'From the top of the world to the bottom of the sea, Rolex proves dependable'Rolex advertisement, 1954

Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, Rolex have always been a manufacturer of firsts; first wristwatch to receive Chronometer certification, first with automatically changing date, first with an oscillating winding rotor as is still used today and the first waterproof wristwatch too. Can any other manufacturer boast this much provenance?

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Rolex History

The History of Rolex Watches

Stop anyone on the street and ask them to name a luxury brand and Rolex watches will often be your answer, and in particular the Rolex Submariner. The kind of recognition Rolex watches get is not earned overnight, but is the product of over one hundred years of dedication and skill.

Formed in 1908 by watchmaker Hans Wilsdorf, Rolex watches have scaled not only the ever-growing peaks of technological advancement, but also peaks of a much more geological nature too. From the Rolex Deepsea special in depths of the Marina Trench, to the Rolex Explorer in the thin atmosphere of Mount Everest's Peak, to the Rolex GMT-Master in no atmosphere at all on the moon - Rolex watches have been there. Where precision and robustness are required, you need look no further than Rolex watches.

The fastidious nature to perform better than its competitors started when a Rolex watch became the first ever wristwatch to receive the Swiss Certificate of precision in 1910, and then a class 'A' precision certificate from Kew Observatory four years later, an award that was previously reserved only for marine chronometers.

The advancements continued; in 1927, Mercedes Gleitze swam the English Channel, wearing none-other than the first waterproof watch, the Rolex Oyster, designed and built by Rolex. With such features as a screw-down crown and a precision milled crystal, it pioneered the modern dive watch. As Mercedes emerged from the freezing waters, so too did the Rolex Oyster, and in perfect working order. The publicity that followed launched the Rolex brand ever further.

In 1931, the self-winding Rolex Perpetual movement was patented - a simple yet ingenious design that continues to power every automatic watch to this day. Previous designs by other manufacturers had proven to be too awkward, too clumsy, or just plain unreliable. The Rolex Perpetual movement solved all this, whilst producing longer power reserves and more accurate timing. Utilising a system of ratchets and clutches, an oscillating weight had the ability to rotate a full 360 degrees within the watch casing, winding the watch with the wearer's movements. Staying ever ahead of the game, a self-changing date came next in 1945 for the Rolex Datejust, and a self-changing day was added in 1956 for the Rolex Day-Date.

As well as stretching the boundaries of innovation, Rolex also pushes the envelope when it comes to real world testing. After the launch of the iconic Rolex Submariner in 1953, a marvel in its own right with the ability to function at a depth of 330 feet under water, Jacques Piccard travelled 35,814 feet to the bottom of the Marina Trench, taking with him a prototype Rolex Deepsea. It was strapped to the outside of his submarine. It survived.

Is if that wasn't proof enough of the rugged survivability of Rolex watches, Sherpa guide Tensing Norgay exposed his Rolex Explorer to the bitter winds and freezing storms of the 1953 expedition to the peak of Everest. A Rolex GMT-Master was even taken to the moon.

Rolex is more than just a high-street fashion name - it produces beautiful watches with a fine calibre, but it also commands a pedigree that can only be dreamed of by other manufacturers. It is, and was, and always will be, iconic.

Rolex Series

Rolex Air-King

After World War Two, Rolex offered a manual wind watch that found popularity with air-force pilots in several guises... read more

Rolex Cellini

The Cellini range pays homage to the painter, sculptor, musician and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, an Italian whose... read more

Rolex Datejust

Rolex pushed the watchmaking envelope when they introduced the world's first self-changing date in the 1945 Rolex Datejust... read more

Rolex Day-Date

As pioneering watchmakers, Rolex led the market from the front with its continuing technological triumphs. The 1956... read more

Rolex Daytona

Named after the Daytona International Speedway in Florida, the Rolex Daytona is a racing chronograph designed for... read more

Rolex Explorer

When Everest was conquered for the first time by John Hunt and Edmund Hillary, the Sherpa guide that led them, Tenzing... read more

Rolex GMT-Master

The need for the ability to track several time zones at once was no greater than when air travel company Pan-Am began... read more

Rolex Milgauss

Developed so scientists could keep track of time in electromagnetic environments, the Rolex Milgauss had a magnetic... read more

Rolex Pearlmaster

For the lady that loves precious metals and diamonds, and wants a watch a little larger than the standard Rolex Lady-Datejust... read more

Rolex Perpetual

Originally invented in 1770 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the first self-winding movement was crude and unworkable... read more

Rolex Precision

Rolex was proud that Rolex watches were pushing the boundaries of watchmaking, and that included their fabled... read more

Rolex Sea-Dweller

The first Rolex Sea-Dweller was a joint development between Rolex watches, COMEX and the U.S. Navy SEALABS... read more

Rolex Submariner

Diving had become revolutionised in the 1950's by Jacques Cousteau's invention, the aqua-lung, which made diving... read more

Rolex Yacht-Master

Rumoured to be a replacement for the Rolex Submariner that was considered too dramatic a change right at the last minute... read more

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