Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches


Swiss luxury watch manufacturer

Founded as "Wilsdorf and Davis" by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis in London in 1905, the company registered "Rolex" as the brand name of its watches in 1908. Specialized in wristwatches since its inception, Rolex moved its base of operations to Geneva, Switzerland and quickly became one of the most prominent manufactures of watches in Switzerland. The Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, the private family trust owner of Rolex, also owns Montres Tudor SA.

Rolex is today one of the Swiss watch industry leading brands. Rolex has gained an impressive status of luxury, precision and robustness, with multiple purpose-built collections. The Geneva-based brand, which manufactures its watches almost entirely in-house (cases, dials, bracelets, movement – and even its own gold foundry), is often seen as the world’s most prominent watch brand.

Rolex Headquarters Geneva

The brand has invented and patented many of the features found now in modern watches, such as the date window, the waterproof case or the perpetual rotor for the winding system. Stability in collections is also key at Rolex, with most of the current models finding their roots in the 1950s and the 1960s. The brand holds some of the most iconic watches known, such as the Submariner (a dive watch), the GMT Master (a dual-time, traveller’s watch), the Datejust (a casual-elegant watch with date) or the Cosmograph Daytona (a racing chronograph).

Today, every watch produced by Rolex is mechanical and chronometer-rated. This combination of extreme precision and tried-and-tested robustness is also part of the success of Rolex.

Rolex watches have also become highly collectable, with some models reaching extremely high prices on the vintage market and on auctions – such as the Daytona worn by Paul Newman, the most expensive wristwatch ever auctioned.

History of Rolex

Founded as Wilsdorf and Davis, in London, by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis
Creation of the name Rolex by Wilsdorf
A Rolex watch was the first wristwatch to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision
Rolex moved to Geneva, changing its name to Montres Rolex S.A.
Creation of the "Oyster", the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch
A Rolex Oyster crossed the English Channel, worn by swimmer Mercedes Gleitze
The world's first self-winding mechanism with a Perpetual rotor is invented and patented by Rolex
Introduction of the Rolex Datejust, the first watch with the date in a window
Rolex at the summit of Mount Everest on the wrists of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
Introduction of the Rolex Explorer
Introduction of the Rolex Submariner, one of the most legendary dive watches
Introduction of the Rolex GMT Master
Introduction of the Rolex Day-Date
Introduction of the Rolex Milgauss
Creation of the Rolex Deep Sea Special, which successfully descended into the Mariana Trench.
Founder Hans Wilsdorf dies in Geneva, on July 6, 1960
Introduction of the Rolex Cosmograph
Introduction of the Rolex Sea-Dweller
Introduction of the Rolex Explorer II
Rolex starts using 904L steel known as "Oystersteel”
Rolex introduces its first automatic chronograph, the Calibre 4130
Rolex starts to equip its watches with Ceramic "Cerachrom" bezels
Rolex creates the blue Parachrom hairspring
Introduction of the Rolex Deep Sea
Introduction of the Rolex Sky-Dweller
Rolex becomes official timekeeper of the Formula 1