Rolex Brand Review By Alexander – Founder and Owner of swissdiverswatches.com
In 1905, Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis founded Wilsdorf and Davis – the forerunner of Rolex, in London, United Kingdom. In 1908 it was renamed Rolex. Rolex moved its operations in 1919 to Geneva in Switzerland, where Rolex is located even today.
Rolex is one of the very few independent Swiss watchmakers left in the industry.
In 1905, Hans Wilsdorf founded Wilsdorf and Davies – the forerunner of Rolex. Wilsdorf and Davies was founded in London, United Kingdom. Mr Wilsdorf’s company was founded for the purpose of distributing timepieces.
His dream was to create wristwatches, but back then, wristwatches were neither too common nor very accurate. His vision was to create wristwatches that were elegant and reliable. From the very start, Mr Wilsdorf relied on Swiss movements from the Swiss city of Bienne.
In 1908, Hans Wilsdorf invented the name Rolex. The origins of the Rolex name is not entirely known but it’s said that Mr Wilsdorf wanted a short word, or name, that was easy to remember, and would look good on the watch’s dial, and could be easily pronounced in any language.
There is no intended meaning behind the name of Rolex – that’s the honest truth of it. With regard to the choice of the actual name, we can say with hindsight that Mr Wilsdorf made absolutely the right choice! However, Mr Wilsdorf did say that he thought that the name Rolex resembled the sound an automatic watch makes when you wind it manually.
In 1910, a Rolex watch became the world’s first chronometer certified watch. Rolex decided from the outset, that they wanted to make very accurate and reliable movements.
In 1914, the Kew Observatory in the United Kingdom, awarded Rolex a class “A” accuracy certificate.
In 1919, Rolex moved from London, United Kingdom, to the famous and celebrated epicenter of Swiss watchmaking – Geneva, Switzerland. Rolex was registered as Montres Rolex S.A. in 1920.
In 1926, Rolex invented the very first waterproof watch. These watches were dustproof and waterproof, and were hermetically sealed, thusly named by Rolex “Oyster”. Even today, several Rolex collections are designated as Oyster Perpetual. This designation can be found on the dials on several Rolex collections.
In 1927, the English swimmer Mercedes Gleitze swam across the English channel, wearing a Rolex watch – thusly proving that Rolex indeed is waterproof!
In 1931, the legendary watch manufacturer invented the automatic/perpetual movement equipped with a perpetual/semi-circular rotor, used in all automatic watches today. Rolex invented and patented this technology. True, the concept of the “automatic watch” existed prior to Rolex’s invention, but in truth, it was none other than Rolex that made this a viable and reliable technology in ubiquitous automatic wristwatches across the world.
In 1933, the first expedition ever to fly over Mount Everest, utilized Rolex’s wristwatches, and the performance of the watches was immaculate.
In 1935, the company started testing their Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches in real life situations, such as expeditions, aviation, sports and motor racing.
In 1935, Rolex and the world’s fastest driver – Sir Malcolm Campbell became partners. He was wearing Rolex’s watches and tested them while he broke several speed records between the 1920s and the 1930s.
In 1945, the legendary luxury watch manufacturer invented the famous Rolex Datejust. It’s a significant invention because it was the very first automatic chronometer certified wristwatch with a date window. Yes, it was Rolex that invented the date function in wristwatches.
Below: the modern generation of the iconic Rolex Datejust, known as Rolex Datejust II.
From the early 1950s and onwards, Rolex became consistently associated with extremely rugged, robust and well built watches, used by adventurers and explorers.
In 1953, the first people to climb Mount Everest – Tenzig Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, were wearing Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches.
The same year, Rolex gained valuable insights into the lifestyle of adventurers, extreme sports and mountaineering, and launched the Rolex Explorer. The modern version of this watch/collection, is called Rolex Explorer II.
In 1953, Rolex invented one of the first and earliest divers watches in the world, called the Rolex Submariner, which back then was water resistant down to 100 meters. Today, Rolex Submariner is water resistant down to 300 meters.
Wrist shot by Hypo.Physe:
Below: the modern Rolex Submariner:
The 1950s, was the decade of intercontinental air travel and the importance of telling time in several time zones became important.
