Rolex: the birth of the myth

What do you think are the reasons for Rolex's success? The answer starts with the name and is not as obvious as it sounds.
It was 2 July 1908 when Hans Wilsdorf registered the Rolex trademark. The name was chosen on the basis of five requirements: it had to be short, no more than five letters; it had to be easily pronounced in all languages; it had to sound good; it had to be easy to remember; and it had to be aesthetically pleasing once written on a watch. In short, it had to meet marketing requirements, when marketing did not yet exist.

Among the first patents, in 1926 there was the world's first waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster; in 1931 the Perpetual rotor, a mechanism with a free rotor, forerunner of today's automatic winding systems, and two years later the Rolesor alloy, a combination of steel and gold, still used today with the platinum version Rolesium. Shortly before the 1950s, the collections that would ensure a future for Rolex appeared: 1945 saw the birth of the DateJust, in 1949 the Oyster evolved in its lines and mechanism, taking on the almost definitive forms of today, and 1953 saw the arrival of the Submariner, the first automatic underwater wristwatch, and the Explorer, which paid tribute to the first ascent of Mount Everest.

Hans Wilsdorf died in 1960, not without having secured a future for the brand. In 1945, he had in fact set up the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation in Geneva, whose main purpose was to ensure the survival and development of Rolex and to allocate donations to charitable organisations in the canton of Geneva if available. Upon his death, leadership passed to André J. Heiniger and the brand's golden age began. Technological research aimed at improving production and service, the branching out of distribution, the strictness of controls, but in particular a global vision of market policy, are all initiatives that made Rolex a unique phenomenon in watchmaking.