Rolex, the world's most famous watchmaker
Rolex watches are undoubtedly the most famous timepieces in the world. As well known by the general public as prized by collectors, the creations of the famous Swiss brand are, still today, considered as must-have models. A popularity that sometimes makes some people say that Rolex owes its fame only to its "bling-bling" image. However, this is not the case, as the Geneva-based company has left its mark on the world of fine watchmaking through its technical inventions and pioneering creations: before becoming one of the leading watchmakers on the market, Rolex was indeed a forerunner on many points.
The creation of the first Rolex watches
The Rolex adventure began in 1905. That year, Hans Wilsdorf, a young German employee working in a London watchmaking House, launched a company specializing in the distribution of watches with his brother-in-law Alfred Davis at the age of only 24. This first company, named Wilsdorf & Davis, was soon dedicated to luxury watches.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the fashion is for pocket watches. The few existing wristwatches were sorely lacking in precision. In spite of this, Hans Wilsdorf believes that these timepieces could, by becoming more reliable, become a great success and become essential daily accessories. He then had the idea of equipping his wristwatches with small and very precise movements, manufactured in Bienne by a Swiss manufacturer.
After patenting their innovative stretch bracelet, Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis registered the name Rolex in 1908. It was probably Wilsdorf who came up with the name of the brand: he wanted his creations to have a short name that could be pronounced in any language and could be affixed to the watch face.
But the two founders of Rolex still had to prove the chronometric precision of their creations. In 1910, they decided to have their watches certified by the COSC (Contrôle officiel suisse des chronomètres). The young watchmaking company was the first to obtain certification for a wristwatch. Four years later, the company caused another sensation: the Royal Observatory of Kew (England) awarded one of its watches a Class "A" certificate of accuracy - a title that had previously been reserved only for naval chronometers. The Rolex production will then begin to meet a huge success in the four corners of the globe.
Successful watches carried by their innovations and luxurious design
In 1919, the House of Rolex, which had been successful since World War I, moved to Geneva, the world capital of fine watchmaking: it founded the company Montres Rolex S.A. The year 1925 was also a symbolic date for Rolex watches: it marked the appearance of the company's new emblem, the five-pronged crown (whose origin is still unknown). Quickly nicknamed the brand with the crown, Rolex will use this graphic element from 1939 on all its models.
The following year, Rolex experienced a decisive turning point in its history that would propel it to the top of the watch industry: the brand created the first waterproof and dustproof watch. This watch was named "Oyster". Previously, the movement of wristwatches was often damaged by moisture and dust seeping into the dial. To correct the problem, Hans Wilsdorf invented a revolutionary crown capable of fully protecting the watch and its mechanism.
The founder of Rolex once again used his innovative spirit to prove the water resistance of his Oyster watch. He launched an unprecedented marketing campaign, asking stores distributing Rolex to equip themselves with aquariums...and to immerse the watches in them. Passers-by, while walking in front of the window, can then note with great astonishment that the watch continues to function perfectly in water. In 1927, the young British swimmer Mercedes Gleitze participated in the international success of this pioneering model: she swam across the English Channel with an Oyster watch on her wrist. Rolex took out a full-page advertisement in the Daily Mail to report the swimmer's feat and demonstrate the technical superiority of its production.
From then on, Rolex's prestige, innovation and quest for excellence will never be questioned. But the company does not intend to stop there. After creating a watch with a double dial, the Rolex Prince, the Swiss company invented in 1931 what it called the Rotor. This was an innovative component that would allow Rolex to market the very first self-winding mechanism - a system that is still the basis of watchmaking mechanisms today. The Rolex Perpetual watch is the first model to be equipped with this movement: the brand with the crown once again revolutionizes the world of watchmaking.
Rolex, a journey punctuated by success and prestige
During the decades that followed, the watchmaking House would continue its quest for innovation. In 1945, Rolex released the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust watch, the first watch model capable of giving the date in an aperture on the dial. About eight years later, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner watch, waterproof to a depth of 100 meters, appeared. After the release of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master allowing to have two time zones simultaneously, the Rolex Perpetual Day-Date innovates again by displaying the day of the week in letters. In more than 110 years of history, the Swiss manufacture has reinvented all the codes of its industry.
The great Rolex collections
The Rolex collections are grouped into two main ranges:
- The Oyster Perpetual range, counting in its ranks iconic models such as the Datejust
- The Professional range, offering professional watches (aviation, scuba diving, mountaineering, scientific exploration, driving) developed since the 1950s with exceptional technical performance, such as the Milgauss, the Submariner, the GMT-Master II or the Daytona.
