Featured numerous times in Forbes’ top lists for the most powerful companies in the world, Rolex has become an unprecedented leader in the luxury watch industry with revenue of over 4.6 billion US dollars. However, it wasn’t always like that. The company represents dedication and craftsmanship of over a century to be in the position it is at today.
Started in London’s Hatton Garden in 1905 by Alfred Davis and his entrepreneurial brother-in-law Hans Wilsdorf, the brand that was originally named Wilsdorf and Davis in the name of its founders, the watchmaker later registered as Rolex in 1908 and became Rolex Watch Co. Ltd. in 1915
After the first world war, the company moved its headquarters to Switzerland’s Geneva in order to avoid the heavy tax system that the British government implemented post-war. In 1920, Hans Wilsdorf registered Montres Rolex SA in Geneva which then became Rolex SA.
Facing pressure from the public due to the infiltration of dust and moisture under the crown which damaged the movement, in 1926, Wilsdorf heavily shifted the company’s attention to the technical side of the watches. Shortly after, Rolex developed and produced the very first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch popularly known as the “Oyster”. The watch hosts a hermetically sealed case which provides maximum protection for the movement, which essentially made the watch a timeless lifetime piece.
Due to the rising success of the company over the decades, since 1960, after the passing of Hans Wilsdorf, the brand was privately owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, a private family trust that heavily contributes towards charities and social causes in Geneva.
A whole decade later, Rolex continued to inspire and dedicate their masterpieces to a range of different events and causes like “The Explorer II” which Rolex launched in 1971. This watch was dedicated to polar explorers, speleologists, and all those pushing the boundaries of exploration around the world.
A whole two decades later, in 1992, the Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master arrived to reinforce the ties between Rolex and the sailing world after the brand proudly sponsored some of the world’s most renowned offshore races.
Twenty years later, in 2012, Rolex participated in the Deepsea Challenge with the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea Challenge watch which went over 12km underwater. This waterproof watch was designed and built by Rolex to resist the most extreme water pressure on Earth, setting the record for the deepest diving watch ever created.
Besides all of these tremendous achievements over the decades, to solidify its reputation on the market, the brand was featured in a number of classic movies that remain prevalent to date. Furthermore, with the rise of social media and attention generated by some of the most luxurious and money-driven sports in the world, Rolex endorsed celebrities like Roger Federer, Jordan Spieth, and Phil Mickelsen. Moreover, Rolex are also actively sponsoring luxury sporting events in the likes of Wimbledon, F1’s Grand Prix, and PGA Tour.
The brands remarkable advertising and promotional methods contributed towards records that Rolex holds to this day for some of the most expensive watches ever sold like Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona which was sold at an auction for the staggering 17,752,500 US dollars in late 2017 to an anonymous buyer who paid 13 times the asking price.
The superstar of the watch industry: Rolex produces over 2,000 handmade pieces each day and generates over 4.6 billion US dollars annually, making it the leading choice for timeless pieces amongst consumers from all generations and corners of the world.