Rolex: King of watches
Rolex is without a doubt the world’s leading luxury watch manufacturer. The roots of Swiss based brand with the famous crown as its logo are found in England. The fundaments of Rolex were laid in 1902 by German watchmaker Hans Wilsdorf and his English brother-in-law Alfred Davis in London, England. The duo distributed timepieces to jewelers. Six years later Wilsdorf made a legendary move. It was 1908 when he registered ‘Rolex’ as a trademark and opened their first Switzerland office in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The Rolex mystery
The name Rolex has always been a bit of a mystery. Where does it come from? It has been said that Wilsdorf wanted an easy to pronounce name in every language. Also, the word ‘Rolex’ sounds like a watch movement being wound according to Wilsdorf. The founder also discovered that Switzerland was the best location to produce watch parts. So, in 1919 Rolex moved to Geneva and year later the company Rolex SA (for Société Anonyme, meaning limited company) was registered.
Nowadays Rolex still sounds like success and it’s still based in Geneva. The company has grown steadily over the years and according to Forbes, “Rolex is the leading name in luxury wristwatches” and the most valuable brand only focused on watchmaking. Rolex is an enigmatic company that is very different compared to other watch brands like Omega, Breitling or Patek Philippe. Rolex is not part of a luxury group like LVMH or Swatch Group, it’s also not publicly listed or owned by private shareholders. The Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, created in 1944 after the death of Wilsdorf’s wife, is the exclusive owner of Rolex. Hans Wilsdorf left all his shares to the foundation insuring that a part of the companies’ income would go to charity.
The innovative Oyster
Over the years Rolex created a long list of legendary watches. Watches with unique, and sometimes world’s first features. The Day-Date for instance was the first wristwatch that would automatically change the date and day on the dial. Another remarkable innovation was the introduction of the so-called waterproof Oyster case in 1926. The modern-day Submariner with its sturdy Oyster case stems directly from that innovative first design.
The wide range of Rolex models for men and ladies are geared towards specific types of wearers. For example, if you are the sporty type that enjoys swimming, the waterproof Submariner may be the best choice. If you’re a frequent flyer the practical GMT Master II with the ability to show 3 different time-zones simultaneously, is the watch for you. And for sailing enthusiasts, the Yacht-Master II, a regatta chronograph built for timing a yacht race, is the best choice. The fabulously feminine Pearlmaster is Rolex’s crowning jewelry watch for splendorous occasions.
Most expensive watch ever sold
The story of Rolex is filled with superlatives. For instance, did you know the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at an auction is a Rolex? Paul Newman’s personal Daytona chronograph was recently hammered off at 17,8 million USD. That result says something about the fame of the late American actor, but it also says something about the reputation of the watch itself.
Rolex’ reputation is rock-solid and that will remain the case for a long time coming. The history of Rolex is an endless source of inspiration, the future is guaranteed because of the strength of the company, and the future-proof watches are made to the highest quality standards. This means that both a vintage Rolex, or a more recent pre-owned model will hold their value and that’s quite unique in the world of luxury watches.
Is a Rolex an investment?
‘So, if I buy a Rolex watch and it holds its value, it must be a great investment then?’ To be honest, when people talk about watches as “investments” they are misusing the word. Buying low and selling high doesn’t work that well with watches in general. Let’s use this example. When you invest 10,000 Euro in mutual funds and you’re getting maybe 2 - 4% return on your investment a year, you will make around 300 Euro income a year produced by your investment. A 10,000 Euro Rolex or any other watch, won’t do that. But what a Rolex will do is hold its value extremely well – it could even appreciate in some cases.
So, if you are looking for investment opportunities, a luxury wristwatch is not a good one. But if you are passionate about watches and you really want to buy a luxury wrist watch, then a Rolex is an excellent and sensible choice. A Rolex will retain its value more than 99.9% of all the other brands. Rolex has spent decades painstakingly creating the image that a Rolex watch is a sign of success. And on top of that it’s also a very, very good watch. A Rolex will stay in demand and will keep on ticking for years and years to come. With a Rolex quality is king.