Many people understand the prestige that comes with ordering Rolex watches. Wearing a Rolex watch is wearing a name that says you are a person of class and taste. BusinessWeek Magazine rates it as number 71 out of 100 most valuable global brands. Knowing the historical background of the Rolex watch will help the collector appreciate why it is the most prominent name in the watch industry. When you wear a Rolex, you should be proud. You are reflecting the achievement and good character of the founder, Mr. Hans Wilsdorf.
How Rolex Was Born
Rolex was founded by a German man named Hans Wilsdorf, a man born into a family of iron merchants in the late 1800s. Orphaned at age 12 and consequently sent to a boarding school, these experiences refined him into a self-reliant and resilient man with outstanding character that would be displayed for the rest of his life. Hans and his business partner created the Wilsdorf and Davis company in 1905. They imported watch workings from Switzerland to England and placed them in high quality watch cases. The company name was changed to Rolex in 1915 simply because it made it easier to fit the name on the watch products.
A Pioneer in Quality
Rolex watches are known for their quality and innovation, almost as a reflection of Hans’ innovative character. In 1914, the Kew Observatory noticed the watches and their ability to keep time precisely and awarded it with a Class A Precision Certificate—an honor that was previously only awarded to marine chronometers. This shows that Rolex watches were precision instruments of the highest quality from the very beginning. In 1926, Rolex started selling the Oyster, the first waterproof watch. The Oyster was an important invention for the company because it addressed the need to be able to tell time in the pool, at the beach or even on the job for those who worked in wet conditions. When Mercedes Glietz announced she was going to swim the English Channel, Wilsdorf took the opportunity to prove that the Oyster could keep perfect time in the water. After 15 hours of swimming, she and her Rolex emerged with perfect time.
Wilsdorf: A Man of Character
While Wilsdorf was a genius business strategist; he never let his morals be compromised. He was viewed as a giving man who was involved in numerous efforts to help veterans and the poor. In 1944, Wilsdorf’s wife died, and he created the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation in which all of his Rolex shares and thus future profits were donated to charity. During World War II, the pilots and soldiers had their watches confiscated as POWs. Wilsdorf, upon hearing this, replaced all the watches that were confiscated and did not require payment until the end of the war. The officers felt appreciated and it is reported to have raised morale among the soldiers.