Edward Howkins, Jul 24 2020

Why Rolex?

Why Rolex?

Is Rolex a good brand?

Rolex is the world’s biggest watch brand. Some people think the brand is a bit-showy, whilst others think it is the poorer cousin of the holy trinity of watch making: Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet.

However, it has become one of the largest manufacturers of luxury wrist watches in the world. It’s rumoured that Rolex produce more than 1 million watches a year. Even so, many of Rolex’s models are difficult to buy new.

So why do people love Rolex?

A quick history of Rolex

Originally founded as Wilsdorf and Davis by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis in London, England in 1905, the company registered Rolex as the brand name of its watches in 1908 and became Rolex Watch Co. Ltd. in 1915. After WW1 the company relocated to Geneva to avoid the heavy taxation of post-war Britain.

What does Rolex mean?

The name Rolex was chosen for its relatively easy pronunciation in most languages, and some think it sounds like a watch being wound.

Why are Rolex watches so popular? Is Rolex a good brand?

Within the first few decades of its existence, Rolex settled upon three selling points that make it so popular today.

Rolex has focused on technical excellence:

We are used to waterproof, and dust-proof watches as standard now. We have Rolex to thank for this. Prior to the 1926 release of the Oyster, watches were leaky and fragile. The Oyster introduced a hermetically-sealed case that made the watch fully water proof. This was the first of a long list of Rolex’s technical innovations.

Rolex understands the value of marketing:

Consumers at the time didn’t believe that a watch could be fully waterproof. Which leads us on to Rolex’s second great skill. Marketing. Its logo is now instantly recognisable at sporting events all over the world, has been a watch of US presidents for 50 years. However, the marketing skill was long in the works. 

When they launched the Oyster, Rolex installed aquariums with fully submerged working Oyster watches in the windows of its key dealers. They followed this up with the watch industry’s first marketing stunt, and first ambassador. Mercedes Gleitze became the first woman to swim across the English channel. The brand took out a full page advert in the Daily Mail, highlighting the success of the watch during a ten-hour swim.

Rolex makes constant practical innovations

Not content with the honour of the first waterproof wristwatch, Rolex invented the first self-winding watch mechanism, using gravity for its energy generation. This rotor mechanism is the basis for all automatic watches in the industry today.

Rolex has taken this spirit of useful, practical innovation, and created a term: the tool watch. It makes watches for people to tell the time during tasks that rely upon accurate and reliable time-keeping.

  • Pilots have the Pepsi GMT for tracking flight time
  • Explorers have the Explorer (which has been to Everest on Hilary’s wrist)
  • Presidents – have the day-date
  • Travellers have the GMT for tracking a second time-zone
  • Divers have the highly water-proof and legible submariner and sea-dweller
  • Railway workers (or Scientists) have the Milgauss, which can withstand stronger magnets that the human body
  • Sailors have the anti-glare bezel of the Yachtmaster

Exploring these famous watches can be a fascinating route into understanding Rolex.

So whilst Rolex has never made one of the grand complications that would make it a truly high-end watch company (such as a Perpetual Calendar), it does make some of the most reliable, robust and practical watches for people who genuinely need them to tell the time during their day-to-day lives. Yes!  Rolex is a good brand

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