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.
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.