In 1955, the watchmaker responded to the increased intercontinenal commercial air travel, by launching Rolex GMT-Master, the world’s first wristwatch with a GMT function. The modern version of this watch/collection is called Rolex GMT-Master II.
Below: modern version of the Rolex GMT-Master – the Rolex GMT Master II:
In 1956, the luxury brand launched the Rolex Day-Date, equipped with a day – and a date function.
From 1956, influential men and women across the world, began the “tradition” of wearing a Rolex Day-Date.
In 1956, Rolex invented the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss, which was designed to withstand magnetic fields of 1,000 gauss. This watch was designed for the scientific community. The same year, the CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) could confirm that Rolex Milgauss could indeed withstand 1,000 Gauss.
In 1957, the company launched the Rolex Lady – Datejust.
In 1960, the watch producer launched the Rolex Deep Sea Special specifically designed for deep sea diving. The same year, mankind ventured for the first time to the deepest depression on the Earth’s Surface – the Marina Trench. The experimental submarine Trieste dived to a depth of 37,800 feet/10,916 meters. The Rolex Deep Sea Special, which was an experimental watch, was attached to the outside of the submarine. Both the submarine and the Rolex came out of the abyss in perfect working order.
In 1962, Rolex became the official timekeeper of Ian Fleming’s fictional world famous, secret, suave and sophisticated British agent, James Bond 007. The first Bond actor, Sean Connery, was wearing a Rolex Submariner in the first Bond movie called Dr. No, released in 1962. The particular model Sean Connery was wearing, was a Rolex Submariner Model Nr. 6538.
The brand-new, fresh from the factory, modern Rolex Submariners, are indeed similar but different to the old Rolex Submariner.
If you want the original “James Bond Rolex Submariner”, you should take a look at the vintage Rolex Submariners dating back to the 1960s. They are no longer in production.
The closest thing you’ll get to the original “James Bond Rolex Submariner” among the modern Rolex Submariners, would be Rolex Submariner Model/Reference Nr. 114060, also known as the Rolex Submariner No-Date.
In 1963, the company launched the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona which is a waterproof, robust tool watch built for racing drivers. The watch is equipped with a chronograph function and a tachymeter scale.
In 1967, the watch manufacturer launched the famous Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller which is the ultimate divers watch collection invented and manufactured by Rolex. The original Rolex Sea-Dweller was water resistant to 610 meters. Today, there are two versions of the Sea-Dweller. The smaller version is water resistant to 1,220 meters/4000 feet, while the larger version is water resistant to 3,900 meters/12,800 feet.
Below: a vintage Rolex Sea Dweller:
In 1971, the luxury brand launched the Rolex Explorer II, which was designed for speleologists, polar explorers and mountaineers.
In 1978, the watch producer launched the Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000 which is water resistant to 1,220 meters/4000 feet.
Below: the modern Rolex Sea Dweller 4000:
In 1985, Rolex started using the 904L stainless steel alloy, which is one of the toughest steel grades you can find today. The 904L is used primarily in the aerospace and chemical industries and in the world of high-technology. To my knowledge, Rolex is the only luxury watch manufacturer that uses the 904L stainless steel alloy.
In 1989, Rolex was used the very last time by Ian Fleming’s fictional secret British agent, James Bond 007. Timothy Dalton, starring as James Bond in Licence To Kill was wearing a Rolex Submariner. In the subsequent Bond movie called GoldenEye, released in 1995, Omega became the official timekeeper of the James Bond movies.
In 1992, the company launched the Rolex Pearlmaster which is another version of the Rolex Lady-Datejust.
In 1992, the luxury watch producer launched the Rolex Yacht-Master which is a combined sailing and divers watch.
In 2000, Rolex invented the 4130 movement used for the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.
In 2005, the watch manufacturer invented and patented the cerachrom bezel which is a ceramic bezel nearly impervious to scratches. It was conceived and invented for durable functionality and beauty.
In 2005, Rolex invented the blue parachrom hairspring which is entirely anti-magnetic and 10 times more shock resistant than common hairsprings.
