Rolex also invented and produced the first self-winding automatic mechanism in 1931, equipped with a mechanism for perpetual rotor
Imagine you are setting up a business and are in search of a name. You are tired and lost. Suddenly, the genie from Aladdin's Magic lamp gives you a name and your brand becomes so popular that you never had to look back again.
Wondering why a genie would come and name your business? Well, rumour has it that the name "Rolex" was given by a genie!
Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex Watch Company, claimed that the name was whispered to him by a genie when he was riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus along Cheapside in the city of London.
Whether the name came from a genie or not, the name Rolex is familiar to every watch lover out there and it is known for its precision, excellence and innovation. It is synonymous to luxury, and a historical time-teller brand that conquered both land and sea.
It has both climbed the Everest and dived deep into the Mariana Trench.
Well, the watch certainly did not climb Everest itself! And neither did the genie that named it played a role here.
During the early twentieth century, wrist watches were not considered masculine. Pocket watches were the symbol of masculinity and Wilsdorf wanted to prove this wrong. Thus, he gambled on the wrist watch and look where it is now! The watch is so irresistible that people would go gaga and spend thousands of dollars to get one.
Apart from riding and diving, and making people go gaga, Rolex also placed many things onto the wrists of people. For example, certified chronometers from 1910, first waterproof and dustproof watch of the world "Oyster" in 1926, and the first modern solo date indication square watch "Datejust" in 1945.
Rolex also invented and produced the first self-winding automatic mechanism in 1931, equipped with a mechanism for perpetual rotor. All Rolex watches today are self-winding.
Created in 1926, the Rolex Oyster was the first truly waterproof and dustproof wristwatch. It featured a hermetically sealed case that protects the watch from dust and water - just like the shell of the mollusc protects the Oyster from hazardous situations.
Rolex's crown logo was not introduced until the early 1930s, which is why the early Oyster models do not have the crown logo. The font and overall style of the watch, however, have not changed much over time.
There is also an interesting story. Though Rolex claimed that the Oyster was entirely a waterproof watch, the masses would not believe that a watch can indeed be waterproof. Thus, in 1927, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf famously gave Mercedes Gleitze one of the earliest Rolex Oysters to wear on her attempt to repeat her swim across the English Channel.
The watch was actually not worn by her on the wrist; it was worn around her neck area. It took Mercedes 10 hours to swim through the icy-cold English Channel. And after all this time, the watch was found to be dry inside, proving the claim of being a true waterproof time-teller.
In modern watches, we often see a square-shaped date indicator inside a watch, placed between the three and six hour dial. Rolex's "Datejust" was the first to introduce such a design.
Before the Datejust came along, the elements and technology to make it possible were already in place and in use by various watch companies. Calendar watches would often display the date around the dial's periphery with a centrally mounted hand to indicate it.
Rolex introduced the original Datejust in 1945 to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary. It was available only in 18 karats yellow gold and had a small bubble back winder with a deeply domed back.
Launched in 1945, the Datejust was the first self-winding chronometer wristwatch to indicate the date in a window on the dial. Today, it exists in a variety of sizes from 28mm to 41mm, in stainless steel, two-tone gold, and solid gold versions.
The window concept could also be found on such calendar watches where discs beneath the dial would display the month and day of the week. However, the watch was not equipped with the square-shaped date display.
History was made in 1953, as men were able to conquer the highest point of Earth. This year, Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man to summit Mount Everest along with his expedition partner Tenzing Norgay. And this is how a Rolex conquered the land.
Rolex sponsored the expedition and asked the team to wear it to the top and return it later so that Rolex could experiment more with it. Sir Hillary returned the watch after the expedition, but it is still unknown what tests it went through afterwards.
The Oyster Perpetual watch was produced in 1950, but it was never released for commercial purchase.
The watch is currently stored at Beyer Watch and Clock Museum in Zürich.
Enough about history. Let us take a look at some interesting facts that whirl around Rolex.
The first story begins at the beginning of World War II.
During the war, pilots from the Royal Air Force bought Rolex as a replacement to their inferior watches. These watches were later confiscated at the prisoner-of-war camp camps.
Hans Wilsdorf, on hearing about this, promised full replacement to the officers. Wilsdorf was personally in charge of the scheme and approximately 3,000 watches were replaced.
The next fact revolves around a famous murder case.
In the case, the Rolex on Ronald Platt's wrist eventually led to the arrest of his murderer, Albert Johnson Walker - a financial planner who had fled from Canada when he was charged with 18 counts of fraud, theft, and money laundering.
There are also myths and controversies interconnected with Rolex. A popular myth is that many of us think that Rolex is the most Luxurious watch out there. This is a false idea because brands like Patek Philippe or A. Lange & Söhne cost way more than a Rolex.
Among other controversies, you might often hear that Sir Hillary was wearing the Smiths De Luxe when he was on top of the world. This, however, is still unclear and unresolved as to which watch was worn; as the watch chronicler says both the watches were worn.