Rolex, Technology and Beyond


Rolex, a luxury watch brand, was founded by Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis, in 1905. Rolex Company is the largest watch manufacturer in the world, producing 2000 watches a day-a sign of status and class. It is a privately owned company, generating approx $3 billion in revenues (2003 figures). Rolex is famous not only for its exquisite watches, but also for its use of technology in every bit of its products.

Technical Innovations

Rolex takes credit for introducing state of the art mechanisms, which add quality to its watches.

* Introduced Rolex Date, in 1945; the first watch with automatic date change on the dial.
* Launched the first series of water proof wrist watches, Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner, in 1953.
* Maker of the Rolex GMT Master, first watch to display two times zones instantly, released in 1954.
* First watch making brand to be awarded with a Chronometer Certificate.

Automation: Rolex instituted its first self-winding wrist watch (watches, in which the mainspring runs, depending on the motion of the wearers, arm), in 1931. This not only replaced manual binding watches, but also assured accurate time show.

Water resistance: Hans Wilsdorf had made a special watch and put it to a real test by attaching it to the side of Trieste Bathyscaphe Submarine, which dived into the Mariana Trench. The test was a success, as the watch had been showing correct time during the test. Rolex was congratulated through a telegram that said, “Am happy to confirm that even at 11,000 meters your watch is as precise as on the surface. Best regards, Jacques Piccard”.

Quartz: Rolex, together with 16 other Swiss watch makers, created the Beta 21 mechanism, used in the Rolex Quartz Date 5100. After additional five years of analysis, design and progress, Rolex developed the “clean slate” mechanism, employed in its Oyster Quartz collection.


Let’s look at the technology used in the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller Deepsea (one its best models), a watch that promises water resistance even under 3900 meters.

* Has a nitrogen-alloyed high performance ring that can handle extreme water pressure quite well.
* Has a thicker layer of the sapphire crystal than other oyster models.
* The case back is made of titanium-alloy, which is not only an extremely resistant metal, but can slightly flex under pressure, reverting to its normal form.
* A helium valve works as a safety feature that blocks hazardous gases from the diver’s caissons, from entering the watch; thus, preventing damage to the watch.

Beware of knock-offs

Rolex is one of the most “copied” watch brands with replicas sold in stores and online. Some are nearly similar to the real thing. Here are some approaches to recognize a fake.

* If you find “Rollex” embossed, it is a sure fake.
* A Rolex has a transparent hologram sticker (which come with the Rolex Crown printed, after 2002) on its case back, which reflects prismatic colors viewed from various angles. While a replica will have repetitive pattern and it does not change colors when viewed from different angles.
* A real Rolex is sturdy and heavy, while fakes are made from cheap material, having light and a rough texture.

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1 Comment

  1. Great breakdown of the history of the Rolex. I linked here from (great watch community). This is a great tech blog.

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