Arguably the most recognized watch brand in the world, Rolex has long been synonymous with quality, craftsmanship, durability and prestige. Originally founded in London as Wilsdorf and Davis in 1905, the company changed its name to Rolex in 1908 because its founders wanted the brand to be easily pronounceable in any language. Shortly after World War I, the company relocated to Geneva, Switzerland to avoid taxation that was imposed in post-war Britain.
Over the years used Rolex and Rolex have been at the forefront of haute horology. Even though the company produces more watches than any other luxury watch brand, Rolex’s reputation for quality still remains the highest, submitting more than 750,000 watches annually to be certified by the COSC (Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres) as chronometers. Let’s explore some of the unique traits of this prestigious brand.
The Oyster Case
Rolex is credited with producing the world’s first waterproof and dustproof watch in 1926. This was accomplished by creating a fluted caseback that screws into the case, creating a tight hermetic seal that is impervious to the elements. The Oyster case is a hallmark of used Rolex engineering and one of the brand’s most recognizable features.
Mechanical watches would never be the same after 1931, when Rolex invented and patented the world’s first self-winding mechanism. Rather than winding a watch to give it power, used Rolex created an ingenious system using an internal self-winding rotor that automatically powers the watch with the movement of the wearer’s wrist. They called this innovation “Perpetual” as it could be wound constantly. When combined with the waterproof case, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch was born.
Yet another innovation previously never seen before on a wristwatch, Datejust was the introduction of the date in a window on the dial. This unique feature seems so simple, yet no other manufacturer had added it to their wristwatches. Doubling up on this effort was the eventual introduction of the day of the week at the top of the dial, known as Day-Date. The days of the week have been written in dozens of different languages so that customers around the world could easily tell what date and day of the week it was, and it made the brand instantly recognizable. Some models include a cyclops lens for magnification of the date, which has become a used Rolex hallmark since its introduction on the Submariner model in 1953.
Rolex owns and operates its own foundry. With this, the company can create its own gold, platinum and stainless steel alloys that are used in their watches. The company often trademarks names for each of these precious metals as they are specifically and uniquely created by used Rolex, for Rolex. “Oystersteel” is a stainless steel belonging to the 904L steel family and is highly prized for its ability to retain a high polish and to resist corrosion. “Rolesor” is their combination of steel and gold, a mixture of two metals that produce incredible depth and balance. As with all materials used in their watches (including precious stones and ceramic), only the highest quality is carefully selected.
Bracelets and Clasps
A distinguishing feature of Rolex watches is their carefully crafted and ergonomic bracelets. Rolex’s Oysterlock clasp features advanced engineering to produce outstanding lock retention while being able to be operated smoothly. The Glidelock system is a double expansion bracelet that allows the wearer to expand the bracelet in small increments, making quick adjustments easily possible. Used Rolex focuses on creating bracelets and clasps that are exceptionally comfortable, yet durable and easy to operate.
Rolex’s famous Twinlock and Triplock winding crowns provide superior protection against water and dust from entering into the case. These crowns screw into the case itself, providing yet another hermetic seal with either two or three zones of sealing, depending on the model. And speaking of crowns, used Rolex’s signature five-point coronet logo is prominently displayed at the 12 o’clock position on the dial of each and every watch.
Extreme Testing and Durability
The overwhelming majority of used Rolex watches are certified chronometers. To meet the strict qualifications to obtain this certification, each Rolex watch undergoes a series of intense tests that not only validate the accuracy of the movement, but also the strength of all the components. The latest generation of the Oysterlock bracelet underwent 26 different types of drop tests during development. It was also immersed in tanks of chlorine and salt water with sand to ensure complete functionality in the harshest of environments. They are also tested to pressures at least 10% greater than which they are guaranteed, and 25% greater for their diver’s watches.
Rolex is easily the most counterfeited watch brand in the world. A genuine Rolex watch has several features that will distinguish the real item from an imitation. Each watch has its own serial number, which is now laser-engraved inside the rehaut that holds the watch face. The serial number is also located on the inside of the endlink of the bracelet. Inside the caseback, a different serial number is also used. These two different serial numbers are recorded as a pair at the Rolex factory and must match when taken in for service to verify that the timepiece is authentic. Finally, Rolex laser-etches their crown logo on the inside of the sapphire crystal at the 6 o’clock position. This requires a jeweler’s loupe and correct lighting to be seen. Looking for these features is especially important when purchasing a used Rolex.
Complete In-House Production
Over the course of its history, Rolex has gradually taken ownership of all aspects of the production of its watches. While it is extremely common for a watch manufacturer to source parts from other manufacturers, Rolex has now purchased all of its suppliers outright. Rolex has four separate factories located across Switzerland in which various parts of their watches are fabricated, assembled and tested. All of Rolex’s movements are assembled entirely by hand, and all parts of the watch are made exclusively by Rolex.
Retention of Value
Rolex watches have a long history of retaining value over the years. It is common to see them passed down from generation to generation. In recent years the popularity and demand for Rolex timepieces has increased so much that some used Rolex timepieces have actually appreciated in value. Each watch is essentially a hand-built work of art, standing the test of time and providing excellent timekeeping over decades of use. Owning either a new or used Rolex is truly a delight.