Hans Wilsdorf founded the company in London. At that time the wrist watches were imprecise, and Wilsdorf aimed to make a watch which was not only precise but elegant as well. He used small movements which were manufactured by a watchmaking firm based in Bienne, Switzerland. He came up with the name Rolex since it was short to fit inside the timepiece and was also easy to pronounce in any language. The company paid attention to the quality of the movements, and its quest for chronometric precision led to the production of a successful product.
In 1910, a Rolex watch received the Swiss Certificate of precision by the official watch rating center in Bienne. In 1914, Kew Observatory in Great Britain awarded Rolex with a class A certificate. This certificate was only awarded to marine chronometers at that time. From that point onwards, Rolex was considered as a brand which was associated with quality products only. Rolex shifted its headquarter to Geneva in 1919. In 1926, the company launched the Oyster which was the first waterproof watch with a sealed case to protect the inner movements. In 1927, an English swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze wore the Oyster watch while swimming across the English channel. The watch survived the 10-hour journey and stayed in good working condition. This was an example of the company’s excellent early branding and marketing strategies.
In 1933, a team of explorers flew over Everest while wearing Rolexes. Sir Edmund Hillary, climbed Everest while wearing Rolex as well. By now, the company managed to establish its name as a brand of watches which was worn by high-achievers. Each watch that leaves the factory in Bienne is tested for high quality and high standard. The independent Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute also tests them. Each watch earns the title of Superlative Chronometer, and each Rolex is accurate to -2/+2 seconds a day which is far enhanced as compared to the usual standard of -4/+6 seconds per day. The inner parts of the watches are costly to develop and take a lot of time and money to be manufactured. These watch movements are expensive to make. They are small and have a high failure rate during the manufacturing process. All these parts are required to be assembled by hand and Swiss have one of the highest labor costs all over the world. Moreover, the materials are also expensive to get.
It can also be said that Rolex doesn’t overprice its watches since if you sell one after wearing it for a year, you will not lose much money. Some popular models also rise in its value after 10 to 20 years. This appreciation in value is rare in watches, but it is there with the Rolex’s intelligent marketing and brand value. Mechanical watches are not only difficult and expensive to manufacture but also difficult to design. So while considering the cost of the Rolex, the development, workmanship, material cost, as well as the brand value, must also be considered. Watch this video to know more about Rolex and its timepieces.