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Rolex's Pioneering Watches

Pioneering Watches


In the early 1950s, Rolex developed professional watches that served as tools and whose functions went far beyond simply telling the time. These watches were intended for professional activities, such as deep-sea diving, aviation, mountain climbing and scientific exploration. The watches generated lasting enthusiasm and became known as the watches of achievers.



In 1953, Sir John Hunt’s expedition, in which Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, was equipped with Oyster Perpetuals.

The Explorer


Rolex on Everest's first ascents

Inspired by knowledge gained from this fascinating chapter of human adventure, the Oyster Perpetual Explorer, launched in 1953 to celebrate the victorious ascent of Everest, immediately acquired iconic status.

Iconic Rolex Oyster Explorer
First Rolex Submariner divers’ watch

The Submariner


Launched in 1953, the Submariner was the first divers’ watch waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). Its rotatable bezel allows divers to read their immersion time.

Rolex Submariner elegance

Perfect Partner
on Land or in the Sea

We invented the Submariner to work perfectly 660 feet under the sea. It seems to work pretty well at any level.

Rolex displaying time zones



As intercontinental travel developed in the 1950s, airliners began to fly swiftly across several successive time zones. For the first time it became important to know the time in various places in the world, simultaneously. It was the dawn of the jet age, and Rolex responded with a watch to match the spirit of the times.

The GMT-Master


The GMT-Master was developed to meet the specific needs of airline pilots. It became the official watch of several airlines, among them the famous Pan American World Airways, better known as Pan Am. Its most distinguishing visual feature was the two-tone bezel which marked daytime from nighttime hours.

Rolex GMT-Master official pilot's watch
Rolex Day-Date for influential people

The Day-Date


In 1956, the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date made its debut. Available only in 18 ct gold or platinum, it was the first wristwatch to display the date and day of the week spelt out in full in a window on the dial. With the President bracelet, originally created specially for it, the Day-Date continues to be the watch par excellence of influential people.

Rolex Day-Date for exceptional men and women



Rolex watches have long been associated with those who have, over time, guided the destiny of the world. No matter their vision, their domain of excellence, or their achievements, the one thing these exceptional men and women have in common is often their watch: the Day-Date.

Rolex Milgauss tested by CERN



The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the world's pre-eminent particle physics laboratory, is at the cutting edge of scientific research into the fundamental secrets of the universe. It hosts the world's highest-energy particle accelerator. In the 1950s, CERN was also one of the first scientific institutions to confirm that the Milgauss watch could indeed resist magnetic fields of up to 1,000 gauss.

The Oyster Perpetual Milgauss


Rolex Milgauss magnetic resistance
Rolex Lady-Datejust timeless elegance



The Lady-Datejust was the first ladies’ version of the Rolex date chronometer, carrying its heritage of timeless elegance and functionality in a smaller size perfectly suited to a lady’s wrist.

Deep Sea Special


In the 1950s, Rolex carried out rigorous testing of an experimental watch, called “Deep Sea Special”. Using the knowledge gained from the making of the first two models, the third Deep Sea Special was created to withstand the most extreme conditions - the Challenger Deep portion of the Mariana Trench.

The Deepest Dive


Rolex Watches History: 1953 - 1967
Rolex developed watches for professional activities from the early 1950's. Discover the history of Rolex watches on the Official Website.>
Rolex underwater exploration
Rolex at Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach


The Cosmograph Daytona


Launched in 1963 as a new-generation chronograph, the Cosmograph soon gained the name that became the mark of an icon: Daytona. Designed as the ultimate tool for endurance racing drivers, the Cosmograph Daytona was robust, waterproof and featured a tachymetric scale on the bezel for calculating average speed.

Rolex Daytona for racing drivers
Rolex and COMEX



A preferential relationship was established between Rolex and the Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises (COMEX), whose divers wore Rolex Sea-Dweller watches while working at great depths. The company, headed by Henri-Germain Delauze, played a pioneering role in deep-sea diving and remains a world-renowned specialist in hyperbaric engineering and underwater work.

The relationship between Rolex and COMEX is as strong as ever today, as demonstrated by the hyperbaric tank developed specially by the Marseille company to test the Rolex Deepsea watches.

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Rolex Sea-Dweller for deep-sea divers



1967 saw the launch of the Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller, waterproof to a depth of 610 metres. To meet the needs of professional deep-sea divers, the case was equipped with a helium escape valve so that, during long decompression phases in hyperbaric chambers, the helium from the gas mixtures used could be released without risking damage to the watch.

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