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Rolex: History, Models and Prices. New & Vintage.

Rolex

Discover the world of Rolex watches online.

The five-pointed crown displayed on a watch dial is a world-renowned symbol. Around the globe, the Rolex logo marks first-class timepieces and is an unquestionable indicator of a reliable sense of style. Rolex was founded in 1905 and stands for uncompromising quality. The company can proudly look back on a history of influential milestones in the world of watches.

All Rolex watches
  • Rolex is the most famous watch brand worldwide
  • The first water and dust-proof wristwatch, the “Oyster”, was invented by Rolex in 1926
  • Sir Edmund Hillary was wearing a Rolex during the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953

A true visionary in the watch industry

Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf

No other brand symbolises a successful lifestyle quite like Rolex. The company owes much of its success to its founder, Hans Wilsdorf. Born in Kulmbach, the entrepreneur was a marketing genius and a brilliant businessman. When he founded his watch business in London in 1905, he already seemed aware of the perfect formula for success – to offer the absolute finest in quality. From the very beginning, Wilsdorf followed this motto and sold the highest quality Swiss-made timepieces. In order to raise awareness and recognition of his watches, he assigned them with a name that was easy to pronounce worldwide. Thus, from 1908 onward, “Rolex” was born. The meaning of this name has been subject to many myths. Watch experts have argued that the name Rolex is a play on “Horlogerie Exquisite” (French for exquisite watchmaking). It has also been stated that the brand name is an acronym for “Rolling Export”. Even if the truth remains hidden, the Rolex brand continues to represent exquisite watchmaking to this very day.

A watertight case and a new automatic movement

The grand innovations of Rolex

Hans Wilsdorf may not have invented the wristwatch, but many milestones in the history of a wristwatch can indeed be attributed to Rolex. In 1916, the company that is now based in Geneva, presented the first worldwide water and dust-tight watch, with the telling name of “Oyster”. Just like an oyster, the case of this watch is tightly sealed and, therefore, offers exceptional protection for the mechanical movement.

At a request made by Hans Wilsdorf, the Oyster was worn by swimmer Mercedes Gleitze during her historic crossing of the English Channel in 1927. That day, a true legend was born. The day after this record-breaking achievement, Rolex placed a large advert on the first page of the Daily Mail, celebrating the success of the Oyster. From that day forward, demand for the robust watch quickly increased, and Hans Wilsdorf did not rest on his laurels. With his dream of offering his customers the highest levels of comfort, he gave John Harwood the task of further developing the automatic watch. The result was a success: in 1931, Rolex introduced the automatic movement with a unidirectional rotor winding mechanism. This revolutionized the entire market as automatic watches could not be mass-produced during that time. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual represents a milestone in the history of watchmaking and is a testament to the inventive genius that defines Rolex to this day.

Rolex Oyster

Record holder on land, in the water, and in the sky

Due to the reliability and precision of the timepieces’, many prominent athletes and explorers have opted to wear a Rolex – whether in the sky, on the ground or in the water. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay scaled Mount Everest for the first time in human history, and together with them, a Rolex watch arrived at the peak. In the wake of the triumph, the Rolex Explorer was created as a stylish tribute to the groundbreaking expedition.

The most famous Rolex watch holds a record as well: The Submariner, introduced in 1953, was one of the first dive watches to be manufactured and was watertight to 100 metres. Today’s Submariner far surpasses the original, withstanding depths of up to 300 metres. The classic Rolex GMT-Master is not just popular among pilots, but was worn by several famous astronauts as well. Members of the Apollo missions to the moon, like Jack Swigert, Edgar Mitchell, and Ron Evans, wore a Rolex GMT-Master during the spaceflight as well as during times of leisure.

In the 21st century, Rolex continues to accompany world records with chronometric peak performances. In 2012, the company supported the director and explorer, James Cameron, when he descended to the deepest point on Earth, alone in the submarine Deepsea Challenger. A custom model from the Rolex Deepsea line was attached to the robot-controlled arm of the submarine and impressively survived the entire dive undamaged. The Explorer, the GMT-Master, and the Deepsea faithfully measured time during world-distinguished events and deservedly belong to the most famous watches in history.

Famous Rolex owners

Che Guevara, Winston Churchill, the Dalai Lama

A Rolex is not just for telling time, it is also a symbol of status and success. The brand has an enviable fan following and can count a number of famous personages among its devotees. In order to actually determine which celebrity owns a Rolex, it might perhaps be easier to count the ones that, in fact, don’t own one.

Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels, equipped his agent 007 with a Rolex early on. Winston Churchill, Che Guevara, Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen, James Cameron, and Eric Clapton, all represent just a small selection of renowned Rolex owners. It may be hard to imagine at first, but even the Dalai Lama is often seen with his Rolex Day-Date. And of course famous women are among the company’s customers as well: Actresses Sharon Stone and Cameron Diaz, for example, like to wear sportive Rolex men’s watches, which look especially spectacular on feminine wrists.

