Before Rolex was Rolex it was a small, quality watch suppliers to major London jewellers, run by Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis. Wilsdorf & Davies was founded in 1905 and by 1908 had become one of the leading watch companies in the UK.
The famous trademark name ‘Rolex’ was first coined in 1908, but it wasn’t registered until November 5th 1915.
Four years later in 1919 the company officially relocated its head office to Geneva, Switzerland.
It was in Geneva in 1925 that the signature crown or coronet trademark was established and began appearing on all Rolex models as a symbol of excellence and quality.
The strength and success of the Rolex brand is very much the legacy of one man: Hans Wilsdorf. Even today the business, which is considered to be among the world’s most valuable brands, with annual revenues exceeding $3billion, still runs under the direction of the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation.
Awards and Rolex
The first of many awards for Rolex watches was the Official Chronometer Certification from the “Bureau Officiel” in Switzerland. Received in 1910, it was the first time this certification had ever been awarded to a wristwatch.
In 1914 Rolex received the Class A Precision from the Kew Observatory, a distinction ordinarily unique to marine chronometers.
By 1934, Rolex had become the first watch company to receive class certificates from all four of the main observatories: Kew, Geneva, Neuchatel, and Besancon.
Did you know?
- There are 170 Rolex models available in approximately 3,200 combinations!
- The ‘Oyster’ models are so named because Hans Wisdorf was inspired whilst opening an oyster in a restaurant; the process of opening the casing requires specialist, precision tools and is not dissimilar to opening an oyster.
- During World War II many officers Rolex’s were confiscated in POW camps. Hans Wilsdorf instigated a scheme whereby if they wrote to Rolex and explaind the circumstances, their watches were replaced, with no need for payment until after the war. It’s estimated that over 3,000 watches were ordered from POW camps in Bavaria alone. This had a tremendous impact on morale; it served as a clear indication that Wilsdorf didn’t think the Nazis would win the war.
So, there’s a brief history of Rolex watches, and the Rolex watch company. We’ve added some more useful information below to help you if you own a Rolex.
Taking care of your Rolex
Owning a Rolex is like owning a little piece of history; a symbol of status, of achievement and of an appreciation for quality and technical precision. If you are lucky enough to do so make sure you look after it so that it can passed to future generations.
Always keep proof of purchase and any subsequent valuations somewhere safe, along with any identifying details such as engravings and where possible take a photo of your watch. This is especially useful in the event of theft as it can help return your Rolex to you if it is recovered.
Insure it correctly, either on a single item policy or as part of your home and contents policy. Depending on the value of your Rolex and other jewellery and valuables, you may wish to consider a higher value insurance policy, to ensure adequate watch insurance cover at the most competitive rates.