The Cellini range offers prestigious models with a much more classic design such as the Cellissima, the Prince or the Cestello.
The iconic watch models of the House of Rolex
Rolex Submariner watches
This now legendary model was born in 1953. The first wristwatch to be waterproof to 100 meters, the Rolex Submariner revolutionized the world of scuba diving by offering features dreamed of by divers: perfectly legible luminescent elements, black dial, crown ensuring perfect waterproofing... Since the launch of the first model in the collection (reference 6204), the Submariner watches have remained faithful to their characteristic design while integrating new performances: scratchproof Cerachrom graduated rotating bezel, water resistance to a depth of 300 meters for certain models... This collection is also offered with two different COSC-certified movements: the caliber 3130 and the caliber 3135 Available in more than 30 different versions, the Submariner still embodies the luxury diving watch par excellence. A watch that was immortalized by Sean Connery in James Bond.
Rolex Daytona Watches
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watch is one of the most iconic models of the Geneva-based manufacture. Named after a car race held on the Daytona Beach circuit, it was born in 1963. Worn by American actor Paul Newman and Formula 1 driver Jackie Stewart, this collection quickly became iconic. This model is characterized by its three windows, its 40 mm case, its unidirectional graduated bezel and its unusual features: high-precision chronograph, bezel with tachymetric scale for precise measurement of average speed (up to 400 km/h). Its black and white dial also houses a hand that measures time to the nearest 1/8th of a second. Add to that water resistance to a depth of 100 meters and you have one of the sportiest watches of its generation.
Rolex Explorer Watches
In 1953, mountaineer Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest for the first time in history. A timepiece from the Swiss Manufacture took part in the adventure. To pay tribute to this achievement, the Rolex Explorer watches were created the same year and quickly became a reference. While the old Rolex Explorer models have a 36 mm diameter case, the most recent models have a 39 mm Oyster case. Sober and efficient, these references are distinguished by their black dial topped by large luminescent Arabic numerals (3, 6 and 9) offering perfect legibility. Thanks to a case made of 904L steel, a material notably used in the aerospace industry, this model is also ultra-robust. A true precision tool, the modern Explorer watches are powered by a self-winding manufacture movement. Water-resistant to 100 meters, this watch features a Twinlock crown with double water-resistance and a smooth, sober bezel. For a more imposing model, it is possible to go for its little sister: the Rolex Explorer II watch and its 42 mm diameter case.
Rolex GMT-Master watches
The Rolex GMT-Master watches are born at the request of the Pan Am airline, which wants to offer its airline pilots models capable of helping them to ensure their transcontinental flights. Its particularity? It has an additional hand that goes around the dial in 24 hours and a bezel graduated over 24 hours, allowing to read two time zones simultaneously. At that time, the first GMT-Master of Rolex are waterproof up to 50 meters and do not yet have a crown protector. A true aviator's watch, this model finally disappeared in the 1990s to make room for its little sister: the Rolex GMT-Master II. Launched in the 1980's, this model has the famous extra hand and the 24 hours graduated bezel. On the other hand, it marks its difference with several novelties: case of 40 mm out of steel 904L, bezel out of ceramics Cerachrom anti-scratch, resistant sapphire glass, famous magnifying glass Cyclope allowing to read the date more easily.
Rolex Datejust Watches
The first chronometer to offer a date display, this model has maintained its unalterable elegance over the years. Crossing the eras, it still allows you to read the date, but today thanks to a Cyclops magnifying glass. Easily recognizable, this 41 mm timepiece is still a guarantee of style today.
Rolex Day-Date Watches
Considered the watch of presidents, the Rolex Day-Date is the first model to display the day of the week in full. Available in gold and platinum with a 36 or 40 mm diameter case, it embodies the ultimate luxury watch with its precious materials, sleek dial and famous President's bracelet.
Sale of certified authentic pre-owned Rolex watches
Cresus offers year-round used Rolex watches at attractive prices. All our models undergo a complete inspection as well as polishing and are guaranteed parts and labor. Delivery is free in France.
The selection of watches presented to you has been appraised by our teams to guarantee you a purchase with complete peace of mind. From the Submariner to the Explorer, including the GMT-Master and the Daytona, Rolex watches have always pushed the limits of precision and reliability, while reinventing the codes of watchmaking aesthetics. Rolex is now recognized as one of the most famous brands of fine watchmaking: Omega, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Dior, Chanel, Cartier, etc. You will find all year round used Rolex watches on Cresus as well as all the most emblematic models of luxury watchmaking. You don't want to buy your Rolex watch on the Internet? Come and meet us in our stores in Paris, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence, Lille and Bordeaux.