Rolex and women throughout the 20th century
Since its inception, Rolex has always shown great ambition. In the early part of the 20th century, it believed wristwatches should benefit from the most advanced technology and be as reliable and accurate as the pocket watch, then the standard personal timepiece.
Being able to produce the small, precise movements needed for wristwatches was a challenge that would serve Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf’s vision. Wristwatches then were perceived as fragile items of jewellery for women, but he was determined to offer women, as much as men, a choice of modern, dependable wristwatches.
In 1914, a Rolex model received the first “Class A” certificate accorded to a wristwatch, from the Kew Observatory in England – the world’s highest authority at the time for measuring watch precision. This distinction was, until then, reserved for marine chronometers.
In the wake of this breakthrough, in 1957 the brand unveiled a chronometer specially designed for women, a watch with certified accuracy featuring a date display. The Lady-Datejust was born, another landmark in watchmaking, a tribute to Hans Wilsdorf’s enduring mission:
“Ladies want the best of both worlds: a tiny watch and an accurate movement. Yet, the smaller the watch, the more difficult it is to make it accurate.”