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Interesting facts about Rolex you didn’t know

Not only is Rolex a luxury brand with timeless styles and collections, but they also have a very interesting way of going about their business. There is a whole greater world beyond the accessory that goes farther than the design and model that you get to wear. Below, this article lists several interesting facts about interesting facts you didn’t know about Rolex, from getting a better understanding of the founders to how Rolex has shaped history.


Interesting Facts about Rolex and the Founders

  • Rolex was not originally Swiss. While currently they are based in Switzerland, the company was founded in London.
  • Hans Wilsdorf, a German, and Alfred Davis, a British person, two brothers-in-law started under the pseudonym “Wilsdorf and Davis” by putting movements in cases for jewelers.
  • They changed the name to Rolex in 1908.
  • They soon relocated to Switzerland in 1919 because of a result of wartime taxes on luxury imports.
  • Following the death of Wilsdorf’s wife, the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation was created in 1944 causing all of Rolex’s shares to be transferred to the foundation. Under Swiss law, this meant that Rolex was a private charity and does not need to disclose any information about their charities and that they don’t pay corporate income taxes.
  • Once Hans Wilsdorf died in 1960, all of his shares went into a trust in the Wilsdorf Foundation.


Watch facts

  • The Perpetual Rotor, or self-winding mechanism, was patented by Rolex in 1931. The technology involves a semi-circular plate that uses gravity to move. It was also the first to use a 360° winding rotor which helps push for the start of automatic watches.
  • Today, the Perpetual Rotor is called the Oyster Perpetual.
  • The Day-wheel on the Rolex Day-Date is available to buy in 26 languages including English, German, Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Spanish, Basque, Catalan, Ethiopian, Finnish, French, Greek, Hebrew, Dutch, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Moroccan, Norwegian, Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish and Turkish.
  • One of the things that set Rolex out from other brands is “The Rolex Way” of making watches which includes their foundry where they make their own hand-made gold watches. At the foundry, they make their own gold and because of this, they not only get to have complete control of their products but also the machining of their gold.
  • The crown logo, being one of Rolex’s most recognizable feature, was patented in 1925.
  • There are four different Rolex factories located in Switzerland in Plan-Les-Ouates, Les Acacias, Chêne-Bourg, and Bienne. Each one handles a different aspect of the manufacturing.
  • Rolex watches are Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, or COSC certified. COSC is an independent testing institute that tests Swiss-made movements for precision.
  • Most of the parts of a Rolex watch are made in-house and all of them are handmade. It now makes sense why it usually takes a year of waiting after ordering a brand new Rolex. This is just another aspect of how Rolex has complete control of how their watches are made.
  • All watches are given a range of tests before leaving the factory and being sold at a marketplace. Each Rolex watch is put in an air-pressure chamber to make sure there are no air leaks in the case. Rolex watches with features for divers go through a water-pressure test with 300 meters of depth pressure. They then put a drop of water on the crystal of the watch for a condensation test and try to see if the optical sensor detects condensation.
  • Any watch that doesn’t pass a test is scrapped.
  • The most expensive stainless steel in the world, 904L, is used on Rolex watches and is exclusive to their brand.
  • Not only is it more expensive but it is also resistant to corrosion, rust, and pitting, which mitigates issues many saltwater divers experience.
  • $17.75 million is the cost of the most expensive Rolex. The 1968 reference 6239 Daytona, more popularly known as the Hollywood Pedigree, is made with stainless steel and leather. It was auctioned off in 2017 in New York City.
  • With over $1,000,000 of Everose gold bars held at Rolex, they made sure to have the highest amount of security with employee fingerprint scanners, iris scanners, and even unmarked armored trucks for transportation.
  • Instead of using the Roman numeral IV, Rolex aesthetically prefers doing IIII as it adds more visual symmetry.


Historical Facts

  • With Doxa, Rolex co-invented the helium release valve, which is a valve to release helium gas that has built up during decompression.
  • When Royal Air Force Pilots were captured during WW2, Wilsdorf offered to replace any watches that were taken while they were captured. They weren’t required to pay until after the war.
  • Rolex watches have gone to the deepest points of the ocean as well as the highest points of the world.


Pop Culture Facts

  • The word Rolex actually means nothing, most likely. Many watchmakers have thought that the name comes from the French term Horlogerie exquise, translating to exquisite clockwork. Hans Wilsdorf has admitted that he picked the name Rolex because he wanted a short word that would look good on the face of a watch and was easy to pronounce. He definitely achieved that with the name Rolex as it has continued to be one of the most popular brands.
  • In 2008, Bernie Madoff was arrested and then sentenced to 150 years in prison for scamming $900,000 from the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. His collection of Rolex watches were confiscated and auctioned off with the proceeds going to help his victims.
  • Scam artist Albert Walker Johnson murdered his business partner, Ronald Joseph Platt, throwing his body into the English Channel. After two weeks, Johnson thought that he had gotten away with the murder, but the body was found with a still working Rolex that was able to be traced back to identifying the body and solving the murder!
  • Rolex made the Great Escape possible when Corp. Clive Nutting requested a replacement Rolex Oyster 3525 and was given with, without charge, from Wilsdorf personally, allowing Nutting and the rest of the prisoners to time their escape precisely.


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