All automatic and mechanical watches of all brands, contain a hairspring, which regulates the movement of the balance wheel, which determines each “beat” or “tick” of the movement. Those hairsprings are usually made of ferromagnetic steel alloys, susceptible to magnetism – which might affect the movement’s accuracy and reliability.
Rolex however, uses the parachrom hairspring which means Rolex is significantly ahead of the game. Very few luxury brands besides Rolex use anti-magnetic movements – I believe Omega is one of them, with the introduction of Omega’s in-house made co-axial movement.
In 2007, the brand launched the Rolex Yacht-Master II.
In 2008, Rolex released the world renowned Rolex Deep Sea, which is a divers watch for extreme underwater activities.
In 2012, the company from Geneva launched the Rolex Sky-Dweller which offers a dual time zone for travellers.
In 2012, movie director James Cameron, became the first human to venture to the Mariana Trench since 1960. A Rolex watch was again placed on the outside of the submarine and both the submarine and the Rolex survived with immaculate performance.
In 2012, the luxury watch brand launched an experimental divers watch called Rolex Deep Sea Challenge which is waterresistant to 12,000 meters/39,370 feet.
In 2013, Rolex entered into a partnership with Formula 1 racing as the official timekeeper.
Rolex is about achieving absolute and unmatched quality. Rolex is driven by a highly innovative and original approach to watchmaking.
Rolex’s mission is very straightforward: to invent, conceive, design, manufacture, assemble and quality test, the highest level of quality luxury timepieces, in a way and a fashion, and to a degree and to an extent, which noone else does it, can or would do it.
In other words: Rolex is making Swiss luxury timepieces in a manner which is completely unique to their brand.
Rolex is a 100% independent Swiss watchmaker – one of the very few left. Rolex is based in Geneva (western Switzerland) – the most prestigious location of Swiss watchmaking.
Everything, except for the chronometer test, is done in-house by Rolex. Every movement, every component of each movement, every sapphire crystal glass, every dial, every case, every bracelet, every clasp, every quality test and every water-, shock-, and magnetism resistance test, is done 100% in-house by Rolex.
Rolex is about achieving absolute, unmatched, unmitigated, relentless, uncompromising excellence and quality. Rolex truly represents innovative and original approaches and solutions.
Rolex belongs to a very small and exclusive club of Swiss watchmakers, where 100% of the watch movements are chronometer certified by the COSC.
COSC stands for the French term “Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres”. In English it means: “the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute”. The tests involve accuracy and reliability.
The Geneva based luxury watch producer even smelts their own metals because they want 100% control and insight into every single conceivable aspect of the watchmaking stages!
Rolex uses the highest steel grade on the market – the 904L stainless steel alloy, which is primarily used in the chemical industries, in the aerospace industry, and in the world of high-technology. The 904L stainless steel alloy has a high corrosion resistance, and has good formability and weldability. It can resist temperatures of 450 degrees Celsius or 824 degrees Fahrenheit. The steel grade is meant to be used for the most demanding situations, and highly corrosive conditions. Few steel grades, if any, can match the 904L stainless steel alloy used by Rolex.
Besides the 904L stainless steel alloy, Rolex also utilizes 18 carat yellow gold and 18 carat white gold.
Most modern Rolex timepieces are equipped with a new clasp system called “glidelock” which can be used to adjust the bracelet on the fly without having to use any tools whatsoever. To my knowledge, this is completely unique to Rolex.
Below: the exquisite Rolex Glidelock System which allows you to adjust the bracelet on the fly without using any tools:
Rolex watches despite their elegant and sporty looks, are in fact built like tanks! The bracelets and the clasps are simply excellent and second to none. I’ve never seen a brand which exudes such relentless and uncompromising build quality! Yes, I speak from personal experience.
All movements are in-house made by Rolex, and most of them, if not all of them, are shock- and magnetism resistant. Magnetism can affect an automatic movement.
Rolex movements are very accurate, robust, serviceable and durable. Yes these are simple meat and potatoes movements, they usually just perform the most basic time measuring functions (hour-, minute-, second hands, and a date window) and Rolex’s movements aren’t decorated, but these are stellar movements!
