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The History of Rolex

AATime
-A UK based site that specialises in buying and selling authentic new and second-hand Ladies and Gents timepieces, including Rolex watches. These watches are often sold at a discount price. AATime also have a workshop where repairs to your watch can be carried out, generally cheaper than High Street prices.

The Rolex Watch Company

The Rolex Watch company is famous for many styles of watch including the Daytona, Explorer, GMT Master, Submariner, Yacht Master, Day Date, Date Just, Masterpiece and Special Edition. Indeed, many have been copied and there exist many replicas on the market place today. Check out the official Rolex website to view their watches, past and present.

The Rolex Watch company was founded by Hans Wildorf in 1905. He was an apprentice at a watch exporting firm at La Chaux de Fonds, France and later set up business on his own. At this time, his company was called 'Wilsdorf and Davies'. His first watch was a leather wrist watch, but at that time men carried pocket watches and wrist watches were deemed to be for women. Wilsdorf persevered, trying out new movements and styles, and before long wrist watches became fashionable. Wilsdorf and Davies soon became the leading watchmakers in the UK.

Wilsdorf wanted to create a brand name, and eventually chose the name Rolex in 1908, which he derived from the words 'Horlogerie Exquise' (meaning exquisite watches).

In 1910, Rolex received "Official Chronometer Certification" from the Bureau Officiel in Switzerland. This was the first time that this accolade had even been achieved by a watch.

In 1926 the Rolex Oyster was released, which was the first waterproof watch. Wilsdorf sponsored the female swimmer Mercedes Gleitze in 1927 when she swam across the English Channel wearing a Rolex, and the watch remained unscathed.

Other key dates:

  • 1931 - The Perpetual Rotor mechanism was created. This was the forerunner of today's self winding mechanisms.

  • 1954 - The Oyster Perpetual Ladydate was released.

  • 1955 - The GMT Master was released

  • 1956 - The first Day Date was released.

  • 1960 - Rolex developed a deep sea special which was plunged nearly 11,000m into the sea.

  • 1963 - Andre J Heiniger took over the company

  • 1971 - The Oyster Perpetual Explorer II was launched. It had an additional orange hand that did one revolution every 24 hours to indicate day or night time.

  • 1979 - Rolex became the official timekeeper at Wimbledon.

  • 2005 - The Prince was launched

Which straps are available for Rolex watches?

Three different designs for the straps have been produced, namely the Jubilee, Oyster and President. The Jubilee is primarily found on the Datejust and can be made from stainless steel, 18 ct gold and platinum. Links can be added and removed for a perfect fit. The Oyster is normally found on the Daytona, Explorer and Submariner and has two different styles of clasp. There are three types of Oyster strap - the current version which has solid links and is strong, the folded Oyster and the rivet Oyster. The President strap features a concealed catch. It reportedly got its name "President" when one was given to the then US president, Dwight Eisenhower.