Type Watch manufacturer
Industry Wristwatches
Founded 1908
Founder(s) Hans Wilsdorf
Alfred Davis
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Key people Bruno Meier (CEO)
Product(s) watches
Revenue Unknown
Employees Approximately 6,000
Divisions Unknown

Rolex SA is a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer.

The company is based in Geneva, Switzerland and employs about 6,000 people.

In Demember, 2008 it was announced that Bruno Meier had been appointed CEO of Rolex.1


Rolex was established in 1908 by Hans Wilsdorf and his brother in law, Alfred Davis, under the name Wildorf & Davis.2

To begin with, their main business was importing Hermann Aegler’s watch movements to England. They would place these movements in quality cases. The watches were then sold to jewellers who would put their own names on them. These early watches usually carry the hallmark “W&D” inside the caseback.3

The name “Rolex” was coined in 1908 and the company opened an office in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. The origins of the name “Rolex” are unknown but it is thought that Hans Wilsdorf wished for the company to have a name which was easy to pronounce and remember in every language.

Even though the pocket watch was prevalent at this time, Rolex focused on producing wristwatches.


In 1910, a Rolex wristwatch was became the first in the world to receive the Swiss Certificates of Precision.

In 1926, Rolex created the first airtight, dustproof and waterproof watch – the Oyster.

In 1927, a Rolex Oyster watch was worn by Mercedes Gleitze during her 15 hour swim across the English Channel. The watch worked perfectly after she had completed the swim. Willsdorf then launched a newspaper advertising campaign which made these achievements known.4

In 1931 Rolex released their first perpetual wristwatch, which incorporated a self winding mechanism. This mechanism was first invented by Abraham-Louis Perrelet and first appeared on the marked in 1928.5

In 1960, the Rolex Deep Sea Special was carried over 35,000 feet into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The watch was strapped to the bathyscaphe Trieste. Upon its return to land, the watch was still in perfect working order.

Since the company was founded in 1908, Rolex has arguably become the world’s most famous brand of wristwatch. The name Rolex is somewhat synonymous with luxury and today Rolex watches are often seen as status symbols of the wealthy.

Notable sales

On 3 May 2005, a rare gold triple calendar Rolex chronograph wristwatch was sold at a Sotheby’s sale in Hong Kong.

The watch was expected to sell for HK$700,000-900,000. It actually sold for HK$936,000.

On 12 November 2007 a rare 18K pink gold self winding Rolex wristwatch was sold for CHF361,000 at a Christie’s sale in Geneva, Switzerland, after a presale estimate of CHF200,000-300,000.

See also

Main article: Rolex Daytona
Main article: Watches

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