If serviced properly, a Rolex watch can most likely outlast the wearer of the watch.
Rolex does, to a certain degree, make chronographs, but they are to my knowledge found in the Rolex Yacht-Master II Collection (combined sailors/divers watches), and the Rolex Daytona Collection (which is water resistant, but isn’t a divers watch).
Rolex is famous for the Oyster Perpetual Collection which encompasses most of Rolex’s collections – including GMT-Master II, Yacht-Master II, Sea Dweller, Submariner, and Explorer (it’s water resistant, but it isn’t a divers watch), just to mention a few examples.
The Oyster Perpetual Collection forms the backbone of the Rolex brand, and is famous because all of their watches are water and pressure resistant!
Rolex tests their timepieces to the extremes!
Rolex watches have consistently proven that they can be used in the most extreme situations you can think of – including deep sea diving and mountaineering.
The bracelet and the clasp:
- The famous Rolex bracelet and clasp – the oysterlock, undergoes 26 drop tests of various kinds.
- The oysterlock is also submerged into tanks filled with chlorine, and salt water. Sand is added to the test hundreds, if not thousands of times – 3 times the clasp’s expected durability. The purpose is to simulate extremely harsh conditions. Every oysterlock must pass this test.
One of the most demanding tests used by Rolex:
- Rolex watches are submitted to a crash test where the impact is equivalent to 5000 G (5000 G-Force) – hundreds of times more severe than a car crash. After being submitted to this test, Rolex watches are still expected to be fully functional, to retain the highest level of movement accuracy and reliability, and to be entirely unharmed. That’s what I call quality.
Rolex water resistance tests:
- Rolex uses extreme water resistance tests – 10% greater pressure than the water resistance given on the dial, and 25% greater pressure than the water resistance level given on the dial of Rolex divers watches.
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches have actually been tested to be water resistant down to at least 100 meters.
Rolex also tests their watches in order to simulate ageing and daily wear and tear:
- Rolex applies advanced machinery and robots to simulate the movements done by your hand and arm for years, only this highly intense and extreme test is done in a week.
Rolex’s movement accuracy:
- The Rolex movement accuracy must fulfill the criteria set by COSC. Rolex’s accuracy rate is equivalent to 99.998%.
All Rolex movements are invented, designed and manufactured by Rolex.
First, let’s start with what’s common for all brands: All automatic and mechanical watches of all brands, contain a hairspring, which regulates the movement of the balance wheel, which determines each “beat” or “tick” of the movement. Those hairsprings are usually made of ferromagnetic steel alloys, susceptible to magnetism – which might affect the movement’s accuracy and reliability.
Rolex is ahead of the game. Rolex uses a so called Parachrom hairspring. This technology is very particular and unusual because it is 100% anti-magnetic and 10 times more shock resistant!
Rolex is certainly right: Their approach to watchmaking resembles no other brand and watch manufacturer out there.
All Rolex’s movements are entirely in-house made by Rolex, and 100% of Rolex’s movements are chronometer certified by COSC – the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute.
The tests involve accuracy and reliability. This makes Rolex a member of an unusual and exclusive club of prestigious Swiss watchmakers.
Rolex’s divers watch collections use fairly similar movements.
- Rolex in-house automatic movement 3186, with 31 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 50 hour power reserve.
- Rolex in-house automatic movement 3135, with 31 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 50 hour power reserve.
- Rolex in-house automatic movement 3135, with 31 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 50 hour power reserve.
- Rolex in-house automatic movement 3130, with 31 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 48 hour power reserve.
- Rolex in-house automatic movement 2235, with 31 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 48 hour power reserve.
- Rolex in-house automatic movement 3135, with 31 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 50 hour power reserve.
- Rolex in-house automatic movement 4160, with 42 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 72 hour power reserve. This movement is used for Rolex chronographs.
Rolex’s movements are known all across the world to be very – maybe even extremely – accurate, reliable, robust, serviceable and durable. Rolex’s movements and the technology used in them are legendary.
