Watch Articles

Rolex: The Brand’s Past and a Look to Its Future

March 1, 2017 - Watch Articles

Few luxury watch brands are as iconic as Rolex. We take a look back at Rolex over the years, from past releases to what is yet to come. At the last edition of Baselworld, Rolex unveiled what was arguably the hottest watch of the year: the new Daytona chronograph. Here, we explore the new Daytona, along with the greatest hits of Rolex in past years.


Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph DaytonaThis was the watch Rolex fans had been waiting for—a stainless steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona with a black Cerachrom ceramic bezel. Prior to the launch of the Rolex ref. 116520, the highly popular ceramic bezel was found exclusively on more expensive Daytona models in platinum or Everose. The Rolex ceramic bezel is prized not only for its sleek look, but also for its resistance to scratching and fading. It’s both robust and beautiful. And the black bezel version looks particularly stunning against the new Daytona’s stainless steel 40mm Oyster case and matching stainless steel Oyster bracelet. Both the black dial and white dial versions of the Daytona ref. 116520 are spectacular and as a result, it’s not uncommon for Rolex boutiques around the world to have multiple-year waitlists for these new Rolex chronograph models.


Rolex Air-King

Rolex Air-KingRolex surprised everyone with the revival of the previously discontinued Air-King. Now  it’s back with a completely new look. While the designs of the older versions of the Air-King were quite understated and classic, the new Air-King ref. 116900 is sporty and bold. To better suit today’s demand for bigger watches, the stainless steel case now measures 40mm—significantly larger than previous models. The black dial houses the characteristic oversized 3, 6, and 9 numerals in addition to minute markers for the rest of the indexes. At 12 o’clock sits a luminescent inverted triangle. Additionally, the green seconds hand matches the green “ROLEX” on the dial, which is further topped by the famous gold crown. There’s a lot going on with the new Air-King and whether it’s fresh and dynamic or simply just too cluttered, is still up for debate.


Datejust 41

Rolex Datejust 41Iconic in design, the Datejust has been Rolex’s flagship model since its debut in 1945. It was the very first waterproof automatic chronometer that included a date window on the dial. And over the course of the next 70 years, Rolex had produced countless versions of the classic luxury dress watch. In 2016, Rolex introduced the newest generation with the Datejust 41 to replace the Datejust II collection. As its name suggests, it sports a 41mm case and the first two models of the new line are a two-tone yellow gold and stainless steel version (ref. 126333) and a two-tone rose gold and stainless steel version (ref. 126331). Since variety is the name of the game with the Datejust, each model is available in a range of dial colors, bezel designs, and bracelet choices. A notable new addition to the Datejust 41 is the Rolex Caliber 3235 powering the watch. This in-house automatic movement provides the wearer with 72 hours of power reserve and is equipped with 14 Rolex patents for optimal reliability and precision.

About Rolex

Founded in London in 1905, the brand that was renamed Rolex in 1908 had already begun to specialize in technically innovative wristwatches by the time it relocated to Geneva in 1919. In 1926, Rolex developed the Oyster, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch and, in the following years, would go on to patent its Perpetual movement (1931), the first self-winding wrist chronometer (1945), the first divers’ watch that was guaranteed to be waterproof to a depth of 100 meters (1953), and innovations including the Day-Date (1956), which was the first watch to spell out both day and date on the dial. Today, Rolex models—from the Oyster Perpetual to the Cellini—command high resale value.

Rolex watches have been worn by the best-known explorers and athletes of our times. To promote the watch’s waterproof properties, Mercedes Gleitze wore a Rolex Oyster when she swam the English channel in 1927. Edmund Hillary wore an Oyster when he conquered Mount Everest in 1953 (which led to the development of Rolex’s Explorer collection). Today, the company sponsors contests in golf, motor sports, show jumping, tennis, and yachting, while its roster of brand ambassadors includes legendary names ranging from mountaineer Ed Veisturs to endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh, along with golfer Tiger Woods, race car driver Jackie Stewart, and tennis champion Roger Federer.

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Bio: A WP Diamonds luxury watch expert, Celine has enjoyed working in the horology industry for over ten years. Like many of the high-end timepieces she writes about, she comes from Switzerland—the heart of fine watchmaking. From Singapore to Montreal t...

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