Like Swiss Watch? Rolex’s difficult beginnings

Rolex brand history
photo: Pixabay

Rolex is one of the most popular luxury watch brands in the world. A timepiece from Switzerland (really?) is now more of a prestigious decoration than a device that lets us know how much we are in a hurry. At the beginning of its history, however, the brand was just one of many… and that’s it not very successful. This was at a time when the value of a watch was determined primarily by the precision of time measurement. Back then, not everything in Rolex worked “like a Swiss watch.”

The company was founded in 1905 with initiative Hans Wilsdorf, who created a company with his brother-in-law called Wilsdorf & Davis – then not yet Rolex. Wilsdorf entered the market with the ambitious goal of creating watches that would not only keep time perfectly, but also be a great decoration – they had to have an original and attractive design. Today we know that he succeeded, and his life’s work – the world-famous company – has outlived him and is still doing great. The effects are easily visible, unlike the sweat on Wilsdorf’s temple.

Difficult beginnings of the Rolex brand

The company was founded in 1905, but only in 1910 Wilsdorf reaped the first fruits of his labor. For the first five years, his watches were poor quality, and what is more They measured time poorly. Only after half a decade, the first replica of Wilsdorf’s watch received a certificate from the observatory in Trieste, which audited the precision of timepieces. This allowed us to start building a great brand.

Interestingly, the company – contrary to legends – is not from Switzerland, and Wilsdorf was not Swiss. The company’s original headquarters was in Great Britain, and only in 1912 it was moved to Switzerland. Four years earlier, the “Rolex” trademark was reserved and from that moment on, the company branded its products with it.

As in the case of many businesses, in the case of Rolex, strong will turned out to be crucial. After five years of drought, the brand’s over 100-year winning streak began. Since obtaining certification, Rolexes have become increasingly popular. 10 years later, Wilsdorf did not make the mistake that sometimes even the most powerful companies cannot avoid – he started to go with the flow. technological development. Rolex – although today it is based on sentiment towards traditional timepieces – then focused on innovations. This was, for example, eliminating the need to wind the watch thanks to the use of an automatic mechanism.

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How did a Rolex watch cross the English Channel? | photo: Pixabay

Rolex – the first waterproof watch in history

The biggest breakthrough in the history of the Rolex brand occurred more than 20 years after its creation. IN 1927 Hans Wilsdorf’s company made history with the first invention waterproof watch. It was made especially for Mercedes Gleitze – a famous swimmer. Gleitze was the first person to swim The Strait of Gibraltar and the first British woman to swim under her own power English Channel. Rolex crossed the English Channel with her! Gleitze succeeded, but Rolex also succeeded – he survived the entire crossing.

The rest of the story wrote itself over the next decades and continues. Rolex was and is considered a brand prestigious, offering unique design and quality of workmanship. However, let us remember that if it weren’t for self-denial Wilsdorf in the first five years of the brand’s existence, there would be no more than a hundred.