The biggest producer of luxury watches in the world, Rolex is a brand that is associated with style and status across the globe. The presence of the Rolex brand within Western culture is felt so keenly that the very idea of a Rolex watch is a charged one to most people.
The company started life in London 1905 under the banner of Wilsdorf & Davis, producing watches for the jewellers of the day, using imported Swiss movements. Becoming Rolex in 1908, the company established a base in La Chaux de Fonds in Switzerland.
Rolex really began to establish a reputation for excellence during the early years. In Switzerland, the School of Horology recognised the company’s watch movement with a chronometer rating, and they were awarded a Class A certificate for precision at the Kew Observatory in 1914.
Rolex went on to produce stylish, high fashion watches manufactured to an impressive standard of quality. A focus was often observed on the reliability of watches in differing circumstances, a commitment that later saw the development of the first waterproof watches, self-winding and quartz movements.
At this time the company also began to show signs of what would go on to become an extremely forward thinking approach to marketing the products. The waterproof watches were displayed floating in aquariums in an effective display of their function. Shortly after this, in the 1920s and 30s, Rolex began creating the sense of its watches as a status symbol, through the Prince model, which was marketed as something that people who had enjoyed some measure of success in life may wear.
In addition to the vast range of influential, famous Rolex wearers, a list that seems unending, Rolex has cemented its name within the cultural awareness in other ways. The British Royal Air Force pilots of the Second World War famously replaced their standard military issue watches with Rolexes, and in a fantastic stroke of marketing genius, when the watches were confiscated from those who had become POWs, the company offered to replace the watches without expecting payment before the end of the war.
In another indication of the brand’s significance within modern culture, Rolex watches are among the most popular for counterfeiting, with the ‘fake Rolex’ a widely recognised cliché within Western culture today.
The Rolex commitment to quality has combined with an innovative approach to branding to make it one of the most famous and successful watch brands in history.
December 15, 2009 at 12:24 pm | | No comment