In 1905 Hans Wilsdorf at the age of 24 founded a company in London which specialised in distribution of timepieces choosing a company in Bienne who made high quality swiss movements... in 1908 Hans wanted to come up with a brand name that was short, easy to say and remember after going through some hundred odd names he chose ROLEX.
1910 saw the first wristwatch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric precision.
In 1919 Rolex moved to the city internationally renowned for watchmaking, Geneva.
Fast forward to 1926 when Rolex created the first waterproof and dustproof watch named ‘Oyster’. One year later in 1927 set to prove how waterproof they were a young English swimmer (Mercedes Gleitze) swam the English Channel. The swim lasted over 10 hours and the watch remained in perfect working order. She was also the first British woman to swim the channel.
In 1931 Rolex invented the world’s first selt-winding mechanism with a perpetual rotor.
1945 saw the launch of the flagship Datejust. It was the first self-winding watch to also indicate the date window on the dial. It has become the pillar of the Oyster collection.
(The Lady Datejust was later produced in 1957)
In 1953 the Submariner was launched. A divers’ watch waterproof up to 100 metres (330 feet) with a rotatable bezel allowing divers to read their immersion time. It was also the time of the first transcontinental flights.
The GMT-Master was developed in 1955 to meet the needs of airline pilots featuring a two-tone bezel to distinguish daytime from night.
In 1956 the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date became available in 18ct gold or platinum. It was the first watch to display both the day and the date with a president bracelet which was specially created for the watch.
Rolex also launched the Milgauss model which was designed to meet the demands of the scientific world. Made from ferromagnetic alloys to create a resistance of magnetic interference.
In 1963 the iconic Daytona was designed for endurance racing drivers featuring a tachymetric scale bezel on the bezel for calculating average speed.
The Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller was launched in 1967 to meet the needs of deep sea divers being waterproof up to 610 metres and including a helium escape valve.
In 1971 the Explorer II came along with its distinctive 24 hour hand dedicated to polar explorers when you can’t tell night from day.
1978 saw the launch of the Sea Dweller 4000, waterproof up to 1,220 metres (4,000 feet)
Rolex started to manufacture watches in their own 904L superalloy in 1985 now known as ‘Oystersteel’ which is comparable to precious metals for their anti-corrosion properties
Jumping forward to 1992 the Pearlmaster and the Yatch-Master were launched
In 2005 the Cerachrom bezel was developed fashioned from extremely hard ceramic material which is virtually resistant to scratches and the engraved 24 hour graduations are coated in a thin layer of platinum.
Rolex also introduced the blue Parachrom hairspring after 5 years of research which has ten times more resistance to shocks and unaffected by magnetic fields..
2007 saw the launch of the Yach-Master II followed by the Rolex Deepsea in 2008
Rolex presented the Sky-Dweller in 2012 made for the world traveller. It offers dual time zone and an annual calendar which only requires one date adjustment a year.