Today, the name “Rolex” is recognized the world over as one of the most finely crafted precision timepieces available. But just how did the luxury watchmaker get its start?
It may surprise you to learn that the iconic Swiss watch brand worn on the wrists of some of the most famous people throughout history began not in Switzerland but as a small shop in London, England.
The Early Years
The Rolex we know today was the brainchild of one Hans Eberhard Wilhelm Wilsdorf, born in 1881 to Anna and Johann Wilsdorf.
Orphaned at a young age, Wilsdorf spent his early years in boarding school before setting out to travel the world and indulge his fascination with chronometry (the science of measuring time). He found employment with a few different watchmaking firms before deciding, at the age of 24, to open his own business.
In 1905, Wilsdorf moved to London and set up shop with his partner and brother-in-law, Alfred Davis. Rather than manufacturing their own timepieces, Wilsdorf & Davis, Ltd. imported premium watch parts from Switzerland and put them in custom-made cases; this would later change when they began to develop their own timepieces.
The Birth of a Legend
The name “Rolex” came about In 1908 when Wilsdorf decided he wanted to give their watch brand a simple moniker that was easy to remember. The name stuck, and in 1915 the company became Rolex Watch Co. Ltd.
“We want to be the first in the field and Rolex should be seen
as the one and only—the best.” – Hans Wilsdorf
Shortly after World War, I came to an end, Rolex moved its headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland, where it remains today. Since then, the company has achieved—and continues to achieve—countless “firsts” in precision watchmaking. The following are just a few examples.
In 1910, the Rolex wristwatch became the first to receive the Swiss Certificate Of Chronometric Precision—a distinction no other watch manufacturer at the time could claim.
Between 1926 and 1945, Rolex produced the world’s first airtight, dustproof, and waterproof wristwatch (the Oyster); established the first self-winding mechanism in the watch market (the Oyster Perpetual); and introduced the first self‑winding wrist chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial (the Day-Date).
In 2012, the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea Challenge set the record for the “deepest diving watch in the world.” It is certified waterproof up to 39,370 feet.
As new timepieces are introduced that push the boundaries of innovation and aesthetics, Rolex continues to hold a place among the most elite watch manufacturers in the world.
A Commitment to Excellence, in the Words of Hans Wildsdorf
When it comes to understanding the passion behind the creation of the Rolex watch brand, Wilsdorf himself said it best:
“On looking back into the past, I find that, in developing and extending my business, I have always had certain aims in mind, of course from which I never deviated. Perhaps these aims can be summarized as follows:
1.) To create watch designs suitable for both men and women.
2.) To standardize a range of movements of different sizes.
3.) To obtain so high a degree of quality, that our watches, whatever the caliber, should be recognized as “Chronometers” by the Observatories.
4.) To give current models the benefit of the results and improvements obtained with specially constructed high precision specimens.
5.) To maintain this high degree of precision by protecting the movements against the penetration of dust and impurities, the danger to which the wristwatch is particularly exposed.”
Why Trust Your Rolex Watch to Southwest Jewelry Buyers?
When you’re ready to sell, a timepiece as extraordinary as a Rolex deserves an appraiser who understands its unique value.
Southwest Jewelry Buyers has been in business for nearly two decades. We have earned an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, so you know you are selling your Rolex to a company you can trust. We also won the Spectrum Award For Best Customer Service From City Beat News.
When you come to Southwest Jewelry Buyers to sell your Rolex watch, you can feel confident knowing you are getting the highest level of service from the most knowledgeable, professional team of jewelry appraisal experts in the area.
Ready to meet with us?
Call Southwest Jewelry Buyers at 480-773-8004 or contact us here to schedule a no-obligation appraisal for your Rolex watch. Our one-on-one, by-appointment meetings ensure you receive our undivided attention, and there is never any obligation to sell.
Southwest Jewelry Buyers is not affiliated with Rolex S.A., Rolex USA, or any of its subsidiaries.