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The History of Rolex


Rolex is a Swiss luxury watch brand which is well known to all over the world. Just like every other country Japan also have enthusiasm on this brand so Japanese Rolex lover buy watches to keep it as an asset.
In this article, We will explain the history of Rolex and its representative models.


In 1905, Hans Wilsdorf established a watch wholesale company in London. The company’s name is Wilsdorf & Davis, and it is the predecessor of Rolex.
Hans was one of the first to recognize the demand for wristwatches at a time when pocket watches were the mainstream. In the early days, the company mainly sold travel watches in leather cases.
Then, the demand for wristwatches from military personnel, athletes, and women began to increase. Hans saw this as an opportunity.

Shortly thereafter, he started business with watch manufacturer Egler as a partner. The first order was for several hundred thousand Swiss francs. At today’s rate, that’s about several million yen. This is said to be about five times the capital of the firm Wilsdorf & Davis.
The watches are selling well, and the relationship between the two companies will continue.

However, the brand “Rolex” had not yet been created.
At that time, the watch industry did not allow wholesalers to stamp their company names on their products. Hans chose to follow this practice for the sake of business. In his heart of hearts, he knew that one day he would need to put his name on his products.

Thus, in 1908, he registered “ROLEX” as a trademark. There are many theories about the origin of the name.

Roll” indicating automatic winding + “Excellent” meaning the best
Abbreviation of “Rolling Export

There are various guesses as to the origin of the name. What is certain is that it was coined by Hans and named with the intention of making it easy to pronounce in any language.

Hans then launched a strategy to spread the word about Rolex. He obtained permission to put the name “Rolex” on some of the watches he supplied. In this way, he gradually increased the number of products with the name.
It took 19 years before the name was engraved on dials, movements and cases.
The enamel dial with the red “12” is known as one of the first products.

The company name was changed in 1915. With the outbreak of World War II, exports to England were hampered by the fact that “Wilsdorf” was a German name.
The new company name was “Rolex Watch Company”. This was the moment Rolex was born.

Proof of Technical Prowess
In 1910, Rolex introduced a wristwatch with a Swiss official chronometer certificate.
At the time, wristwatches had a low status compared to pocket watches, and the system was considered inferior.
Hans was convinced that wristwatches should be as accurate as pocket watches.

In 1910, he sent samples to the Bienne Watchmaking School, which would later become the official watchmaking accreditation authority. It took 14 days of rigorous testing under a variety of conditions, which had to be overcome in order for the watch to be certified as accurate.
The result was successful. It was the first wristwatch in the world to receive an official certificate of guarantee, demonstrating the high level of its technical capabilities.

In 1914, it was the first wristwatch to be awarded an “A” rating by the Teddington National Physical Laboratory in England.
In 1914, the Teddington National Physics Laboratory in England awarded the first A rating to a wristwatch, for a movement made by Egler, which passed a 45-day test, overturning the reputation of wristwatches as inferior to pocket watches.

Development of the world’s first waterproof wristwatch
While Hans was enjoying success in the watch business, he was hearing a lot of opinions.
Hans had been successful in selling watches, but he had heard many people say, “Watches are sensitive to dust and water. He wanted to overcome this weakness, as it could enter through the back or crown.
Since rubber or leather would cause the material to deteriorate, they decided to solve this problem in the design part, which was not related to the material.
In 1926, he applied to the Swiss Intellectual Property Office for a patent for a water-resistant case, which was granted two weeks later, and he gave the name “Oyster” to the wristwatch equipped with the case.

The way the Oyster was displayed was quite unique.
The way the Oyster was displayed was quite unique: the Oyster was submerged in a tank with goldfish swimming in it!
The invention of the “swimmable watch” shocked the world, and this display method was a success.