Even though Rolex is one of the most prestigious and respected Swiss luxury watchmakers in the world, their movements are really workhorse movements – these are stellar movements, but nonetheless simple meat and potatoes movements, that are extremely durable and will most likely outlast the wearer of the watch – if serviced properly.
Rolex is Rolex – there is no brand out there that even resembles it. Rolex is most likely the most famous luxury watch manufacturer that has ever existed, with an unmatched prestige and reputation.
Its fame is mythical and legendary! Hardly anyone on this planet hasn’t heard of Rolex. Rolex has consistently been associated with success, wealth and influence since the 1950s and the 1960s.
As far as ranking is concerned, I’d place Rolex among the top 5 or the top 7 luxury wristwatch manufacturers and brands in the world.
Rolex was already an established brand by the 1940s and 1950s, and became an unmatched status symbol during the 1950s and the 1960s. Rolex’s mythical and legendary prestige and reputation started in the 1980s.
Much of the wristwatch technology that we today take for granted, was invented by Rolex.
- That would include the modern automatic wristwatch movement.
- The first water resistant watches – using the oyster shaped case, called the “oyster case”.
- The screw-down-crown for divers watches.
- Rolex was among the first brands that invented the first modern divers watches. Blancpain supposedly invented the very first modern divers watch – the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in 1953. Rolex however launched the legendary Rolex Submariner the very same year. If Blancpain indeed was the very first, then Rolex wasn’t far behind.
- Rolex invented the first watches equipped with a date function – the legendary Rolex Datejust, launched in 1945.
- Rolex was the first watch manufacturer and brand to invent GMT-movements, for measuring time in a second time zone. The watch is called Rolex GMT Master and was launched in 1955.
Rolex is one of very few 100% independent Swiss watchmakers left in the industry. Rolex is an industrial and economic giant with a technical prowess and innovation that few brands and manufacturers can match.
Rolex offers their timepieces at retailers all over the world, Rolex is immensely successful and popular, and Rolex is a financial powerhouse – it’s the financial and industrial giant of the Swiss watchmaking industry, outside the reputed Swatch Group.
Rolex are among the most robust, sturdy and well built watches on the market. I’ve held several watches and brands in my hands. I can personally attest to Rolex’s superior build quality. Very few brands come close to Rolex’s standards!
As far as movements are concerned, Rolex uses stellar but simple meat and potatoes movements, that are very accurate, reliable, serviceable and durable. Rolex’s movements will most likely outlast the wearer – if serviced properly.
All Rolex movements are in-house made, and every single aspect of the manufacturing process is done in-house by Rolex! They even smelt their own metals and make rigorous quality inspections of their timepieces!
There are many reasons as to why Rolex is so legendary:
(1) Rolex does everything in-house – except for the chronometer certificate. Rolex makes their own movements and Rolex even smelts its own metals!
(2) Rolex is a fully independent financial giant. Rolex and Omega, set the tone for the Swiss luxury watch industry. Not a single Swiss brand and watch manufacturer, single handedly wields such influence and dominance such as those enjoyed by Rolex. Swatch Group, Richemont Group just to mention a few, are business empires and conglomerates, that own several Swiss brands, but Rolex is a 100% independent industrial and economic powerhouse.
(3) Besides Patek Philippe, Rolex has the best resale value on the market.
(4) In 2012, Forbes ranked Rolex as the 57th most powerful global brand.
(5) The concept of the modern wristwatch was born through Rolex.
(6) In 1931, Rolex invented the first self-winding wristwatch -the Rolex Oyster Perpetual.
(7) Rolex is also the first brand to have received the chronometer certificate from “Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres”, the “Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute”.
(8) In 1945, Rolex invented the first chronometer watch with a date changing function – the Rolex Datejust.
(9) In 1953, Rolex invented one the earliest divers watches in the world – the legendary Rolex Submariner. The first Submariner was water-resistant to 100 meters. Today the Rolex Submariner is water-resistant to 300 meters.
(10) In 1955, the company invented the first watch to keep time in two time zones – the Rolex GMT Master.
