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The most oft-counterfeited timepieces in the world

Review of Rolex

Product range. The men's watches par excellence made of stainless steel, 18 ct gold, and often decorated with diamonds and other gemstones. The bracelets are made of either metals (with flat or semi-circle three-piece links) or leather. The dial is the only part of the watch that enjoys the play of colour.

Originality. To owning a Rolex watch is universally accepted as synonymous with undisputed success. Rolex is arguably unrivalled in the extent the watches are aligned affluence. That said, luxury as such has grown unpopular: it's not cool anymore to show off your fortunes. Hence Rolex watches (not the 18 ct gold ones, by any means) parted ways with the tastes of the billionaires of our times. As a consequence, Rolex is a statement item mostly for those who can't really afford them.

Chic. Rolex is iconic and any novelty (save for technological innovations) is deemed superfluous, with the core design unchanged for decades already.

Pricing. Rolex timepieces cost $40,000 on average.

Corporate history highlights. Hans Wilsdorf, a German Watchmaker, once and for all succeeded in convincing men that wrist watches were a not a sheer female whim, but a perfect replacement of the more cumbersome pocket watches. This happened at the dawn of the XX century, Wilsdorf and his bother-in-law Alfred Davies founded Rolex in 1905 in London and commenced manufacturing wrist watches. The novelty was accepted with a bit of incredulity, but the demand skyrocketed after the end of World War I. It was then of paramount importance for the company to prove that Rolex watches are unsurpassed in terms of their accuracy and robustness. ... To this end, in 1914, Rolex watches passed the 44-day test at Kew Observarory (in Richmond, London) and were awarded Class A precision certificat, something back then unimaginable for wrist watches. In fact it was Rolex who introduced most of the improvements and new features that are now integral parts of wrist watches as we know them.

Wilsdorf was also skillful in calculating the potential promotional impact of advertising campaigns and special offers. One of the most memorable of them was that of the so called 'Vindication Swim' by Mercedes Gleitze, the first English woman (and just the third women overall) to swim the English Channel. When faced with the hoax accusations afterwards, in 1927 she took the challenge to repeat her feat in the 'I'll do it again' fashion. It was then when Wilsdorf approached her and offered to provide her with Rolex Oyster, the first waterproof watches ever, in exchange for her public testimonial on the underwater performance of the watch. Eventually, the swim proved a victory in defeat: Mercedes Gleitze failed due to brutal weather conditions, after ten something hours she slipped in a coma-like state but still was lauded by the crowd. Despite the failure, the publicity the swim got was not lost on Rolex that started marketing Rolex Oyster as 'The Wonder Watch That Defies The Elements'.


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