Rolex is one of the most famous luxury watchmakers in the world, and their reputation is such that they are often the first name that comes to mind when you think of luxury timepieces.
Originally founded in London in 1905, the company was named Wilsdorf & Davis, after its founders, and the name Rolex was registered only for the watches. At that time, they were importing Swiss mechanisms made by Hermann Aegler and placing them in cases made by English designers. They moved to Geneva, Switzerland, after World War I, and in 1915, became Rolex Watch Co.
The name Rolex was chosen because it was easy to pronounce in all languages, showing that Wilsdorf and Davis wanted to see Rolex watches for sale all over the world. They also liked that the word sounded like the noise of a watch being wound up.
In the beginning, the mission of the company was to improve upon what was already available, and their first international victory came with their Oyster wristwatch, released in 1926. Using a patent purchased from another designer, Rolex created the first wristwatch that was reliably water-and-dust proof using a screw-down crown and advertised this by submerging working pieces in aquariums, in places where they were available to buy.
Things Going Swimmingly
The Oyster had several other high-profile adverts, too. One was fixed to the side of Trieste, the vessel that went to the bottom of the Marianna Trench, and upon return, was both intact and recorded as having kept perfect time for the entire journey. A year later, in 1927, British swimmer Mercedes Gleitze, who was the first Rolex ambassador, swam the English Channel with an Oyster around her neck, further cementing the relationship between the Rolex brand and real water-resistant products.
The combination of luxury and accuracy made Rolex very popular, especially among those who lived in and around water. To sailors, swimmers, and other professional water sports players, the precision that was offered even at depth was invaluable. To the rest of the population, the opulent materials and design were more than enough, and it didn’t take long for Rolex to become a globally known brand.
Every achievement spurred the brand on to push further, and their designers were instrumental in creating several different types of mechanisms to power watches over the years, including quartz watches and rotor watches, which use rotating weights to power the watch by the swing of the wearer’s arm.
How is a Rolex Watch Made?
Today, Rolex has 3 main branches of watches – Oyster Perpetual, Professional, and Cellini, with Cellini being the dress watch selection. Most Rolex watches are made using either stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold, or rose gold, depending on their purpose. Many designs are available with diamonds inlaid.
Although the Rolex brand is much counterfeited, every true Rolex made since 1926 has had a unique serial number. There are other identifying markers that easily distinguish the fakes, which are often made with the cheapest materials and offer nothing like the accuracy or water resistance of the genuine Rolex watch.