To underline its close relationship with the world of sports, the brand utilizes successful athletes to promote the brand. Roger Federer and Tiger Woods have been acting Rolex ambassadors for several years. Another indispensable part of the history of Rolex is, without a doubt, the actor and race car driver, Paul Newman. He was a passionate wearer of Rolex watches and thousands of pictures show the style icon with a Rolex Daytona on his wrist. 

According to legend, the wife of Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, gifted the Rolex race watch to him just as he was starting his career in motorsports. The Daytona was not having any notable commercial success at that time and its price was relatively low. The model worn by Paul Newman, with its extraordinary style and exotic dial, was long thought to be a shelf warmer. Since demand was so low, the production of the Rolex Daytona “Exotic Dial” came to a halt after a relatively short period of time. In the 80s, however, the special edition was rediscovered by watch collectors. The price has been continuously on the rise since then. Currently, the Paul Newman Daytona is one of the most expensive vintage watches by Rolex. The model regularly fetches record prices in auctions and belongs to the most coveted watch models of all time.

Reliability, precision, and value

The promise of a Rolex watch

Rolex owes its outstanding reputation not only to its famous clientele, but also to the flawless craftsmanship of the Rolex watches themselves. The introduction of a watertight watch in 1926, and the introduction of the self-winding movement in 1931 formed the basis for the legendary Oyster Collection. These groundbreaking innovations reflect the core philosophy of the company: A Rolex watch can never fail.

Founder Hans Wilsdorf placed special emphasis on the precision and reliability of Rolex watches. As a result, the timepieces were officially certified as chronometers by independent control authorities from as early as 1914. The official certification of the watches and the aim for the highest accuracy standards belong to the basic principles of the brand. This is reflected in the inscription, “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified”, on the dial of every Rolex watch. Instead of developing exotic complications, the manufacturer instead focuses on producing precise and highly reliable watches with distinctive designs that create instant recognition when it comes to a Rolex timepiece. This comprises the brand’s key to success and is also the reason why both new and vintage Rolex models are highly sought after by collectors.

Your shopping experience will be as reliable as a Rolex at CHRONEXT

Not just at Rolex do reliability and precision enjoy the highest priority, but here at CHRONEXT as well. We value personal service and adhere to the highest security standards. Your CHRONEXT contact will happily advise you in every matter – be it the purchase of your new Rolex Sea-Dweller or the acquisition of a used Rolex Submariner.

Every watch that is bought through CHRONEXT is thoroughly checked for authenticity and quality, so we can then guarantee both conditions with our in-house certificate.

The selection of Rolex watches in our online shop covers the legendary series, including the Rolex Submariner, Rolex GMT-Master II, or Rolex Daytona, as well as the younger lineups such as the Rolex Yacht-Master II or the Rolex Sky-Dweller. Even the revised Cellini Collection, newly presented in 2014, can be ordered via our marketplace. In addition, our professional WatchHunter team can support you in the search for specific vintage Rolex models. Known for their stable price development, Rolex watches represent an attractive option for long-term investments.

At CHRONEXT, we always strive to offer the best prices at the best conditions for all Rolex models – no matter whether new or used.

Exceptional Service

Providing excellent customer service is one of our top priorities. We deliver your watch fast and with utmost attention to detail. Should you be looking for a specific model which is not in stock, we are happy to source it for you - free of any extra charges. If you would like to sell a watch, our experts will advise you on market developments and the ideal selling price for your timepiece.

Should you have any questions regarding delivery, price or history of a specific model, your personal advisor will be happy to help at any time.
+44 (0)203 588 00 44 (Mo.-Fr. 8am - 8:30pm, Sa. 9am - 5:30pm)

Guaranteed Authenticity

We always guarantee a safe transaction. When you buy or sell a watch on CHRONEXT, your contract of sale is made directly with us. We take legal responsibility for every transaction and provide the highest data security standards, secure payment methods and fully insured shipment. In order to ensure the authenticity and quality of all watches sold through us, every timepiece is thoroughly checked by our watchmakers before it is ever shipped to our customers.

This is guaranteed through our Certificate which you will receive with the purchase of any watch from CHRONEXT - new or pre-owned.

Fair Prices

Only the best is good enough for our customers. This goes for prices just as well as for service and security. Luxury watches are hardly ever cheap but there are still significant differences in price levels depending on where you shop. Thanks to our vast global network of suppliers and our low fixed costs, we are able to provide competitive prices at all times.

We scan the market daily for the best offers and always keep our prices up to date. Most important however is that our competitive prices will never lead us to compromise security and quality.