Rolex History

Inextricably linked to the visionary spirit of Hans Wilsdorf, its founder

The first
waterproof watch

1926

In 1926, the creation by Rolex of the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch marked a major step forward. Given the name “Oyster”, this watch featured a hermetically sealed case which provided optimal protection for the movement.

Cross-Channel Challenge

1927

It is one thing to claim a watch is waterproof. It is quite another to prove it. In 1927 a Rolex Oyster crossed the English Channel, worn by a young English swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze. The swim lasted over 10 hours and the watch remained in perfect working order at the end of it.

The Testimonee Concept

1927

To celebrate the crossing of the channel, Rolex published a full-page
ad on the front page of the Daily Mail proclaiming the success of the waterproof watch. This event marked the birth of the Testimonee concept.

Perpetual Movement

Perpetual Movement

1931

In 1931, Rolex invented and patented the world's first self-winding mechanism with a Perpetual rotor. This ingenious system, a true work
of art, is today at the heart of every modern automatic watch.

Flying over Everest

1933

The first expedition to fly over Everest was equipped with Rolex Oysters. The members of the crew were highly satisfied with the performance of the watches.

A Living Laboratory

1935

Rolex recognised the formidable opportunity to test, fine-tune and showcase the technical performance of the Oyster in different arenas. The worlds of sport, aviation, motor racing and expeditions constituted living laboratories for the watches' countless technical attributes.

Sir Malcolm Campbell

1935

In the 1930s, Rolex and one of the fastest drivers in the world,
Sir Malcolm Campbell, became united by the quest for speed.
On 4 September 1935, at the wheel of Bluebird – and wearing a Rolex watch – this “king of speed” set a land speed record of over 300 miles per hour (approximately 485 km/h) at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Sir Malcolm broke the world speed record nine times between 1924
and 1935, including five times at Daytona Beach in Florida.

A Letter to Rolex

1935

“I have now been using my Rolex Watch for a while, and it is keeping perfect time under somewhat strenuous conditions”, Sir Malcolm Campbell.

The First Datejust

1945

The year 1945 saw the birth of the Datejust, the first self-winding wrist chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial. A watch of great distinction, the Datejust was equipped with a Jubilee bracelet created specially for it and a fluted bezel, making it immediately recognisable as a Rolex. It is the pillar of the Oyster collection. Initially for men, it became available in various models for women in the course of the following decade.

Mystery Man

1947

In 1947, commemorating the brand's 100,000th officially certified chronometer, Hans Wilsdorf presented that selfsame Datejust to an illustrious gentleman he described as one of the greatest figures of our time. To this day, his identity has never been revealed.