There's a minute in Gary Shteyngart's recent book, Lake Success, when the primary character, Barry Cohen-- a faltering hedge fund manager who is obsessed with watches-- shows a young lady whom he has just slept with a selection of his watch collection. She gets his F.P. Journe and says, "I love this one ... Are you saving up for a Rolex?" In another scene, Cohen tries to convince a previous coworker to use a Patek Philippe Continuous Calendar instead of a Rolex Sky-Dweller out to a club, with the idea that the Patek will attract women of stability, however his coworker chooses the sure thing: his Rolex. Shteyngart's positioning of Rolex as a cultural touchstone works because Rolex is, in actuality, the first-- and frequently the just-- view brand name individuals think about when it comes to high-end wrist watches.
Mercedes, Gucci and Apple have actually accomplished a comparable status on par with Rolex's. These brands have rooted themselves so deeply into the international culture that they have actually concerned represent much more than the items they label; they signify wealth, success, design and quality. Their cultural prominence has made these business indefatigable kings of their respective domains. As Rolex approaches its 100th anniversary, it is possible to determine the visionary techniques that put the company on the horological throne. 5 of those techniques stand out: Rolex's technical development, marketing élan, design consistency, monetary independence and selective scarcity have produced the company's unrivaled success amongst watch brands.
In 1905, German-born Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis established an eponymous company in London that imported Swiss motions, installed them in British cases and sold them to jewelry experts who put their own names on the dials. Noticing the capacity for their own brand to prosper in the burgeoning watch market, Wilsdorf dreamed up and protected the brand name Rolex in 1908.
Rolex Creator Hans Wilsdorf Rolex Founder Hans Wilsdorf Courtesy of Rolex
From the start, Wilsdorf understood the appeal of precision timekeeping. In 1910, a Rolex ended up being the first wristwatch to bring the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, bestowed by the Official Watch Ranking Centre in Bienne, Switzerland. Acknowledging the favorable impact this score had on sales, Wilsdorf protected a "Class A" Accuracy Certificate from the Kew Observatory in 1914, generally scheduled for marine chronometers. This accreditation resonated with British customers who understood that accurate timekeeping-- the option to the long-standing problem of navigating longitude-- had actually empowered the British Empire to control the seas in both battle and commerce. Hence began the convention of using civilians mechanical precision that very few require however lots of desire. Rolex has provided advanced precision ever because.
Need for Rolex watches increased swiftly, and British taxes on the Swiss motions Rolex utilized triggered Wilsdorf to transfer business to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1919. With production expenses lowered, Wilsdorf set out to fix the problem of moisture and dust going into the watch case and damaging the movement. The Rolex group developed a totally sealed watch case, which Wilsdorf dubbed the Oyster, and launched it to much fanfare in 1926. During the 1920s this screwed-together device was so innovative that some consumers, who were accustomed to protecting their watches even from rain, were follow this link hesitant. It would take some marketing brilliance to convince the basic population that the Oyster case was, indeed, water resistant.
Remarkably, the Oyster case structure is the reason for the fluted bezel found on many Rolex designs today. That bezel was fluted to receive an interlocking tool utilized to screw the bezel on and off of the mid-case. The caseback was similarly fluted for the same factors, but like any caseback, it never ever became a dominant visual cue. For decades, Rolex's fluted bezels have served no function, and the fluting itself has become gently flared (more like waves than ridges) to the point where, even if one attempted, no tool could interlock. Just like other technical innovations from Rolex, the visual impact has actually long outlived its functionality to become a signature of the brand name. Witness a professional tennis match, a global airport clock or a Rolex advertisement today and you're ensured to see that gleaming fluted bezel not doing anything more than gleam. It's an intriguing case of form outliving function.