Hans Wilsdorf founded the company we know as Rolex in 1905. Born in Germany in 1881, the company, Wilsdorf & Davies, was based in London. By 1908 it had become one of the leading watch companies in the UK. It was in this year that he coined the name Rolex.
Official Chronometer Certification was awarded to Rolex in 1910 from the “Bureau Officiel” in Switzerland, the first time this had ever been given to a wristwatch. This was to be the first of many accolades awarded to the watch, including the Class A Precision from the Kew Observatory in 1914.
In 1926 the Rolex Oyster was released. It was the first wristwatch to be considered waterproof, proven a year later when the watch was worn by the swimmer Mercedes Gleitze in his successful bid to cross the English Channel. This was beneficial to Wilsdorf whom had sponsored the event and gained considerable exposure for his new Oyster Watch. Wilsdorf recognised the importance of advertising and marketing his creation in order to gain publicity and prestige.
1931 saw the creation of the Perpetual Rotor, a mechanism now seen as the basis for self-winding movements. In the following years Rolex released the first Oyster Perpetual Ladydate (1954) the GMT Master with dual time zone function (1955) and the first Day-Date (1956).
Andre Heiniger took over the company following the death of Hans Wildorf on 06 July 1960. Rolex continued to invent and innovate in terms of technical skill and style throughout the 2nd half of the century. The Sea-dweller (1967) was certified as reaching depths of up to 1,220 metres making it the choice for Professional Divers - a point that was quickly adopted in advertising the model. The Explorer II (1978) and Cosmograph Daytona (1988) were also released to international waiting lists securing Rolex as one of the worlds most prestigious watch brands.
Current Rolex Models
The current Rolex collection include Oyster Perpetual Air King, Date, Datejust, Day-Date, Oysterquartz, Submariner, Explorer, Explorer II, Sea-Dweller 4000, GMT Master II, Yacht-Master, Cosmoograph Daytona, Lady Oyster Perpetual, Lady-Date, Lady Datejust and Lady Datejust Pearlmaster.