Helpful things about Rolex
Updated: Jul 28, 2021
In this article, pre-owned-luxury-watches would like to share some interesting and historical facts about the Rolex watches.
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Rolex is one of the most famous luxury watch brands in the world that is known for its great precision and impeccable quality. They are also a symbol of elegance and class. You can say Rolex watches is a horological status symbol for the most discerning and passionate watch connoisseur.
Ask any watch lovers about their wish list for a favourite watch brand and Rolex will surely be on the top of their list when they think about acquiring their first luxury timepiece.
Rolex is known the world over for its many models of quality timepieces. Rolex served as a status symbols, a key indicator of a person’s level of taste, success and wealth. There are many reasons that has contributed to the Rolex success story on a global scale.
Why the name Rolex?
There are many stories and theories about the origin of the name Rolex. While most other luxury brand watches used the name of their founders, such as Audemar Piguet, started by childhood friends in Switzerland Jules-Louis Audemar and Edward-Auguste Piguet.
Patek Philippe, named after its Polish watch maker Adrien Philippe. Tag Heuer named under founder Edouard Heuer. There is no watch brand that has had so much debate on how its name came about.
Initially it was called Wilsdorf and Davis because it was founded by Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred James Davis. One common story was that the founders was looking for a name that could be pronounced in any language, should look good on the face of the watch, short and easily remembered. Another theory being that, according to its founder the word Rolex sounded like a watch being wound. Really?
But clearly the most accurate should be from the horse’s mouth about the name of Rolex. Here is a quote from Hans Wilsdorf himself:
“I tried combining the letters of the alphabet in every possible way. This gave some hundred names, but none of them felt quite right. It was one morning, when I was sitting on the upper level of a double-decker (bus) powered at that time by horses, driving along Cheapside in London, that a good genie whispered in my ear: ROLEX! A few days after this fruitful journey, the Rolex brand was filed, and then officially registered in Switzerland by Wilsdorf & Davis.”
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The Rolex 904L stainless steel story.
Do you know that all Rolex watches are made from 904L stainless steel from the year 1985 onwards? 904L is a corrosion-resistant super-alloy. Watch we wear on our wrist produced moisture and corrosive material or substance like salt that can corrode and rust the watch.
The reason Rolex chose to use 904L because it takes a higher polish than other grades of steel and provide greater corrosion resistance, though it does not machine as well and requires specialized equipment to be properly modified into the required shapes. Using 904L sets the brand apart from its competitors although nowadays, other watch brand is also using the 904L, the Ball Watch Roadmaster Icebreaker for example.
The 904L steel is a little pricier than the 316L and much harder to make. It is said that Rolex invested heavily in developing machines that allows them to work with 904L steel in-house. Without doubt, there are other steels that are more durable and more resistant to scratches and marks than the 904L steel, but for a tool watch, especially when it comes to Rolex’s dive watches, it’s crucial that the cases are waterproof, and corrosion can compromise this if the threads that hold the crown and the case back corrode.
Rolex watches are all hand-made?
The answer is NO! But it is true that certain process needs human touch or in Rolex case, hand assembled and hand regulated (adjusted) to keep proper time precision. They are meticulously and carefully crafted and put together to make sure they meet the high standards that Rolex is looking to keep.
To be categorized as hand-made, here is the US FTC definition below:-
The US FTC rules definition…”
“It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by implication, that any industry product is hand-made or hand-wrought unless the entire shaping and forming of such product from raw materials and its finishing and decoration were accomplished by hand labor and manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to control and vary the construction, shape, design, and finish of each part of each individual product.”
Hate to say this, Rolex watches are mass-produced like any other consumer watch. In fact, pretty much all watches made in the past 150 years are.
As far back as the 1800’s, most watchmakers hand crafted the watch they made. There was rudimentary automation involved, in form of jigs and molds customs to create rough parts in fast order. As time goes on, each successive craftsman would then refined it to a different degrees and find ways to make the watch making process faster.
By the 1900s jigs and molds gave ways to automated manufacturing. A Boston watch company called Waltham was known as the first watch making company to mass produced their watch. At about the same time, The company LeCoultre invented the ebauches or rough watch blanks to compete.
By the early 20th century, almost all watches made were mass produced with the exception of a few. Most early chronographs were hand-made pieces added to a mass-produced base. At least, until chronographs became common enough that they started selling chronograph “modules” for watch makers to adapt.
Rolex don’t really make their own watches until not long ago, they were an importer and wholesaler when they first started out. They bought watch movements that are build to their required specification from other established watch companies then. Their main supplier in the late 30s were a company called Hermann Aegler or the Aegler Swiss Movement. They bought their cases from Dennison. But there were Rolex models sold that were little more than high-quality versions of otherwise common models from other companies like Valjoux, ETA, Cortebert and FHF.
However Rolex robotics and automated processes are state of the art with stringent quality control, delivering a very consistent precise quality components that are tested in every single stage of their production. Achieving consistently good quality watch at a lower cost increases their profit margin. You can say a brilliant strategic marketing which regulate their availability and control of pricing. It is estimated that Rolex makes about 900,000 watches a year according to sources.
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Why Rolex show the time at 10 past 10 in all their photograph?
