Provided by Rolex Canada Ltd.
Rolex is recognized the world over as the leader in Swiss watch-making, and enjoys an unparalleled reputation for quality and know-how.
The company was founded in 1905 by the pioneering and visionary spirit of Hans Wilsdorf. At that time the pocket watch was the order of the day, but Wilsdorf began to dream of a watch worn on the wrist. There were wristwatches but they were considered nothing more than items of jewellery for women and were not very reliable.
To convince the public of the reliability of these resolutely innovative timepieces, he equipped them with small, very precise movements manufactured by a Swiss watchmaking company in Bienne. In gold or silver, these watches caught the interest of modern sports-minded men and women all over the British Empire.
In 1908 Wilsdorf coined a brand name with which to sign his creations – Rolex. Easy to pronounce in any European language and short enough to fi t on the dial of a watch.
The Quest for Chronometric Precision
Untiringly seeking to improve their reliability, Hans Wilsdorf constantly submitted the Rolex wristwatch to tests by official quality-control organizations. This relentless quest for chronometric precision rapidly led to success. In 1910, a Rolex watch was awarded the first official Swiss certificate granted to a wristwatch by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne. Four years later, in 1914, the Kew Observatory in Great Britain awarded the Rolex wristwatch a class “A” precision certificate, a distinction which until that point had been reserved exclusively for marine chronometers.
The Birth of the Waterproof Watch
In 1926, a major step was taken with the creation of the first waterproof and dustproof watch. Named the “Oyster”, this watch featured a hermetically sealed case which, like a miniature safe, provided optimal protection for the movement.
The following year the Oyster crossed the English Channel unscathed worn by a young English swimmer, Mercedes Gleitze, whose support Wilsdorf had enlisted to endorse his product. This would mark only the first of a long list of testimonials from adventurous men and women; from achievers whose exploits and daring would, in time, be so closely associated with the superiority of the Rolex brand. On the occasion of this landmark event, Wilsdorf published an advertisement on the front page of the Daily Mail proclaiming the success of the waterproof watch and chronicling the debut of the Rolex Oyster and its triumphant march worldwide.
The Self-Winding Movement
The Oyster would soon boast yet another outstanding feature. The year 1931 witnessed the birth of the Perpetual rotor, a self-winding mechanism, which allowed the watch to run continuously as every flick of the wrist wound the movement. This system is at the origin of every modern automatic watch.
In no time the manual-wound watch would be outdated.
For Rolex, the world then became a living laboratory. In oceans, on high mountain tops, or wherever extreme conditions prevailed around the world, they served to test the excellence of watches equal to the task. As of the 1930s, the company issued Oyster Perpetual watches to numerous Himalayan expeditions setting out to conquer Everest.
Highly Prestigious Watches
As of the 1940s, Rolex also created highly prestigious watches worn by some of the world’s most influential people. In 1945, Rolex created the Datejust, the first wristwatch to indicate the date in a window on the dial. In 1956, the Day-Date was introduced. It was the first wristwatch in the world to show the date and the day of week spelt out in full.
The Professional Watches
In the early 1950s, thanks to the perfect mastery of chronometric precision and waterproofness, Rolex developed professional watches that served as tools and whose functions went far beyond simply telling the time. These watches were intended for new professional activities, such as deep-sea diving, aviation, mountain climbing and scientific c exploration. These watches generated lasting enthusiasm and asserted themselves as watches of achievement.
In 1953, equipped with an Oyster Perpetual, the expedition led by Sir John Hunt, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay was the first to reach the summit of Everest. Today, its successor, the exquisite Oyster Perpetual Explorer II is one of Rolex’s most popular models.
In 1960, Jacques Piccard’s submersible deep-sea research vessel plunged to a depth of 10,916 meters in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. An experimental Oyster prototype, the Deep Sea Special, fastened to its hull, withstood a pressure of over one ton per square centimeters.
This year the new Rolex DEEPSEA is a product of man’s inherent desire to push the boundaries of his dreams and his potential.
Waterproof to an extreme depth of 3,900 meters (12,800 feet), this new generation diver’s watch confirms the supremacy of Rolex in the mastery of waterproofness and demonstrates an ever-present pursuit of excellence. Entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex, the DEEPSEA is a totally new watch that benefits from important technical innovations. It is equipped with a
RINGLOCK SYSTEM, a new case architecture patented by Rolex, which allows the watch to resist the colossal pressure exerted by water at great depths. It is the first watch to feature a bracelet with a double extension system making it easily adaptable for greater comfort in wear over a diving suit.
Since it was founded a century ago, Rolex has championed individual excellence and achievement in all its activities. During the past three decades, the company has continued to recognize excellence through two unique philanthropic programs: from 1976, the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, and, from 2002, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, a global program that pairs emerging artists with masters in dance, film, literature, music, theatre and the visual arts for a year of intensive collaboration. Building on a legacy of supporting culture that dates back to the 1970s, when the company established unique relationships with many of the greatest living artists, Rolex launched the Arts Initiative to help ensure that artistic excellence is passed on to the next generation. Unparalleled in its artistic and geographic reach – over 200 notable talents from 39 countries have participated since its beginnings – the multidisciplinary initiative is currently in its fourth cycle.
By fostering innovation in science, exploration, conservation and the arts, both the Rolex Awards and the Rolex Arts Initiative advance the work of individuals who exemplify the vision, ingenuity and excellence that define the Rolex brand.
For more info on Rolex, visit their website at www.rolex.com.
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