Coronation of the King. How Rolex became watch king

Coronation of the King. How Rolex became watch king

The Rolex watch brand is undoubtedly the most recognizable and coveted watch brand in the world. But how did a small Swiss watch company established in 1905 grow into the giant of luxury watches that it is today? Here's a look at Rolex's fascinating history and meteoric rise to watch royalty.


Rolex was founded in 1905 in London by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis. It was originally named Wilsdorf & Davis, and they specialized in distributing watches. The company moved to Geneva, Switzerland in 1919 due to the country's reputation for fine watchmaking. By this time, Rolex had pioneered the first waterproof wristwatch - the Oyster. This innovation catapulted the brand's popularity.

Inventions that Shook the Industry

Rolex made history in 1926 with the first waterproof and dustproof watch called the "Oyster." This groundbreaking invention paved the way for Rolex's future as a leading brand for durable and reliable timepieces. In 1931, Rolex created the first self-winding mechanism called the "Perpetual rotor." This eliminated the need to wind watches manually. Rolex debuted the first "Datejust" watch in 1945, displaying the date automatically in a small window on the dial.

Conquering Land, Sea, and Air

Rolex sponsorships and testimonials helped cement its reputation for superior accuracy and durability. In 1927, Mercedes Gleitze wore a Rolex Oyster when she swam the English Channel. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay wore Rolex Oysters during their successful ascent of Mt. Everest. Rolex timepieces accompanied deep sea dives, North and South Pole expeditions, and transatlantic flights, proving they could withstand the most extreme conditions.

A Crown for the King

With its continued technical innovations, meticulous craftsmanship, recognizable design, and clever marketing, Rolex achieved luxury watch dominance by the 1960s. The brand became aspirational while retaining an air of exclusivity. Buying a Rolex watch signaled prestige and status. Rolex's numerous celebrity and high-profile endorsements over the decades, from professional golfers to famous actors, have also contributed to elevating the brand. Today, Rolex is the world's largest luxury watchmaker, producing roughly 2,000 watches per day. The crown-wearing "King of Watches" shows no signs of leaving its throne anytime soon.

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