Well, this is known as the Rolex official time. Not only that, if you look closely, the second hand is always at 31 seconds and the date and day, in the case of Rolex Day-Date, will show the 28th and the day will be always be Monday.
This position will make the watch look symmetrical and the famous Rolex logo at 12 o’clock will be perfectly framed. This way, they look more aesthetic and has becomes their trademark
Who are Rolex founders?
Rolex was founded by Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law of Alfred Davis in England in the year 1905 with the name Wilsdorf and Davis. They marked their watches with the W&D logo inside the casebook and sold them to jewellers to put on their own name of the dial.
Rolex Oyster watches are pressure-tested
To ensure complete water tight resistance, Rolex will test all its Oyster watches using a sensitive air-pressure chamber to identify if the case has any air leakage. Defective watch will them be take off.
Rolex registered its trademark in 1908
In the year 1908, Rolex officially registered the trademark “Rolex” and then opened an office in La Chaux-de-Fonds Switzerland. Only in the year 1925 that the world famous and iconic Crown logo first appeared. The shape of the crown has been slightly reshaped and minor changes made since then.
Hans Wilsdorf founded the Rolex charity after the death of his wife in 1944, the Hans Wilsdorf foundation. However donations by this foundation are kept a secret since Swiss law allows private charitable foundation not disclosing their respective charities.
2 of the most expensive Rolex watch sold!
The second most expensive watch by Rolex is the 'Rolex Bao Dai' ref. 6062. It was auctioned in 2002 for $235,000, a one of its kind, outfitted with a black dial and diamond indexes that was once belong to the last Emperor of the dynasty Nguyen of Vietnam, His Majesty Nyugen Phuc Vinh Thuy.
It was then sold in 2017 for a cool 5,060,427! It was told that during a gathering of the world’s superpower in Geneva in 1954 that the wealthy Emperor with impeccable taste for luxury goods asked a famous Rolex retailer at the time, Chronometrie Philippe Beguin for the rarest and the most precious watch ever made.
Bai Dai was not just wealthy, he also had a very fine taste and loved surrounding himself with rare and super expensive items. He owned a Ferrari 375 MM Spyder and commissioned many famous artisans to create unique pieces for him.
And there is no wonder that his wish for the most exceptional Rolex timepiece ever made, came true with the reference 6062. But what makes this watch so unique? First of all, it is one of the three black dial watches known to have diamond markers. But unlike the other two models, whose odd hours are marked with 6 diamonds, the Bao Dai’s even hours this time, are diamond marker.
The most expensive one however is the Paul Newman Daytona, a 1968 Rolex Ref.6239. It was auction off on October 2017 at a Phillip inaugural watch auction in New York City for a cool $17,752,500! Making it the most expensive wristwatch ever sold in an auction. This particular watch was owned by the famous American actor, businessman and philanthropist Paul Newman. The buyer was an anonymous who bought it by phone.
The oyster case has a patented screwing down system of its bezel, case back and crown to the middle. A moment in the history of watchmaking at the time. Made or rather invented by Rolex in 1926, this would become the first waterproof wristwatch to be produce on a large scale
Rolex on top of the world and the bottom too.
The first successful man to reach the top of mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world at the elevation of 29,000 feet wore a Rolex watch in 1953, then in 1960, the bathyscaphe Trieste that belongs to the US Navy dived to the depth of 35,800 feet into the ocean at Mariana Trench. At such depth, the watch were subjected to a massive pressure of 14,000 psi, despite this, the Rolex watch continued to tick without losing a second! A testament of its durability, ruggedness and quality!
Rolex watches was not this expensive.
We all know that Rolex watches are quite expensive and synonymous with the sign of wealth and success. It was not that expensive as little back as the 1980s. The price average at the time was about $1000. Now its multiple times this amount and for sure they are not due to inflation alone. With increased demand, the price go higher, supply and demand principle and the goal to make its watches more exclusive.
Rolex employ more than 6,000 people and have 4 sites in Switzerland and retails over 100 countries. In the movie ‘Live and Let Die’, its main actor Roger Moore wore a Rolex Submariner 5513, which was made especially for him was auctioned off for 178,000 pound. In the year 1945, the Datejust was the first wrist watch able to automatically change the date. And that the Rolex Day-Date, Day wheel is available in 26 languages
The languages available are:
The Aegler calibre movement that Rolex used in 1910 was the first to meet the standard set by COSC for wristwatch. During those days, only pocket watches could meet the standard set by COSC for precision criteria. The Submariner was the first wristwatch to have 100m waterproofing. That was in the year 1953. They are also the first watchmaker to produced watch that can display dual time zone at one time and also the one with a perpetual rotor. In 1956, they released the Day-Date model, the first watch that can chance the date and day on its dial.
In the Second World War, many pilots in the British Royal Air Force used Rolex in their mission. If was a fact that these watches were taken by Nazi soldiers, knowing how realiable and good those watches are. Rolex gave replacements to those soldiers whose watch was taken based only on their mouth. When soldiers from other countries found out it, Rolex became coveted and a powerful symbol that propel the brand to what it is today.
Rolex is a company that is striving to constantly improves and also evolves. That is why they have their own research laboratory that works on innovating and inventing new patents on a consistent basis.
In conclusion, the Rolex brand will be here for a long time to come. A world-wide icon known for its precision, quality and expensive price. And it will continue to dominate the luxury watch market!
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