Rolex — the watch of the rich and famous
When you think of Rolex you think of luxury, distinction, quality and yes money. There are some brands the rich and famous want to be seen with including Mercedes Benz, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Versace, Hermes, Starbucks, Gucci (at least in other countries), and Rolex. For most of the world’s wealthiest people — either the “old penny” or the nouveau riche — Rolex is the cream of the crop of all watches. This was true in 1910 when the watch became the first wristwatch to earn the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision and it is still true even in this day and age.
If you ask the not-so-wealthy people about luxury watches, most likely they will say if they become rich one day, they will purchase a “Rolex.” The name alone conjures thoughts of status, success, and achievement.
When a person wears a Rolex watch, he or she is considered to be rich — and beyond reach. One of the top high-end watch brands in the world, Rolex sells units whose average price tag ranges from tens of thousands to even over a million dollars. A Rolex could even be more expensive than one of the most expensive cars!
Few brands are able to promote and market their product as easily and effectively as Rolex does. Rolex is also the largest single luxury watch brand in the world.
Rolex was established by founders Alfred Davis and Hans Wilsdorf in 1905. Originally based in London, the company transferred to Geneva, Switzerland in 1919. It has been operating there since that time.
Rolex as a part of world history
From 1919 to the present, Rolex watches have gone to many places, and have also been worn by several prestigious figures in history. Part of Rolex’s reliability and sturdiness is that it has been used in the most extreme conditions — whether it is worn in the depths of the sea or upon one of the highest mountains, in the thinnest air.
Noted oceanographers Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh strapped a Rolex Sea Dweller Deep Sea Special to the bathyscaphe when both men explored the Mariana Trench in 1960. The team traveled to 10,916 meters (35,813 feet) below sea level. Canadian filmmaker James Cameron followed Piccard and Walsh’s example when he took a similar dive in 2012. He used a submarine and had the robotic arm “wear” a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller Deep Sea Challenge.
Legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay wore a Rolex in 1953 when he and another famed mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hillary (as well as other members of their team), made their ascent to the top of Mount Everest, reaching an altitude of 8,848 meters (29,029 feet). This feat is proof that Rolex is not just a beautiful and luxurious accessory — if it can withstand the extreme depths and the heights of the earth, you know it can handle just about anything.
Rolex in the world of sports, arts and show business
Rolex is also the choice brand of many of the prestigious and elite sports tournaments such as Wimbledon, the Australian Open, The Masters Tournament, the US Open, and the US Women’s Open, among others. Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Ava Ivanovic, and Phil Mickelson are among the top pro athletes who are seen wearing or endorsing Rolex. Because these star athletes usually have the funds to buy expensive things, they are able to stay up on the cutting edge of fashion and it seems normal for them to sport the latest trends.
Aside from its connection to sports, Rolex also contributes to the arts to foster creativity and innovation. It sponsors such places as the Royal Opera House and the Teatro Alla Scala, where only the best and world-class figures are allowed to perform. Naturally, Rolex is also prevalent in the fashion and entertainment world. Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Cameron Diaz, Ben Affleck, Adam Levine, and Orlando Bloom are only a few of the Hollywood A-listers who are seen wearing a Rolex whether they are official endorsers of the brand or not.
Of course, who could ever forget Rolex’s association with the world’s famous spy, James Bond? In the first James Bond film Dr. No, actor Sean Connery was wearing a Rolex. The brand has appeared in a total of eleven Bond flicks including From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, Casino Royale, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Live and Let Die, Man with the Golden Gun, and License to Kill.
What are the most expensive Rolex watches?
As for the most expensive vintage units in Rolex history, they include the James Bond 1973 Rolex ($450,000), Rolex GMT 116769TBR ($485,350), Eric Clapton’s 1971 Daytona ($505,000), and the 1942 Rolex Chronograph ($1.17 million).
US President and World War II general Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Rolex Datejust Reference 6305 has been on the news recently. The 18-karat yellow gold watch was given to Eisenhower by Rolex in 1951 to celebrate the company’s production of its 150,000th watch (after the 100,000th was given to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill). The auctioneer’s expectations were quite high — that the watch would certainly fetch a price tag of over a million dollars.
However, the watch failed to sell at an auction in Boston, Massachusetts. The bidding began at $100,000 and reached $475,000 before the bidding stalled out. This was short of the reserve price (which was not disclosed) and the watch was later hammered as being unsold. Many were understandably surprised. But some experts discovered that the watch had some technical and design issues which may be part of the reason why it failed to fetch the expected price.
The auction house in Boston, RR Auction, will likely reach out to the bidders and private watch collectors to find a new owner for the Eisenhower watch.
However, the non-sale of the Eisenhower watch is not indicative of the high-end vintage watches market in general. The watch of the former US president and World War II general still holds the reputation of being probably the most famous Rolex watch of all time. Its significance still holds a great impact on both history and watch buffs alike.
Rolex watches are renowned for their luxury, beauty, reliability, and exclusivity. It is also known for its strong connection to history and famous people — not to mention the usually high price tag. With the history of this exceptional watch, it is doubtful that a Rolex watch will ever relinquish its position as a status symbol.