While no one can definitely say what Rolex means or where the brand name began, any erudite across the globe knows what these luxury timepieces mean. Rolex watches are symbols of power. Rolex watches have accompanied extraordinary human beings in dangerous, death defying and dazzling feats. The luxury timepieces were hallmarks of triumph for Mercedes Gleitze as she swam for ten hours in penetrating icy waters across the English Channel. When pioneers hiked Mt. Everest's 29,035 ft. summit, Rolex watches were there.
Pioneers have not only worn Rolex watches, the luxury timepieces have made strides in haute Horlogère and revolutionized cultural practices and ideologies. When the young Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of what would become Rolex, began in 1905, he was not satisfied with the watches of his time. Even though pocket watches were the norm for Wilsdorf's peers, Wilsdorf envisioned that wristwatches could replace the antiquated pocket watches. Wilsdorf had to engender incredible wristwatches, though. First, his watches would have to be so superior to pocket watches that the gentlemen of his epoch would transition out of pocket watches to the more feminine wristwatches; Wilsdorf had to challenge gender norms since women were the main carriers of wristwatches. Wilsdorf also had to compete with an established and reputable English pocket watch markets.
Despite cultural and economic challenges, Wilsdorf's vision was undeterred. If he were to create the premiere luxury timepiece and revolutionize it forever, he had to address its shortcomings. The main concern that plagued Wilsdorf's customers was the issue of precision of wristwatches; the watches did were inferior to pocket watches Instead of skirting the concern, Wilsdorf confronted it. Wilsdorf persevered and his insatiable quest for chronometric precision took him to search in Switzerland. After studying with leaders in haute Horlogère, Wilsdorf's Rolex watches received the esteemed Swiss Certificate of Precision in 1920 and the highly coveted class “A” precision certificate from the Kew Observatory in 1914. Fortunately, Wilsdorf's prediction could not have been more fortuitous. The onset of WW1 benefited from the fine, accurate and practical Rolex wristwatches and cemented them as masculine and competitive.
As a true pioneer, Wilsdorf did not stop there. Even if there were no shortcomings, Wilsdorf developed advanced technologies that seemed impossible and surpassed expectations. Following the distinctive tradition of Swiss haute Horlogère, Rolex watches are renowned for their precision, use of quality materials, functionality and intentional aesthetic. Under Wilsdorf's leadership, Rolex watches were the first to integrate the self-winding movement and become the first automatic watch. Rolex watches also paved the way of what we know as the waterproof watch; Mercedes Gleitze is emblematic of this advancement when she managed her arduous ten-hour swim with her Rolex intact. The Parachrom hairspring, a ceramic bezel, and 904L Steel are hallmarks of the luxury timepieces that are unique to the brand. The watches' universal appeal and acclaim have landed them in in over 100 countries and in the hands of 4000 highly skilled watchmakers.