Luxury & Fashion

Dec 1, 2014

Exclusive timepieces

Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law, Alfred Davis, founded Wilsdorf and Davis, the company that would eventually become Rolex SA, in London, England in 1905. Wilsdorf and Davis' main business at the time was importing Hermann Aegler's Swiss movements to England and placing them in quality watch cases made by Dennison and others.

These early wristwatches were sold to jewellers, who then put their own names on the dial. The earliest watches from Wilsdorf and Davis were usually hallmarked "W&D" inside the casebook, and in 1908, Wilsdorf registered the trademark "Rolex" and opened an office in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The company name "Rolex" was registered on 15 November 1915.

The book The Best of Time: Rolex Wristwatches: An Unauthorized History by Jeffrey P. Hess and James Dowling says that the name was just made up. One story, never confirmed by Wilsdorf, is that the name came from the French phrase horlogerie exquise, meaning "exquisite clockwork" or as a contraction of "horological excellence". Wilsdorf was said to want his watch brand's name to be easily pronounceable in any language. He also thought that the name "Rolex" was onomatopoeic, sounding like a watch being wound. It is easily pronounceable in many languages and, as all letters have the same size, allows to be written symmetrically. It was also short enough to fit on the face of a watch.

In 1914, Kew Observatory awarded a Rolex watch a Class A precision certificate, a distinction which was normally awarded exclusively to marine chronometers, and in 1919, Wilsdorf left England due to wartime taxes levied on luxury imports as well as export duties on the silver and gold used for the watch cases driving costs too high and moved the company to Geneva, Switzerland, where it was established as the Rolex Watch Company.

Its name was later changed to Montres Rolex, SA and finally Rolex, SA. Upon the death of his wife in 1944, Wilsdorf established the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation in which he left all of his Rolex shares, making sure that some of the company's income would go to charity. The company is still owned by a private trust and shares are not traded on any stock exchange.

Automatic and Quartz movements
The first self-winding Rolex wristwatch was offered to the public in 1931 (so-called the "bubbleback" due to the large caseback), preceded to the market by Harwood which patented the design in 1923 and produced the first self-winding watch in 1928, powered by an internal mechanism that used the movement of the wearer's arm. This not only made watch-winding unnecessary, but kept the power from the mainspring more consistent resulting in more reliable time keeping.

Rolex participated in the development of the original quartz watch movements. Although Rolex has made very few quartz models for its Oyster line, the company's engineers were instrumental in design and implementation of the technology during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1968, Rolex collaborated with a consortium of 16 Swiss watch manufacturers to develop the Beta 21 quartz movement used in their Rolex Quartz Date 5100. Alongside other manufactures including the Omega Electroquartz watches. Within about five years of research, design, and development, Rolex created the "clean-slate" 5035/5055 movement that would eventually power the Rolex Oysterquartz.

Water-resistant cases
Rolex was also the first watch company to create a water resistant wristwatch that could withstand pressure to a depth of 100 m (330 ft). Wilsdorf even had a specially made Rolex watch (the watch was called the "DeepSea") attached to the side of the Trieste bathyscaphe, which went to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The watch survived and tested as having kept perfect time during its descent and ascent. This was confirmed by a telegram sent to Rolex the following day saying "Am happy to confirm that even at 11,000 metres your watch is as precise as on the surface. Best regards, Jacques Piccard".

Collections
Rolex produced specific models suitable for the extremes of deep-sea diving, caving, mountain climbing, polar exploration, and aviation. Early sports models included the Rolex Submariner (1953) and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Sea Dweller. The latter watch has a helium release valve, co-invented with Swiss watchmaker Doxa, to release helium gas build-up during decompression. The Explorer (1953) and Explorer II (1971) were developed specifically for explorers who would navigate rough terrain, such as the world famous Mount Everest expeditions.

Another iconic model is the Rolex GMT Master (1954), originally developed at the request of Pan Am Airways to provide its crews with a dual time watch that could be used to display GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), which is the international time standard for aviation and was needed for Astronavigation during longer flights.

More Articles

FeaturedArticles

  • 8a646f742c77951a59ebabda7e074782

    Home & Design

    Jul 1, 2017

    HIDDEN POOLS

    Are you the successful owner of a small, nice, cute house, and you dream of having a swimming pool for those hot days, but you don't have the space you need in your backyard? 

  • AdobeStock_54112868

    Home & Design

    Mar 1, 2017

    BIOMIMETICS - THE SCIENCE OF IMITATION

    Biomimetics can be illustrated by many examples, not only in state-of-the-art technology, but also in everyday objects. Nowadays Biomimetics is part of design, physics, chemistry, various engineering or medicine. There are even those...

  • Depositphotos_19090019_xl-2015

    Food & Beverage

    Aug 30, 2018

    STEVIA

    This is already the century to take care of the body balance and healthcare. From the trip to gym three times a week, jogging in a park or by a river side or even on the beach, vegan food or even the external visual care, it will...


  • Depositphotos_7554000_xl-2015

    Research & Education

    Apr 25, 2018

    PORTUGUESE SCIENTISTS IN THE VANGUARD

    They are Portuguese, they study cancer and try to find out the cure for this 'bug'. They bring new theories and ways to look at science, contributing significantly to the world

  • parrilla

    Food & Beverage

    Mar 1, 2017

    URUGUAYAN GASTRONOMY - A DELICIOUS SURPRISE

    Seen many times as an unbalanced continent, South America still keeps away many almost unexplored small wonders. It is the case of the second smaller country of this continent, Uruguay. It is one of the most developed countries of...

  • Sem-Título-1

    Business & Industry

    Apr 1, 2017

    ABAT TM - BACKSTAGE OF CATERING

    Everyone loves going to restaurants for trying dishes difficult or impossible to cook at home. But are there many people guessing what is the secret of their cooking? Fresh ingredients are not the problem, nevertheless, it is not...


  • 1. Alibaba-New-Trade-Platform-in-Russia

    Business & Industry

    Nov 1, 2017

    New Trade Platform in Russia

    The service is already working on test phase and hopefully will be fully operational by the time you read this edition, we're referring to Tmall, a service whose existence dates back to 2010 but that so far had been limited to the...

  • The Rituals That Never Change

    Lifestyle & Travel

    Dec 31, 2015

    The Rituals That Never Change

    Whether you are a wife of a Sultan, or a humble person, your body loves to be treated with care and tenderness. Like it was 500 years ago, people feel the same now. There is good news for you: in the 21st century you...

  • Technology

    Apr 1, 2015

    Tractor Solutions

    The Vapormatic Company was founded in Budleigh Salterton, East Devon, in 1949 by Arthur E. Lea, a former sales executive with Shell Petroleum, and Ron Foster, an Engineer who had designed and developed a device to convert petrol engines...