5 Interesting Things To Know About Rolex

Collector’s Guides • 28 Sep 2015

5 Interesting Things To Know About Rolex

Rolex and luxury watches are almost synonymous. Although Rolex watches are famous and are known worldwide as a luxury good, their watches are also known for their quality with highly precise, accurate and reliable timekeeping. Here are five interesting facts about this world-renowned watchmaker.

Rolex did not originate from Switzerland

Rolex was originated in London in 1905.

Today, Rolex is undeniably recognized as one of the great Swiss watchmakers and brands. However, it is a little known fact that Rolex was actually started in London in 1905. Hans Wilsdorf, together with his English brother-in-law, Alfred Davis, started a watch assembly business using Swiss-made watch parts.

As business grew, they began manufacturing the watches themselves.  Most of the best watch craftsmen were located in Switzerland at the time so that was naturally where they opened their manufacturing office as business boomed.

Eventually, they moved everything over to Geneva in 1919 and Rolex has been there ever since.

The name came about for practicality

Hans Wilsdorf Founder Of Rolex
Mr Hans Wilsdorf, Founder Of Rolex. (Credits: Rolexmagazine)

One might assume that ‘Rolex’ has something to do with watches or horology in a foreign language, but it does not. The name was simply made up for extremely practical reasons. Rolex was a word considered short enough and suitable for placement on a watch face.

When asked, Wilsdorf simply responded that he wanted his watch brand to be easily pronounceable in any language. It is rumoured that he thought the word ‘Rolex’ to resemble the sound a watch makes as it is wound.

Rolex watches grew extremely popular during World War II 

Rolex_British Wellington Pilots
British Wellington Pilots.

During World War Two, British pilots frequently replaced their inferior standard-issue watches with Rolex watches because of it’s superior accuracy. This made them extremely attractive to German guards at prisoner-of-war camps who confiscated them from those captured pilots.

Upon hearing this, Wilsdorf personally guaranteed a replacement for each Rolex watch confiscated. More than 3,000 Rolex watches were replaced and this goodwill thus raised the morale among the Allied POWs. American servicemen who interned with their British counterparts heard about this goodwill deed and helped raise the profile and worldwide popularity of Rolex after the war.

Rolex uses a more expensive grade of steel, the 904L

Rolex_904L steel_higher quality steel
Rolex uses higher quality steel which enables the watch to retain its polished shine. (Credits: Davidsw)

The people at Rolex place great emphasis in quality and material strength of their products that in 2003, they ditched the industry-standard 316L stainless steel used by most watchmakers in favor of a more expensive steel of higher quality; the 904L. 904L steel has a higher level of nickel, making the steel much more corrosion resistant. Thus, a Rolex watch is able to retain its polished shine even when subjected to the harshest conditions. However, the transition from 316L to 904L stainless steel required a refit of their factory with new metal milling machines and tools, as the 904L steel is more complicated to machine. This probably explains why other watchmakers are reluctant to initiate such a change. All this was done to achieve the elusive long lasting polished shine, showing the lengths Rolex would go to ensure their watches are of utmost quality.

A Rolex Watch Takes About a Year to be Made

Finally, despite rolling out thousands of watches every year from its factory, each Rolex watch is still individually crafted.  There is the same hallmark dedication to quality; each individual watch is rigorously tested in stress and pressure tests to ensure they meet Rolex’s high standards.  This tradition of excellence continues today and this is probably why Rolex remains a coveted brand by watch enthusiasts all around the world.

The Hour Glass is an official jeweler and retailer for Rolex.

Images and Video Courtesy of the Rolex Official Site and License Free Commons Images.



If you’re interested in Rolex Watches, you can find more information by visiting us at any one of our boutiques, speaking with our Sales Consultant or simply click here.

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