Rolex is founded by Hans Wilsdorf who, at the age of 24 in 1905, founded a company in London specialising in the distribution of timepieces. Wristwatches weren’t very precise at the time, but Wilsdorf dreamed of making them both reliable and elegant. To make them reliable he equipped them with very small and precise movements created by a watchmaking company in Schwitzerland.
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Hans Wilsdorf came up with the name in 1908 as he wanted to give his watches a name that was easy to remember but which also looked good on watches.
In 1910 a Rolex watch was the first wristwatch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision – making Wilsdorf’s dream of a precise wristwatch come true. Rolex has also since 1914 been synonymous with precision as a Rolex wristwatch was rewarded with a class “A” precision certificate which up until that point only had been reserved for marine chronometers.
Rolex is the company behind the first waterproof wristwatch - the Oyster. At the time the Oyster was described as “too complicated”, “too fragile” and “ill-adapted”, but Wilsdorf stayed true to his vision and finished the watch and the blueprint for all future Rolex watches – precise, robust and able to withstand all conditions. The Oyster was launched and patented in 1926 and has since spurred the Oyster Perpetual Collection – an Oyster watch with a Perpetual rotor.
The Oyster has, since finding its definitive form in the early 1940s, gradually evolved into a collection of watches with new functions and innovative technologies. Today the collections consists of more than 14 ranges including the Classic watches – Datejust, Day-Date and Sky-Dweller – and Professional watches – Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master II.
Rolex has, as a company, played a massive role in developing tests and protocols to guarantee reliability and robustness of every timepiece produced. These tests include testing the battery, so it stays reliable through both “everyday” shocks like clapping and “accidental shocks” like being dropped. The colors are tested via aging tests, so the color of the dial won’t change as the watch is worn in the sun and the metal bracelets are tested, so they don’t scratch where they’re connected.
The polish of a watch is one of the most telling stages in the making of a Rolex watch as it gives the metal surfaces of the watch the perfect sheen and smoothness. To be able to become a polisher – now known as a termineur, a finisher – one must undergo a three-year apprentice ship in order to learn the trade, the techniques, get to know the tools and materials and gain the ability to implement the principles.
A Rolex watch pass through a lot of hands from start to finish, and these hands belong to watchmakers, engineers, designers and more so you’re sure, you’re getting the best product out there.