You would be forgiven for not recognising the name Hans Wilsdorf.
However in 1905, at the age of 24, this young entrepreneur, founded a company whose name will not have escaped you.
Based in London and specialising in the distribution of timepieces, Hans named his company, Rolex, in 1908.
Somewhat ahead of his time and with branding his focus, Hans Wilsdorf searched for a name that was short, easy to pronounce and recall in any language. He also wanted his logo to look striking on his watch movements and dials.
”I tried combining the letters of the alphabet in every possible way. This gave me some hundred names, but none of them felt quite right. One morning, while riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus along Cheapside in the City of London, a genie whispered ‘Rolex’ in my ear” H.Wilsdorf
Watchmaking precision from the beginning.
“We want to be the first in the field and Rolex should be seen as the one and only-the best.”
In 1910 Rolex, following their determination to be the best in the field, Rolex was the first wristwatch worldwide, to receive the Swiss certificate of Chronometric Precision. Following that in 1914, Rolex were awarded a class “A” precision certificate by Kew Observatory. Until this time this prestigious award had been reserved exclusively for marine chronometers. From this point onwards Rolex cemented their reputation for precision.
Rolex set out to not only be the best but also to prove it. Their claim to a waterproof watch, came in the form of the Rolex Oyster, and this claim was proven in 1927 when it was worn by Mercedes Gleitze, during her swim across the English Channel. Her swim lasted for more than 10 hours, and at the end of it the Rolex Oyster remained in perfect working order.
From crossing oceans to scaling mountains, Rolex pioneered with their watches and their brand. The first expedition crew to fly over Everest, in 1933, were equipped with Rolex Oysters. When Sir John Hunt’s expedition reached the summit of Mount Everest, in 1953, they were of course wearing Rolex Oyster Perpetuals.
Rolex has always shown an affinity to the world of motor racing and in 1935, when Sir Malcolm Campbell set the land speed record at the wheel of the Bluebird – he too sported a Rolex watch.
Jackie Stewart, legendary Formula One champion is known for having his suits tailored a couple of inches short on his left cuff, to allow his Rolex to be seen at all times!
From Pilots of Pan Am to deep sea dive expeditions, Rolex have been at the forefront of technical performance and have fine-tuned their products to showcase their performance and design for over a century.
Since the explorers and adventurers, the risk takers and the high flyers, many have aimed to own their own piece of timekeeping history. Alongside the modern day expeditioners, now world leaders, sporting heroes and A-list celebrities have all been seen wearing Rolex’s. Aside from the effortless and sophisticated styling, the everlasting precision and attention to detail will ensure that, even in an evolving world of smart watches, Rolex will remain at the forefront of watch desirability for years to come.