Rolex: From Founder Hans Wilsdorf to Today’s Iconic Watches

Rolex: From Founder Hans Wilsdorf to Today’s Iconic Watches

Rolex: From Founder Hans Wilsdorf to Today's Iconic Watches

Rolex is a name that is synonymous with luxury, precision, and style. The brand has a rich history, dating back to its founding by Hans Wilsdorf in the early 20th century. Today, Rolex is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, with its watches worn by celebrities, athletes, and high-powered businesspeople. In this article, we will explore the history of Rolex, from its founding to the iconic watches of today.

The Early Years: Hans Wilsdorf and the Founding of Rolex

Hans Wilsdorf was born in Germany in 1881 and moved to Switzerland at the age of 19 to work for a watch exporter. It was there that he developed his passion for watches and saw the potential for creating a high-quality, precision timepiece that could be worn on the wrist. At the time, pocket watches were the norm, and wristwatches were considered unreliable and inaccurate.

In 1905, Wilsdorf founded the company that would become Rolex with his brother-in-law, Alfred Davis. The two men began by importing movements from Switzerland and casing them in England. They initially called their brand "Wilsdorf & Davis," but Wilsdorf had bigger plans for the company.

In 1908, Hans Wilsdorf's company registered the trademark "Rolex," a name chosen for its brevity, ease of pronunciation in any language, and memorability. It is said that he chose the name because he wanted a word that could be spoken quickly, but that also sounded like a watch being wound.

In the years that followed, Rolex continued to innovate and set the standard for precision and durability in watchmaking. In 1910, a Rolex watch became the first wristwatch to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, a testament to its accuracy and reliability.

The Birth of Iconic Watches: The Rolex Submariner and the Rolex Daytona

Throughout the 20th century, Rolex continued to innovate and create watches that were not only precise and durable but also stylish and iconic, according to The Watch Exchange London. Two of the most famous Rolex watches were introduced in the 1950s and 1960s: the Rolex Submariner and the Rolex Daytona.

The Rolex Submariner, first introduced in 1953, was designed as a diver's watch and quickly became a favourite of professional divers and submariners. It's sleek design and robust construction made it a popular choice for anyone looking for a high-quality, reliable watch.

The Rolex Daytona, first introduced in 1963, was designed specifically for race car drivers and quickly became an iconic watch in its own right. Its chronograph function and tachymeter scale made it an essential tool for timing races and other sporting events.

Today's Rolex Watches: Combining Tradition and Innovation

Today, Rolex continues to be a leader in the luxury watch industry, with a range of iconic watches that combine tradition and innovation. The brand's commitment to precision and durability is still at the heart of every watch it creates, but Rolex has also embraced new materials and technologies to create watches that are both stylish and functional.

One example of this is the Rolex GMT-Master II, introduced in 1983. This watch was designed for pilots and features a second-time zone and a rotating bezel that can be used to track a third time zone. The watch also uses Rolex's patented Cerachrom ceramic bezel insert, which is highly scratch-resistant and impervious to fading.

Another example is the Rolex Sky-Dweller, introduced in 2012. This watch features a dual time zone display and an annual calendar function that automatically adjusts for the length of the month. The watch also uses Rolex's Oyster case and bracelet, which are known for their durability and water resistance.

Rolex has also continued to innovate in the area of materials science. The brand has developed its exclusive materials, such as Rolesor, which is a combination of stainless steel and gold, and Everose, a rose gold alloy that is exclusive to Rolex. These materials are not only beautiful but also durable and resistant to corrosion.

Rolex has also embraced new technologies, such as the use of high-tech ceramic and titanium in its watches. These materials are lightweight and incredibly strong, making them ideal for use in sports watches.


In conclusion, Rolex has had a remarkable journey from its humble beginnings to the global brand it is today. The brand has set a standard for luxury and precision that few others can match, and it continues to push the boundaries of watchmaking with its innovative materials, technologies, and designs. Rolex watches are not just timepieces; they are symbols of excellence, craftsmanship, and enduring style.