A Crowning Achievement
The history of Rolex, the largest single luxury watch brand in the world and a sponsor of this month's Open Championship, is a triumph of both watchmaking excellence and brand association.
The five pointed crown of the Rolex logo is recognized throughout the world as a symbol of quality. It has been the brand’s associations with historical accomplishments, though, that have taken it to such heights.
The Rolex Experience in Shanghai includes an enlightening letter written by Hans Wilsdorf, the company’s founder. The watchmaker’s executives will tell you the letter is original, and although it's possible, it does seem somewhat unlikely. Being such a valuable historic artifact, the original is most probably locked in a secret vault beneath the brand’s Swiss headquarters.
The letter spells out, in Wilsdorf’s own handwriting, the reasons behind the name Rolex. He explains that a good brand name should have no more than five letters; be easy to remember; look good on movements and dials and, perhaps most significantly, be easy to pronounce in every language.
Today, of course, Rolex is the largest single luxury watch brand in the world. Back in 1908, though, when Wilsdorf, registering the company’s new name and seemingly plucked it from the ether, it meant absolutely nothing at all.
Originally called Wilsdorf and Davis watches, the brand that would come to be known as Rolex was founded by the 24-year-old Wilsdorf, and his brother in law, Alfred Davis, in 1905. Back then, wristwatches were a relatively new commodity and the pair faced an uphill struggle to convince potential customers of their product’s accuracy.
Wilsdorf was absolutely determined to make the very best product he possibly could. He was relentless in his pursuit of perfection and was constantly attempting to improve upon the blank mechanisms he purchased from Swiss suppliers. For years he submitted his modified movements to official testing institutes and, in 1914, the Kew Observatory in London awarded Rolex with an ‘A’ rating for accuracy. It was an accolade that, up until that point, had only ever been awarded to marine chronometers.
Written by Richard Reid
Click here to see the published article.
JS Watch co. Reykjavik is a family-run Icelandic watchmaker. Billed as the world's smallest, who these exceptional timepieces promise to put the country on the map for something other than hot springs, Bjork and disruptive volcanoes
It’s time to get in touch with your creative side, as Evan Rast explores one of the year’s top trends
This year, Cartier has plenty of tricks up its sleeve
Evan Rast reports on the timepieces that caught her eye at last month's Salon de la Haute Horlogerie
Balanced shapes meet Haute Horlogerie in a fascinating new expression from Piaget
With the addition of a minute repeater and a grand complication pocket watch, Cartier proves that its Fine Watchmaking line can rival that of any full-fledged manufacture, writes Evan Rast
Evan Rast reports on the watchmakers that made their mark at the recent SalonQP in London
The fourth DFS Galleria Masterpieces of Time exhibition at the Venetian Macau promises to be a visual treat for Hong Kong’s fans of mechanical timepieces
Evan Rast provides a handy guide to Rolex’s latest addition to its timepiece arsenal
Cartier's Nigel Luk tells Mathew Scott how playing golf has helped reinforce his business relationships in mainland China
Most Popular Items
- Insider Knowledge
- Jiménez makes 600th European Tour appearance
- Anchoring putters banned from 2016
- Kingston leads, McIlroy in Wentworth woe
- Closing it Out
- Molinari leads but Donald crashes out
- Cavalleri, Young share lead at Bahamas
- Palmer sizzles with 62 to seize lead at Colonial
- Barltrop Holds on for Maiden Win
- Down to the Wire