Black dial and bezel Submariner with a two-tone Silver and Gold bracelet
Brand Spotlights

30 Fascinating Facts About Rolex

Monday, November 6th, 2023

Rolex stands atop the watchmaking world with an unrivaled reputation for innovation, quality, and prestige. But behind this powerhouse brand lies over a century of groundbreaking achievements and intriguing stories. Let’s dive into Rolex’s remarkable history with these fascinating facts: 

  • Hans Wilsdorf Founded Rolex in 1905 – Rolex traces its origins to 1905 when 24-year-old Hans Wilsdorf established a watch company in London.
  • Swiss Made – In 1908, Wilsdorf moved Rolex headquarters to Switzerland due to its horology prowess. By 1920, Rolex became the first watch company with “Swiss Made” on dials. 
  • First Waterproof Watch – The 1926 Rolex Oyster became the world’s first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch thanks to its revolutionary case architecture. 
  • Cross-Channel Swimmer – In 1927, Mercedes Gleitze wore a Rolex Oyster when she swam the English Channel, proving its unprecedented water resistance. 
  • First Self-Winding Watch – The Rolex Perpetual of 1931 was the first self-winding wristwatch incorporating an automatic rotor mechanism.
  • Superlative Chronometer – In the 1940s, Rolex pioneered the Superlative Chronometer designation for watches exceeding even chronometer standards for precision. 
  • Pan Am’s Choice – In 1954, Pan Am chose Rolex to make the iconic dual time zone GMT-Master for its pilots. 
  • James Bond’s Watch – The ultra-durable Rolex Submariner became globally famous after James Bond wore it in early 007 films. 
  • Presidential Timepiece – The Day-Date rose to prominence after U.S. presidents like Eisenhower, Johnson, and Reagan wore the luxury model. 
  • Deep Sea Pioneer – The experimental Rolex Deep Sea Special prototype watch reached an unprecedented depth of 10,916 meters (35,814 feet) in 1960. 
  • Most Precise Clock – Rolex built the ultra-precise cesium atomic clock that served as Switzerland’s national time standard housed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology. 
  • Quartz Crisis Survivor – During the 1970s Quartz Crisis that threatened mechanical watches, Rolex remained steadfastly committed to expert in-house watchmaking. 
  • Chinese Market Revival – When the Chinese market reopened in the 1990s, demand for Rolex watches boomed, fueling expanded production. 
  • Record Wristwatch Sale – In 2017, Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona became the highest priced wristwatch ever auctioned, selling for $17.8 million. 
  • Billion Dollar Valuation – Rolex’s privately-held company is conservatively estimated to be worth over $13 billion, making it the world’s most valuable watch brand. 
  • Hollywood Favorite – In addition to James Bond, Rolex watches have appeared in over 1,000 films from classics like Apocalypse Now to recent hits including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 
  • Sporting Giants – Tennis ace Roger Federer and golf legend Tiger Woods are among the many elite athletes proudly sponsored by Rolex. 
  • Official Olympic Timekeepers – Rolex has been the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games 16 times starting in 1932. 
  • Certified Status Symbol – While not technically a certification, the unofficial green hang tag that comes on every new Rolex is iconic in its own right. 
  • No Logo Quartz – When Rolex briefly produced quartz watches in the 1970s-1980s, they deliberately omitted the Rolex name on dials until they could make quartz watches they deemed worthy of the crown logo. 
  • Whole Wheat Pi– The Rolex Milgauss was designed to withstand magnetic fields up to 1000 gauss thanks to its specialized anti-magnetic movement. 
  • The War Rig– In 2015, a steel Rolex Daytona played a starring role alongside Tom Hardy in the blockbuster film Mad Max: Fury Road. 
  • Cinema Royalty – Christopher Walken prominently wore his Rolex throughout the 1978 film The Deer Hunter, helping cement Rolex as a symbol of masculinity in cinema. 
  • The Vatican’s Gift – In the 1990s, Rolex gifted 150 of its priciest gold Day-Date watches to Vatican City, which the church uses as gifts for honored dignitaries. 
  • Experimental Deep Diver – The experimental Rolex Deepsea Challenge prototype accompanied filmmaker James Cameron on his record-setting 2012 Mariana Trench dive. 
  • Purpose-Built Movements – Rolex exclusively uses in-house movements specifically designed and assembled for Rolex watches rather than outsourced ébauches. 
  • Flipper’s Watch – A Rolex Sea-Dweller made a cameo appearance in the 1960s TV show, Flipper. 
  • Most Accurate Mechanical Watch – The Rolex Superlative Chronometer certification means COSC-certified Rolex watches surpass even standard chronometers in precision, accuracy and reliability. 
  • Royal Warrant Holder – Rolex has held a royal warrant from the British monarchy since the 1950s as official watchmakers to Queen Elizabeth II. 
  • Epitome of Luxury – While not the most expensive watch, the gold Rolex Day-Date is globally recognized as the quintessential luxury timepiece. 
  • A Company Obsessed with Innovation – Over 40 watchmaking innovations and 2,500 patents have come from Rolex throughout its history. 

Clearly, Rolex sits at the apex of watchmaking thanks to its rich heritage of meaningful innovations paired with world-class manufacturing. For over a century, Rolex has relentlessly pushed new frontiers in its eternal pursuit of perfection. These fascinating facts reveal just a portion of the remarkable Rolex story that continues to be written. When it comes to luxury timepieces, Rolex is the benchmark and the legend against which all others are measured.