(11) Rolex is known to have conceived and manufactured among the most accurate, reliable, serviceable and durable automatic movements in the industry – the famous Rolex in-house movements 3130 and 3135.
(12) Rolex uses the highest steel grade on the market – the 904L stainless steel alloy, which is primarily used in the chemical industries, in the aerospace industry, and in the world of high-technology. The 904L stainless steel alloy has a high corrosion resistance, and has good formability and weldability. It can resist temperatures of 450 degrees Celsius or 824 degrees Fahrenheit. The steel grade is meant to be used for the most demanding situations, and highly corrosive conditions. Few steel grades, if any, can match the 904L stainless steel alloy used by Rolex.
(13) Their build quality is known to be superior to most brands out there. I’ve held several brands and models in my hands, and to this date, I can’t think of a single brand out there where the build quality matches Rolex. Seriously!
(14) The brand has long been associated with diving, professional divers and the quest to go deeper and further – and to develop high quality divers watches for that purpose. Rolex has probably invented and conceived among the most well made, legendary, and celebrated divers watches ever made by man! The legendary Rolex divers watches, the Submariner and the Sea Dweller have travelled to the bottom of the ocean.
In 1960, Rolex was used by the crew of the submarine “Bathyscaphe Trieste” when they travelled to the bottom of the ocean – the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean, to a depth of 35,761 feet/10,900 meters. The watch was placed on the outside of the submarine, and the watch survived!
A few years ago, movie director James Cameron travelled to the bottom of the ocean. Again, the Mariana Trench was the destination. Mr Cameron travelled to a depth of 35,787 feet/10,908 meters. Rolex made the specially designed divers watch Rolex Sea Dweller Deep Sea Challenger (water resistant to 39,370 feet /12,000 m) for this journey and Mr Cameron placed the timepiece on the outside of the mini submarine. The watch survived!
(15) Rolex is intimately associated with yachting and has developed a watch for that purpose – the legendary Rolex Yacht-Master II.
(16) Rolex is also intimately associated with adventures and mountaineering. Rolex has also equipped the pioneers who climbed Mount Everest. Among the watches they used was the highly refined tool watch – Rolex Explorer.
(17) Rolex has had a partnership with racing and motor sports since the 1930s. Today Rolex is a partner of Formula 1.
(18) Since 1967, Rolex has been a partner of golf.
(19) Since 1978, Rolex has been the official timekeeper of the tennis championships.
(20) Rolex has had a partnership with equestrianism for over 50 years.
(21) Rolex has consistently been associated with people of power and influence, and has been worn by a few American Presidents, several world leaders and numerous celebrities and actors.
(22) Ian Fleming, who wrote the James Bond novels, wrote in his books that his secret fictional agent was wearing a Rolex.
(23) Rolex was the official timekeeper of the fictional secret British agent James Bond 007, in the early Bond movies of the 1960s, 1970s and occasionally in the 1980s as well. The Rolex Submariner is known to be the original James Bond watch (before Mr Bond switched to Omega), and Rolex Submariner has been used by Bond actors Sean Connery, Roger Moore and occasionally by Timothy Dalton.
What celebrities are known to have worn Rolex?
It’s a pretty long list really! Here are a few examples: Former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan.
Other celebrities: Ian Fleming (the British author who invented the fictional British Secret Agent James Bond 007), Bond actors Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, Sir Donald Pleasence, David Petraeus, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron, Jason Statham, Jean Claude Van Damme, Hillary Clinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Beckham, Nicolas Sarkozy (former President of France), Brad Pitt and many others!
Now regarding luxury brand competition: Without a doubt, Rolex and Omega are each other’s main competitors.
Rolex and Omega are each other’s main competitors based on the following criteria:
- Price range (although Rolex tends to be more expensive)
- Level of movement complications.
- Quality, technical excellence, accuracy, reliability and durability of their movements.
- Innovations and technical solutions.
- Pioneering spirit.
- Imposing history.
- Impact on watchmaking history.
- Omega and Rolex have been figting each other, as far as their marketing is concerned, for who has got the best divers watch since the late 1950s and early 1960s.
- Both brands are intimately associated with Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007. These two luxury brands have so far dominated among the watches utilised in the Bond Movies.
