Founded in 1920 in Geneva by Hans Wilsdorf, Montres Rolex S.A. is one of the most well-known watch manufacturers in the world today. The name “Rolex” was chosen because Wilsdorf wanted a brand that could be easily pronounced in any language and would not be more than five letters. He also wanted something easy to remember and that would look elegant inscribed on the dial and movement of a watch.
The company is also known for pioneering timepieces like the Oyster — the world’s first waterproof wristwatch which was equipped with a patented system comprising a screw-down bezel, caseback and winding crown. Other innovations down the line include the Cyclops lens and Parachrom hairspring, as well as materials like Cerachrom and Everose gold—their proprietary blend of rose gold.
In 2015, the company introduced a new in-house certification for all its timepieces with criteria more stringent than that of regular watchmaking standards. Each “Superlative Chronometer” guarantees precision after casing of -2/+2 seconds per day, more than twice that required of an official chronometer, making it just one of the many high standards Rolex holds itself to.
Long overshadowed by its Oyster case brethren, the Cellini is that other, dressier half of the Rolex's dual-range catalogue, with the Cellini Prince dating back to the 1920s. The Cellini bears the distinction of being the first mass-produced watch to gain a chronometer certification, when a batch of 500 chronometers were produced for King George V's Silver Jubilee in 1936.
The Cosmograph was introduced in 1963, with the tachymeter scale for measuring speed engraved upon the bezel. 'Daytona' would be inscribed upon the dial the following year to mark Rolex's sponsorship of the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race held at Daytona Beach, Florida. The signature screw-down chronograph pushers
came a year later, to prevent unintended activation of the chronograph.
Introduced in 1945, it was the first wristwatch to feature a date aperture. The original model displayed even numbered dates in red and odd numbered dates in black. In 1955, Rolex introduced instantaneous date change at midnight, along with the Cyclops lens over the date window offering 2.5x magnification.
Intended for adventurers, the Explorer is one of the best loved in the Rolex catalogue. Introduced in 1953, it is based on the watch supplied to Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in their first successful ascent of Mount Everest. Rolex followed up with the Explorer II in 1971, sporting a 24-hour hand, which helped the wearer distinguish day and night hours when read off the fixed graduated bezel.
The Milgauss was introduced in 1956 as an anti-magnetic watch aimed at scientists and engineers and designed to run true in high-tech environments like power plants, medical facilities and research laboratories, where strong magnetic fields present could throw a watch off time. Discontinued in 1988, it was brought back in 2007, featuring improved antimagnetic performance.
Rolex's first waterproof watch dates back to the Oyster of 1926, made famous the following year by Mercedes Gleitze who swam across the English Channel with it. It wasn't till 1953 that Rolex created its own dive watch: the Submariner, made popular through its appearance in early James Bond movies, particularly those starring Sean Connery.
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