The history of Rolex is inextricably linked to the visionary spirit of Hans Wilsdorf, its founder. In 1905, at the age of 24, Hans Wilsdorf founded a company in London specialising in the distribution of timepieces. He began to dream of a watch worn on the wrist. Wristwatches were not very precise at the time, but Hans Wilsdorf foresaw that they could become not only elegant, but also reliable.
In 1926, Rolex was the first company to introduce waterproof wristwatches with a name of “Oyster.” Rolex “Datejust” was launched in 1945, which was the first wristwatch that had automatic changing dates on the dial. The Rolex “Oyster Perpetual Submariner” launched in 1953, was the first wristwatch case waterproof upto 330 feet underwater. Two time zones were first displayed in Rolex “GMT Master” launched in 1954. In 1956 Rolex “Day-Date” was launched which had automatically changing day and date on the dial.
Rolex also offered the first self-winding wristwatch in 1931. It was popularly known as “bubble-back” due to its large back-case. They also participated in the development of Quartz watches. The company these days also has introduced a line of ceramic bezels across a range of professional sports watches.
Rolex is the official time keeper for Australian Open and Wimbledon among some other major sports events across the world. Rolex watch was also a part of the first Mariana Trench or Challenger Deep expedition. Rolex watches were also part of the first successful climb of Mt. Everest.
Rolex watches have been also one of the inspiring factors for the British soldiers in WW-II. Some of those watches send to soldiers as free replacements were sold for more than 50,000 USD in recent years.
The name Rolex imbibes the thought of luxury and ultra reliable watches. The prices of Rolex watches vary as per the model, make, materials used and also the year of the make. The stainless-steel ‘Pilots’ range e.g; GMT Master II is available above 8200 USD. Rolex vintage watches are available from 650 USD to 75,000 USD for the popular ones.
Hans Wilsdorf foundation a privately held charity organisation owns Rolex SA and hence is exempted from corporate taxes.
The Most Expensive:
The most expensive Rolex watch to be rolled out of the Rolex factory was the GMT Ice reference 116769TBR. It was priced at 485350 USD.
A 1942 Rolex chronometer valued at around 680,000 USD went under the hammer at Christie’s for 1.16 million USD. Another 1971 Rolex Daytona that adorned the wrists of Eric Clapton went on sale for 505,000 USD.
A James Bond Rolex from 1973 that featured in the movie Live and Let Die, was auctioned for 450,000 USD. The watch is a typical James Bond gadget, and has a razor disc, buzz saw. It also has a magnetic field generator.
A Rolex featuring an 18K gold dial, with the map of India was presented to the first president of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The map also had 26th January 1950 inscribed in it. This gold Rolex Oyster was auctioned for 440,000 USD.
Rolex has three major watch lines, namely Oyster perpetual, Professional and Cellini. Cellini is mainly the ‘Dressy’ line of watches. The bracelets for these lines of watches are Jubilee, President and Oyster.