23 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Rolex
Rolex is probably the most eminent luxury watch brand around the globe. This global recognition stems from success in a number of fields, from early timekeeping firsts and important innovations, to association with James Bond and Paul Newman. Despite this, there are a lot of things about the company that isn’t known by many. This is mainly down to the company’s secrecy when it comes to the inner workings.
1. The Oyster Case was the first waterproof case made for a wristwatch, created by Rolex in 1926. This is all thanks to its patented system of screwing down the bezel, case back and crown to the middle case. All watches are guaranteed to be waterproof down to a depth of 100 metres.
2. The winding crown is actually made up of 10 different parts and is screwed hermetically onto the watchcase.
3. The Perpetual movement is hidden away and invisible to the wearer. Only Rolex-certified watchmakers are able to access it with special tools.
4. On their Roman numeral dials, Rolex still use IIII rather than IV. IIII is known as the “Clockmaker’s four”. There is not a single reason that has been found to explain this.
5. Rolex have never released information about how many watches produced a year, however it is estimated to be between 800,000 to a million.
6. Most steel watches are made from a type of stainless steel called 316L, whereas the steel in Rolex is made from 904L steel. No one else uses this steel as far as I know. If you ever compare a steel Rolex with another steel watch, you will be able to see it looks different. The 904L steel is more expensive and much more complicated to machine, which is why it seems exclusive to Rolex. It is said to be rust and corrosion resistant.
7. All movements created by Rolex are hand assembled. It is genuinely hard to believe due to the sheer volume of watches made. But this attention to detail and quest for perfection really is emphasized by the quality in the product.
8. Rolex have an in-house foundry that makes all of their gold. Rolex are the only watchmakers to make their own gold, or even have an in-house foundry.
9. The security employed by Rolex is akin to something you’d see in a James Bond film. They have bars at their foundry that weigh in at just over $1,000,000 worth of Everose gold. Rolex are serious about security, and you can’t really blame them for it too.
10. All dive watches are individually tested in pressurized tanks on site. All Oyster case watches are tested thoroughly for water resistance.
11. Rolex employ a team of gemologists to ensure the highest quality of gemstones in their products. The watchmaker sets its standards of rare gems and precious metals that it buys from suppliers at an astronomical level. The gemologist department has the job of buying, testing, arranging and setting diamonds and other precious stones in a variety of models.
12. It takes about a year to make just one Rolex watch according to an advert Rolex released long ago. As far-fetched as it may sound, it is true.
13. The company seems more set on evolution as opposed to revolution. Simply, Rolex would rather focus on making their own models better than adapting what they do to the latest trends and markets. This is reinforced by the amount of II models it releases, e.g Yacht-Master II, Datejust II etc. There is definitely a look Rolex has associated itself with, this could be why the company has done so well and continues to be such an iconic brand.
14. Impressively, Rolex set all of their hour markers by hand. The majority of the time, other rival companies use machines, however Rolex have realized that the human eye is better trained to spot mistakes.
15. The “Day Wheel” found on the Day-Date models is available in the following 26 languages: English, German, Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Spanish, Basque, Catalan, Ethiopian, Finnish, French, Greek, Hebrew, Dutch, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Moroccan, Norwegian, Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish and Turkish.
16. Rolex say you can make your watch run a few seconds fast or slow by the way you leave the watch at night. They say if you leave the watch’s dial face up at night, it can cause the watch to gain up to a few seconds per day. On the other hand, if you were to leave the watch face down, it could cause the watch to lose a few seconds a day.
17. Rolex have four sites in Switzerland where they employ more than 6,000 members of staff.
18. Rolex created the first wristwatch with an automatically changing date on the dial in 1945 – the Rolex Datejust
19. In 1956, Rolex created the first wristwatch with an automatic changing day and date on the dial – Rolex Day-Date in 1956
20. Rolex is the single largest luxury watch company, retailing in over 100 countries and is estimated to produce 2,000 pieces per day.
21. The most expensive Rolex sold for $1.16 million. It was a 1942 Rolex Chronograph, of which only 12 were made. It was originally valued at around $680 thousand, but it sold for over $1.1 million at Christie’s auction. The watch itself features 17 jewels and pink gold Arabic and baton numerals.
22. Even though Rolex is indeed a Swiss Company, it was founded in London by a German and a Brit. Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis originally started by putting movements into cases for jewelers under the pseudonym “Wilsdorf and Davis”.
23. Nobody knows what Rolex actually means. There’s a story that the name comes from the French for exquisite clockwork (horlogerie exquise, where the H is silent). Neither the company nor the founders have ever commented on this, however one of the founders have admitted the name was picked because it was short and looked good on a watch face, and could be pronounced in any language.