Rolex tends to be worn among people in their 30s and 40s (and older), while Omega tends to appeal to people in their 20s and 30s. However, in all honesty, this is a generalization, and an oversimplification, since you can find people who think and wear the exact opposite despite their age bracket.
The major strengths of the Rolex brand are:
(1) Rolex belongs to a small and exclusive club of Swiss watch manufacturers, where 100% of the movements are chronometer certified.
(2) Rolex’s automatic movements are among the most accurate, reliable, serviceable and durable in the world. Rolex makes simple meat and potatoes movements – yes, but these are stellar movements that most likely will outlast the wearer. Rolex’s movements are among the most tested and reliable movements you can find.
(3) Rolex watches are very comfortable to wear!
(4) Rolex’s build quality is, seriously, superior to most brands out there. Even though Rolex watches tend to be elegant and sporty looking, they are in fact built like tanks!
(5) Rolex uses the best steel grade alloy on the market – the 904L stainless steel alloy, which is used in the high tech industry, in chemical industries, and in the aerospace industry.
(6) Rolex develops, invents, conceives, designs, manufactures and produces everything in-house! Not only does Rolex make their own movements – Rolex also smelts their own metals!
(7) Rolex watches are very versatile and can be used for any occasion.
(8) Most modern Rolex timepieces are equipped with a new clasp system called “glidelock” which can be used to adjust the bracelet on the fly without having to use any tools whatsoever.
(9) The dial readability is excellent.
(10) Alongside Patek Philippe, Rolex has the best resale value on the market.
(11) Many proud Rolex owners across the world have personally attested to the quality of their Rolex watches. Rolex timepieces are absolutely water resistant, built like tanks and can be used for the most demanding and exacting situations.
(12) Rolex watches are luxury watches and tool watches all in one. You can safely wear your Rolex timepiece every single day – even in extreme sports.
(13) Rolex’s customer service is famous across the world for being very reliable, speedy, excellent and exquisite.
There might be 5 slight and trivial disappointments, regarding the Rolex brand, among watch enthusiasts and connoisseurs:
(1) Rolex is very conservative with regards to its design. Rolex very reluctantly changes the general appearance of their watches. Even slight changes and modifications in aesthetics and design might take years and even decades.
(2) Rolex rarely changes or modifies its movement technology, and the technology and the design of their cases, bracelets and clasps – even though several relevant changes and improvements have indeed been made over the last few years. Rolex’s philosophy can probably be summarized by this sentence: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
(3) Rolex rarely makes any complications and rarely makes any chronographs. This brand likes to stick to the basics: hour-, minute-, and second-hands, and a date window. On the other hand, that’s what most people need and want.
(4) Rarely are modern Rolex watches collectible timepieces. Indeed, Rolex makes movements, watch cases, bracelets and clasps, of stellar quality and indeed the quality of Rolex watches is almost unmatched, but since Rolex is an economic and industrial giant, it means their watches are rarely collectible timepieces.
Usually, you have to come across vintage Rolex watches in order to find a truly collectible Rolex timepiece. The brand-new, fresh from the factory Rolex timepieces, are rarely if ever “collectible” timepieces. They maintain the best resale value on the market – true, but they aren’t “collectible” in the sense of being unusual – since they are very commonly seen across the world – due to Rolex’s enormous industrial and economic muscles.
(5) Due to Rolex’s economic and industrial muscles, this isn’t an unusual brand. It’s not unusual to see Rolex timepieces (the authentic ones of course) on the streets, across the world.
If you’re looking for a Swiss brand which is unusual, and has a relatively small volume of production, and is even more prestigious than Rolex, then just maybe you are looking for brands such as Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Jaeger LeCoultre, Blancpain or Breguet.
So if you’re looking for an unusual brand, I’m afraid Rolex isn’t the right choice. It really depends on what exactly you want and what exactly you expect from the particular brand that interests you.
Rolex is simply excellent and outstanding, and unmatched in performance and quality. In this respect, Rolex is certainly unique!
