How the brand’s history began

Originally, the company of Rolex was founded by Hans Wildorf and Alfred Davis in 1905. Many people compare Wildorf to a well known figure today, stating that his character very much was similar to the one of Steve Jobs and his importance for the development of Apple. (1) He was linguistically gifted and feeling at home in both England and Swiss, having been born and raised in Germany throughout his early childhood.

In the beginning, the company only offered two different types of watches: a pocket watch, popular at the time, and a watch designed respectively for both, man and women. This was unusual in the early stages of the 20th century, for wristwatches were only made in small size as to resemble to the needs of women and were neither said to be very accurate.

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The quickly focussed on develop high standard watches and created a brand name which Wildorf wanted to be unique, short enough to be remembered and not to be misspelled. Some might say he oriented himself by great brand names like Kodak or Coke, both short and easily pronounced in different languages. In 1908, the name of one of the best known brands of today was born: Rolex. Actually, they only added the image of the crown to their trademark in 1925 which also is still in place today and shows the traditional nut successful communication strategy of the company.

The main challenges for wristwatches in the 1910s were still missing accuracy, the autowinding and a resistance to water and dust. The first was taken on when Rolex became the first company ever to be awarded a certificate on the precision of their watches and since then strove for perfection on chronometric precision. This introduced an official timing certificate for all types of Rolex watches and revolutionized the industry, setting a quality standard for all their competitors. (2)

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Being an innovator, Rolex also started early in relating their brand with popular sports persons and the world of sport in general. The art of aviation, motor racing and adventurous expeditions created a great environment for the company they used both as a laboratory as well as a space to raise awareness of their products. This still hasn’t changed today and, as fascinating as it is, we will give the current communication strategy of Rolex a closer look later on to compare its current strategies with its revolutionary beginnings.

Alix Rekersbrink



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