Rolex SA is the leading luxury watch manufacturer in the world producing over 2, 000 watches per day that generate sales of over $7 billion dollars each year. The Swiss based Company manufactures, services and distributes wristwatches under the Rolex and Tudor brand through authorized dealers. It was founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis in London, England and was recently ranked 57 on the worlds most powerful brands. The original name of the company was Wilsdorf and Davis. In 1919, operations were relocated to Geneva, Switzerland. The brand today competes with other leading luxury watch companies like Patek Philippe, Omega, and Panerai and sponsors many major sports events in tennis, golf, yachting, and racing.
|Industry||Manufacturing||Watch Produced||2, 000 daily|
|Founded||1905||Services offered||Repair and Maintenance|
|Founders||Alfred Davis, Hans Wilsdorf||Owned By||Wilsdorf Foundation|
|Corporate Headquarters||Geneva, Switzerland||Employee Count||2, 800|
The Founding of Rolex
Rolex was founded in 1902 by Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf and Davis. He founded the watch making company in London where they specialized in importing Hermann Aegler's quality movements and then placing them in quality watch cases made by companies such as Dennison. The duo distributed the timepieces to jewelers that added their names to the wristwatches. Some of the earliest watches produced were often stamped with "W&D" on the inside of the caseback.
Rolex Brand is Created
1908 was a big year for the company. Wilsdorf registered "Rolex" as a trademark and opened their first Switzerland office in La Chaux-de-Fonds. It has been said that Wilsdorf wanted his brand to be easy to pronounced in any language. The word "Rolex" was also said to sound like a watch being wound according to Wilsdorf.
A Rolex watch was awarded a Class A precision certificate by the Kew Obervatory in 1914. This was an exciting distinction considering that normally the award was given exclusively to marine chronometers.
Wartime taxes imposed on luxury items caused Wilsdorf to leave England in 1919. The levies on silver and gold, which were metals that were used in the production of Rolex watches, became too costly. The Rolex brand moved with Wilsdorf settling down in Geneva, Switzerland as Rolex Watch Company. Later the brand would become Montres Rolex, SA and finally Rolex, SA.
Along with creating Rolex, Wilsdorf also founded the high-quality yet lower priced Tudor brand of watches. This subsidiary company was founded in 1946. Wilsdorf continued to grow both companies and produce quality and innovative timepieces until his death in 1960.
The Hans Wilsdorf Foundation
In 1944, Hans Wilsdorf created the Hans Wilsdorf foundation after the death of his wife. Mr. Wilsdorf left all of his shares to the foundation insuring that some of the companies income would go to good works. To this day the Rolex company is still owned by a trust and is not publicly traded.
The Rolex Company has been in business since 1902 and has a long history of innovative and successful watch designs. Rolex had many firsts including being the first company to offer a wristwatch that would automatically change the date and day on the dial, the first watch case that was waterproof up to 100 m, the first wristwatch to display two time zones at once and the first wristwatch to earn chronometer certification. Some of the numerous innovations include:
- 1910 - The first wristwatch to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision
- 1926 - Rolex had another breakthrough by inventing and producing the first waterproof wrist watch. From this watch was born the famous Oyster collection which is still being produced today.
- 1945 - First watch to have an automatic date on the watch dial.
- 1954 - First timepiece to display two timezones
- 1956 - The Day-Date is born as first watch to display both day and date on dial
- 2012 - The first wristwatch to have a command bezel designed for multiple uses
Previous to 1931 Rolex produced watches that required manual winding. In 1931, however, a self-winding model was offered called the "bubbleback." The watch used movement from the wearer's arm to drive the self-winding component. The new self-winding technology not only made it more convenient but also made time keeping more reliable.
During the late 1960's as well as 1970's the engineers at Rolex were critical to the quartz movement technology. Rolex collaborated with 16 manufacturers where they were eventually able to produce the Beta 21 quartz movement, found in the Rolex Quartz Date reference 5100. Continuing their efforts, within five years the clean-slate 5035/5055 movement was produced and used in the Rolex Oysterquartz.
How Many Watches Does Rolex Produce Annually?
Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) statistics reveal that Rolex produces around 700, 000 mechanical chronometers every year.
Watch Models Rolex Currently Produces
Rolex has produced countless watches over its long history. While some have been discontinued and are now considered vintage and collectible, other modern models are continuously developed and offered to the public.
There are a wide range of Rolex models that are geared towards specific types of wearers. For example, if you enjoy swimming and diving, the Rolex Submariner may be the best option for you. This model is specifically designed to withstand water pressure and remain accurate. If you enjoy racing, the Rolex Daytona is a better option. The Daytona was specifically designed for racing enthusiasts and is even named after one of the most popular annual racing events.
In Rolex’s Oyster Collection they currently offer the following models:
- Datejust II
- Datejust Lady 31
- Datejust Pearlmaster 34
- Day-Date II
- Cosmograph Daytona
- Rolex Deepsea
- Explorer II
- GMT-Master II
- Lady-Datejust Pearlmaster
- Oyster Perpetual
- Sea-Dweller 4000
- Yacht-Master II
In Rolex’s new Cellini Collection the following models are offered:
- Cellini Time
- Cellini Date
- Cellini Dual Time
- Cellini Rolex Prince
Many have only know Rolex SA for their brand "Rolex." What isn't obvious to everyone is that Rolex SA also ownes and founded the brand Tudor.