Remember that old saying about pornography? You know it when you see it. Well, the same thing can be said about class. And when you look at a genuine Rolex wristwatch you just know you are in the presence of real class. Very few luxury items are able to boast an aura of understated style the way a Rolex can. A Bugatti Veyron, maybe. Or perhaps a bottle of Bollinger Vieilles Vignes. But whereas the Bugatti can, in the wrong light, appear bombastic and brash, and the Bollinger suggestive and smug, there’s nothing smug nor brash about strapping a Rolex around your wrist.
Rolex: A Bloody Good Watch
But of course, when the conversation turns to Rolex, you’re talking about more than just luxury. Rolex is functionality over fashion, elegance as opposed to elitism. There’s history here too. And innovation. It was way back in early 1900’s London when Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis founded a company with the sole goal of dragging chronographs out of the dark ages to create a wristwatch that took timekeeping accuracy to previously unimaginable levels. But Wilsdorf’s vision didn’t stop there.
In 1919 the company moved to Switzerland where seven years later they unveiled the ‘Oyster’, the world’s very first dust and waterproof wristwatch. And as if to prove the point, in 1927, an ‘Oyster’ was the watch of choice for Mercedes Gleitze, a young athlete from Brighton who took an ‘Oyster’ with her on a swim across the English Channel, although she reportedly wore it around her neck and not her wrist.
With the cross-channel challenge successfully completed, Wilsdorf’s watches began to earn the admiration of the wider public, but he did not rest there. In 1931 Rolex invented the first self-winding mechanism, and the so-called Perpetual rotor is still at the heart of almost every modern wristwatch.
There’s more, of course. We wouldn’t be talking about the brand if there wasn’t. The first flight over Mt. Everest; Sir Malcolm Campbell’s land speed record; first transcontinental airline flights; the first dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The list is endless. And on all of these momentous occasions, Rolex was on board.
And then there are the names; the Oyster Perpetual Explorer; the Submariner; GMT Master; the Oyster Perpetual Milgauss; Lady Datejust; Deep Sea Special; the Cosmograph Daytona; the Sea Dweller; Pearlmaster; Yacht Master… No other brand has ever played such an integral role in human endeavour and historic achievement as a Rolex wristwatch. And it is this rich legacy that makes a Rolex what it is today. Not brash. Not smug. Just elegant, practical, and a bloody good watch.