Brand Directory: Rolex
In 1905, German-born Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis set up a company in London that imported Swiss movements which are installed in British cases and sold to jewellers who put their names on the dials. Recognising the potential for their brand, Wilsdorf created the brand name Rolex in 1908.
In 1910, a Rolex became the first wristwatch to carry the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, awarded by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne, Switzerland.
Demand for Rolex watches rose swiftly, and British taxes on the Swiss movements Rolex used prompted Wilsdorf to move the business to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1919. With production costs lowered, Wilsdorf quickly set out to solve the age-old problem of moisture and dust entering a watch case and damaging the movement. The Rolex watchmakers came up with a fully sealed watch case, which Wilsdorf named the Oyster, and released it to an appreciative audience in 1926.
In 1931, Rolex introduced the first automatic winding wristwatch, giving it the legendary name Oyster Perpetual.
In 1945, they released the Datejust. The Datejust was the first watch to have the date jump instantaneously at midnight.
The 1950s saw a whole lot of releases such as the Air-King (1958), the Explorer (1953), the Submariner (1953), the GMT Master (1955), the Day-Date (1956), the electromagnetic field resistant Milgauss (1956), the Lady-Datejust (1957) and the first Deep Sea model (1960). Wilsdorf’s death in 1960, saw ownership of Rolex S.A. (a collection of sub-companies) passed to the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation which was founded by Wilsdorf in 1945, the mission of which is simply to sustain Rolex S.A. indefinitely.