In 1926, a major step was taken with creation of the world`s first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch. This watch – named the “Oyster” – featured a hermetically sealed case which provided optimal protection for the movement. The following year the Oyster crossed the English Channel unscathed worn by a young English swimmer, Mercedes Gleitze. The swim lasted over 10 hours and the watch remained in perfect working order at the end of it.
The history of Rolex is inextricably linked to the visionary spirit of Hans Wilsdorf, its founder. The young man entered the world of Swiss watchmaking in the early 20th century, at a time when the pocket watch was the order of the day. He began to dream of a watch worn on the wrist. Wristwatches were not very precise at the time, but Hans Wilsdorf foresaw that they could become both elegant and reliable. To convince the public of the reliability of his resolutely innovative timepieces, he equipped them with small, very precise movements manufactured by a Swiss watchmaking company in Bienne.
The Oyster soon boasted yet another outstanding feature. In 1931, Rolex invented and patented the world's first self-winding mechanism with a Perpetual rotor. This ingenious system is at the origin of every modern automatic watch.
The relentless quest for chronometric precision rapidly led to success. In 1910, a Rolex watch was the first wristwatch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, granted by the Official Watch Rating Centre in BienneFour years later, in 1914, Kew Observatory in Great Britain awarded a Rolex wristwatch a class “A” precision certificate, a distinction which until that point in time had been reserved exclusively for marine chronometers. From that date forward, the Rolex wristwatch was synonymous with precision..
A watch is only as precise as its oscillator is regular. Conventional oscillator hairsprings are made of ferromagnetic alloys, leaving them vulnerable to magnetic fields and shocks. After five years of research, Rolex created the blue Parachrom hairspring. Crafted from a paramagnetic alloy, it is unaffected by magnetic fields and up to 10 times more resistant to shocks. Historically, the unique blue colour of the hairspring has been a sign of prestige reserved for only the most accurate timepieces. Today, it guarantees the accuracy of your Rolex.
The bezel of a watch can deteriorate when exposed to sunlight or scratches. This motivated Rolex to create a special bezel with a Cerachrom disc. Fashioned from extremely hard ceramic material, it has excellent corrosion-resistant properties, its colour remains unaffected by ultraviolet rays and it is virtually scratch-proof.
Rolex uses 904L steel for its steel watch cases. 904L is usually reserved for the chemical industry, where maximum resistance against corrosion is essential. 904L marries perfectly with the other precious metals used by Rolex. A super alloy, 904L is extremely resistant and highly polishable.
The leading name in luxury wristwatches, Rolex has been the pre-eminent symbol of performance and prestige for over a century. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with 28 affiliates worldwide and relying on 4,000 watchmakers in over 100 countries, Rolex continues to expand its long history of achievement and innovation.
Watchmaking has evolved from being the domain of a single craftsman to the result of the collaboration of skilled specialists. Every Rolex is a symphony of precision: watchmakers, designers, gem-setters and chemists all contribute their know-how and artistry.