The History of Rolex Watches

Below are select important dates from the history of Rolex. You might also be interested in our hints on how to spot a fake Rolex.

1900-1920

  • 1905 - Hans Wilsdorf & Alfred Davies form Wilsdorf & Davis in order to create wrist watches.
  • 1908 - Wildorf needed a name for his soon to be created masterpiece and chose Rolex, a word whose origins are hotly disputed.
  • 1910 - Rolex obtains the first official chronometer certification ever awarded to a wristwatch.
  • 1914 - London's Kew Observatory awards the Rolex wristwatch a "Chronometer" rating.
  • 1920 - Montres Rolex S.A. (later to be shortened to Rolex S.A.) is established in Bienne.

1920-1940

  • 1926 - Rolex develops and patents the first airtight, dustproof and waterproof watch - named the Oyster.
  • 1927 - The Rolex Oyster crosses 26 miles of the English Channel - working perfectly after the swim by Mercedes Gleitze.
  • 1931 - Re-birth of the Perpetual (automatic) watch, a self-winding mechanism first invented by Abraham-Louis Perrelet.

1940-1960

  • 1945 - The Rolex Oyster Datejust goes on sale. Automatically sets the correct date for each month (perpetual month).
  • 1953 - The Rolex Submariner goes on sale.
  • 1954 - The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady date goes on sale.
  • 1955 - The Rolex Oyster GMT Master is released, reads time in any two time zones.
  • 1956 - The Rolex Oyster Day-Date goes on sale.
  • 1960 - A bathyscaphe (a free-diving deep-sea vessel) carries a Rolex watch 35,000 feet into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

1960-1980

  • 1967 - The Rolex Oyster Sea-Dweller is released - waterproof to a depth of 611 m / 2000 ft
  • 1967- the Submariner (ref: 1680) is released with a date version called the Rolex Submariner Date. It is now commonly referred to as the "Red writing."
  • 1971 - The Rolex Oyster Explorer II is released. It becomes known as the "Orange Hand" or "Steve McQueen."
  • 1978 - The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Sea-Dweller is tested waterproof to a depth of 1222 m / 4000 ft.

1980-2000

  • 1988 - The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is fitted with a perpetual rotor. It becomes known as the "Zenith" and several collectible versions inadvertently emerge such as the A-series with solid end link.
  • 1992 - The Professional range of Rolex watch gains another superb wristwatch - the Rolex Yacht-Master.
  • 2000 - Rolex begin to produce the Rolex Daytona with a Rolex movement. The model becomes known as the 116520.

2000-today

  • 2004 - The Rolex Submariner celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Rolex celebrates with a special commemorative model - the Green Bezel 16610 LV with "maxi-dial."
  • 2007 - The Rolex Milgauss is re-launched with patented anti-magnetic mechanism to much aplomb with 3 different models. The Green crystal 116400GV instantly becomes a collectors Classic.
  • 2008 - The Rolex Deepsea is introduced as a world first. It enjoys a massive depth rating and it is a technical masterpiece. The jury however, remains out on this watch.

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