rolex, we promise to get the best market price for it.