The invention of the mass-produced watch Prince
In 1928, a square-shaped wristwatch called the Prince was born. This was a time when the “Art Deco style” was taking the world by storm. Rolex was also developing a watch to follow this trend.
The Prince is also known as the “Doctor’s Watch”. It has hour and minute hands at the top of the dial, and a large second hand at the bottom.
It is highly legible and has been used by athletes, doctors, and researchers.
It is also said that the independent second hand was intended to show off the high level of technical skill.

Launch of the Perpetual, the first self-winding model
In 1931, the world’s first self-winding wristwatch, the Oyster Perpetual, was launched. It was able to run for 35 hours if worn for 6 hours, thanks to a mechanism that stored energy in the spring just by moving the wrist.
In addition to its mechanism, the Perpetual also had

Movement as thin as possible
High precision and high durability

In addition to its mechanism, the perpetual also contained elements that the previous models did not have. It was also nicknamed the “bubble bag” because of its bulging case.

In 1945, the “Dayjust function” was developed.
Hans knew that he needed a model to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the company. He wanted to add new functions to the watch, such as an Oyster case and automatic winding.
This is how the Dayjust function was born. The date window, which changes at exactly midnight, was placed at the highly visible 3 position.
At this point, the function was complete, but it has evolved even further with repeated improvements.

In 1955, the first GMT-Master was launched.
Rolex had developed a wristwatch that could display all time zones more than a decade before the GMT Master was introduced. However, it had the disadvantage of being difficult to read the time.
A request came in from an American airline, which took notice of Rolex’s technological prowess.
They asked for a watch that could display only local time and home time.

In response to this request, the GMT Master was born, featuring a second hour hand that rotates once every 24 hours. In consideration of pilots, the GMT Master was made of a material that prevented light reflection and was strong enough to withstand the high load in the cockpit.

In 1982, the “GMT Master II” was released. This one was developed as an upwardly compatible model and added the ability to move the hour hand independently. It was now possible to easily set a second time.

Incidentally, the second hour hand (GMT hand) on the GMT Master can also be used as a compass (directional needle)!
If you are in the northern hemisphere, the GMT hand will point north if you point the short hand to the sun.

In 1963, the Daytona was born.
The Daytona is Rolex’s flagship sports model, a sleek chronograph with a host of features designed for Formula 1 racers that are still very popular today.

The Rolex Prize was established in 1976.
Rolex established the Rolex Prize to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Oyster.
This award is given to individuals who are making the world a better place, and over 100 men and women have been selected so far.
More than 100 men and women have been selected to receive the award.

In 1992, the “Yacht-Master” was launched.
This watch was launched for wealthy people who do beach resorts. It is available in three sizes, men’s, boy’s, and women’s, and its submersibility is 100m since it is designed to be used on a boat.
The most popular model in the series is the stainless steel and platinum combination model, the “Loregium.

The secret of its popularity

  1. High name recognition
    Rolex is well known in Japan, and it is no exaggeration to say that everyone knows about it.
    It is no exaggeration to say that everyone knows Rolex.
    It is said that a single Rolex watch costs no less than one million yen, but if you choose a used one or a model, you can buy it for several hundred thousand yen.
  2. High Functionality
    Many people choose Rolex not only for its reputation and name recognition, but also for the functionality of the watch itself. There are models that are water resistant, submersible, and anti-magnetic.
  3. High asset value
    Some people keep Rolex watches not as watches but as “assets”.
    For example, a model purchased for 1 million yen can be sold for 1.1 million yen.
    This brand is often used as an asset management because its value does not easily decline.

The high demand for antique Rolexes also shows the value of the brand. A Daytona owned by Paul Newman fetched 2 billion yen at auction!

Rolex started out as a watch wholesaler in London. Rolex started out as a watch wholesaler in London, where pocket watches were the mainstream, and it was this focus on watches that led to the growth of the brand.
While achieving success, the company introduced a series of watches with new functions. The popularity of the brand grew due to its high level of technology and design. Today, the brand has grown to become one of the world’s leading brands.
Thanks to the foresight of Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, Rolex is what it is today. The history of Rolex as the world’s number one watch brand will continue in spectacular fashion in the future.

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