The Rolex is possibly one of the most misunderstood watch brands of all time. It is seen by most as a status symbol, a delicate toy for the rich. When in reality Rolex watches are workhorses, designed to take an incredible amount of abuse and still provide its user with accurate time. Because of this, these watches are adored and used by most famous personalities throughout history, especially those whose participate in competitive sport. Today we look at some of the key point form Rolex’s storied history and a couple of their most famous watches.
Early History: The processor of rolex was the Wilsdorf and Davis watch company, founded by Alfred Davis and his brother-in-law Hans Wilsdorf. They used to make high quality watches and sold them to various jewelers, who would usually put their own name on them. However, Hans Wilsdorf wasn’t quite fond of this. He wanted his watch to be recognized under one name, Rolex. The name “Rolex” was chosen by him for two reason. The first reason was simple enough; Rolex was easy to pronounce in any language and the second was, according to Wilsdorf, the world “Rolex” sounded like clock spring being winded.
The Oyster case: Although mechanism inside a Rolex was superb, poor sealing capability of contemporary watch cases meant dust and water would eventually get in and damage the mechanisms. Rolex addressed this issue in 1926 with the introduction of the Oyster case. The components of these cases were so finely put together that it meant that no dust or water can get in them. This case became the standard for all other watch cases and after the patents expired, all other watch manufacturer begun adopting it to their desing.
The Perpetual mechanism: Before 1931, most watch required to be their springs to be winded down after a set period of time. However in 1931 Rolex invented the word’s first “automatic watch”. Their patented self-winding mechanism with a “Perpetual” rotor that winded the spring through its own movement, meaning the watches had the potential to work indefinitely. This watch, combined with the durability of the oyster case, became the go to watch for adventures and sports personalities as the watch was perfect for their hazardous life.
The GMT Master series: The GMT-Master series is one of the most iconic Rolex watch series of all time. Launched in 1955 the GMT-Master was designed to show the time in two different time zones simultaneously. Developed as a navigation instrument for Pan-Am pilots, the watch’s internal chronometer could show different time zone if the used twisted the bezel. They became extremely popular with air force pilots and astronauts, which in turn Rolex slowly begin turning into a fashion statement.
The Submariner series: The Submariner series was made to cater for deep sea divers. Although the original Oyster case was designed to be water resistance, it was never meant to be taken for deep underwater dives. The Submariner version of the Oyster was the first divers’ wristwatch that was waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), allowing the divers to use it without any kind of issue. Its rotatable bezel also had engraved 60-minute graduation which allows a diver to monitor diving time and decompression stops accurately and safely.