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The History of Rolex in the Development of Wristwatches

May 18th, 2020
history of rolex

Rolex is a brand whose name reiterates beyond the boundaries of the luxury watchmaking industry.

The term “Rolex” is today synonymous with the ultimate luxury, class, quality and precision.

Ever since Hans Wilsdorf founded it in 1905, the brand transformed the synopsis of the wristwatch industry with its major watchmaking innovations.

Over the years, Rolex watches accompanied the wrists of several pioneers, athletes, explorers and divers, conquering both land and sea.

Rolex is indeed recognised and cherished for its consistent pursuit of eminence, absolute precision, and metamorphic innovations.

The Origination

The young entrepreneur Hans Wilsdorf at the age of 24, founded a watch company in 1905, along with his brother-in-law Alfred Davis.

However, the company initially named as “Wilsdorf and Davis” specialised in the distribution of watches to the jewellers.

Eventually, some earlier timepieces produced often came with the engraving “W&D” on within the case-back.

Interestingly, Hans Wilsdorf started to dream of wristwatches. Now:

The fact is that wristwatches were not popular or precise during the dawn of the 20th century.

  • However, Wilsdorf anticipated that wristwatches would turn to be sophisticated, as well as durable.
  • At the time, a Swiss watch-manufacturing company in Bienne produced precise, small movements.

And Wilsdorf began equipping his resolute timepieces with these movements for convincing the public of their reliability.

Formation of the Iconic Brand & Its Innovations

  • 1908

The year 1908 was significant for the brand. Hans Wilsdorf filed the name “Rolex” as a trademark.

So, why is Rolex called Rolex? Or how did the term Rolex originate?

The legend says that Wilsdorf wanted to give its timepieces a short and easy-to-pronounce name.

  • Moreover, the name should look good on the watch’s dial and movement.
  • Thus, he tried to combine the alphabets in every possible way.
  • Although it gave hundred of names, Wilsdorf didn’t like any of them.

However, Wilsdorf finally chose the word “Rolex” because it also resonates like a timepiece being wound.

He said that he was riding one morning along the Cheapside in the City of London on a horse-drawn omnibus. At that time, a genie whispered the name “Rolex” in his ear.

  • 1910

Hans Wilsdorf had am unabated quest for absolute chronometric precision. Thus, the brand first focused on the movement’s quality.

In 1910, a Rolex watch acquired the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision. It was the world’s ever first wristwatch to receive the certificate from the Official Watch Rating Centre, Bienne.

  • 1914

The Kew Observatory in Great Britain awarded a Class “A” Precision Certificate to a Rolex watch in 1914.

However, this certificate was exclusively offered to marine chronometers.

From that date onwards, Rolex watches became synonymous with precision.

  • 1919

Wilsdorf had to leave England because of the wartime taxes that were imposed on luxury assets in 1919.

Eventually, the price of gold and silver increased, and Rolex watches also became too expensive.

Thus, Rolex relocated in the globally-renowned watchmaking city, Geneva. Later, Wilsdorf registered Montres Rolex S.A. in 1920 in Geneva.

  • 1926

Rolex produced the first water-resistant wristwatch in 1926. The watch came with a hermetically sealed case dubbed as “Oyster” that offered optimal protection for its movement.

However, the Oyster case is considered as one of the biggest innovations not only in the brand’s history but also in the watchmaking industry.

Overall, the watch boasted a classic aesthetic featuring fluted bezel and case-back.

  • 1927

Hans Wilsdorf wanted to be more confident about its waterproof watch and the inner movement.

Thus, he implored the young English swimmer Mercedes Gleitze to wear one of these watches around her neck during the swim in 1927.

  • Unfortunately, Gleitze failed in her attempt to cross the Chanel.
  • However, the Rolex watch performed endearingly throughout the swim for over 10hours.
  • It kept accurate timing, and the innovative “Oyster” case did not allow a single water drop to enter.

Rolex celebrated this significant success of its waterproof watch by publishing a full-page ad on the Daily Mail’s front page.

  • 1931

Rolex developed and patented the first self-winding mechanism of the world. Thus, Rolex introduced its first Oyster Perpetual watch in 1931.

  • The watch incorporates an automatic Perpetual movement, secured within a water-resistant case.
  • However, this ingenious system today graces all modern automatic Rolex watches.

This self-winding mechanism, along with a Perpetual rotor is one of the finest creations of Rolex that contributed significantly to watchmaking advancements.

Over the next 50years, Rolex released a series of models, and each of them became a classic for their compelling history and exclusiveness.

However, are you looking for the best place to sell your Rolex watch in London? Fill up this online form today and get a free competitive valuation.

Trusted watch buyers at The Luxury Hut provide a secure and straightforward way to sell Rolex watches online or via appointment in London.

Our expert evaluators continually keep track of the changing market trends and prices of the pre-owned Rolex watches. Thus, you can rest assured that we will buy your Rolex watch for the best possible price in London.

Thus, get in touch with us at The Luxury Hut today to sell your Rolex watch.

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