The manufacturer however, is not offbeat or rare , in terms of the sheer quantity of Rolex timepieces manufactured per year, and certainly not offbeat or rare, as far as the number of Rolex watches in circulation across the globe.
Now, let’s get into the technical details of GMT-Master II, Sea Dweller, Submariner and Yacht-Master/Yacht-Master II:
Rolex GMT-Master II:
Rolex GMT-Master II is a Rolex divers watch equipped with a GMT function. It’s Rolex’s and supposedly the world’s very first GMT watch. It’s water resistant down to 100 meters, and is equipped with a Rolex in-house automatic movement 3186, with 31 jewels, 28800 vph, and a 50 hour power reserve.
This watch is ideal if you want a combined divers- and GMT watch. However, being water resistant to “merely” 100 meters means Rolex GMT-Master II fulfills just the minimum water resistance requirements of divers watches.
However, this is a very elegant and versatile watch which can be used on a daily basis but it can also be used with a more formal attire, such as a suit or an evening dress. Rolex GMT-Master II is almost identical in appearance to the famous Rolex Submariner.
Rolex Sea Dweller:
Rolex Sea Dweller, is, if you ask me, probably the very best high end luxury divers watches you can find in the world. Not only because they use the Rolex in-house automatic movement 3135, with 31 jewels, 28800 vph, and a 50 hour power reserve, but because they indeed are serious divers watches/tool watches, and luxury watches, all in one.
Rolex Sea Dweller model nr. 116600, is water resistant down to 4000 feet/1220 meters. The bigger version, the Rolex Sea Dweller Deep Sea model nr. 116660, is water resistant down to 12,800 feet/3,900 meters.
Naturally you won’t go diving that deep, but these are serious luxury divers watches – they are robust, sturdy tool watches meant for daily use. They are also very elegant and sporty looking and they absolutely would go well with a suit or an evening dress.
Rolex Submariner is probably, alongside Rolex Datejust, the most famous Rolex watch in the world, and would probably be considered to be one of the 5 most famous luxury watches ever made – or at least among the top 10. This is my personal favorite (alongside Omega Planet Ocean, and Omega Seamaster Professional).
Rolex Submariner is Rolex’s very first divers watch, and was indeed the original luxury wristwatch of James Bond in the early Bond movies of the 1960s and the 1970s.
Water resistance is 1000 feet/300 meters, and the watch is very comfortable, and very versatile. This watch can be used in the board room, at the beach, under the sea, and at evening parties and festivities. The Rolex Submariner absolutely goes well with a suit and an evening dress.
Now, there are many variations of the Rolex Submariner, and these variations are merely aesthetical: most Rolex Submariners are made of Rolex’s 904L steel grade alloy, while some are made of white gold or yellow gold.
The main difference is between the Rolex Submariner (colloquially known as “Rolex Submariner No-Date”) and Rolex Submariner Date.
Rolex Submariner (The No-Date Version): The original Rolex Submariners of the 1950s and the 1960s had no date window and no magnifying lens covering the date window.
The original Submariners, and indeed the modern Rolex Submariners without the date, are simply being referred to as the Rolex Submariner. Watch enthusiasts prefer the Submariner without the date. The truth is – so do I.
The “no-date” version has the Rolex in-house automatic movement 3130, with 31 jewels, 28800 vph, and it has a 48 hour power reserve. Rolex Submariner (no-date version) is ironically less expensive but also less common than the Rolex Submariner Date.
Rolex Submariner Date: It’s the date version which is being referred to as the Rolex Submariner Date. This is ironically the more common Rolex Submariner, and also the more expensive one – due to the extra function added to the movement. It has the famous and legendary Rolex in-house automatic movement 3135, with 31 jewels, 28800 vph, and a 50 hour power reserve.
Rolex Yacht-Master & Rolex Yacht-Master II:
Rolex Yacht-Master is a combined sailors watch and divers watch. Rolex Yacht-Master is primarily meant for on-surface water activities rather than below-the-water activities. The water resistance is 100 meters.
This is a very unusual Rolex watch collection, since many of these watches (albeit not all of them) are 1) chronographs, and 2) are equipped with a GMT function, which makes these watches among the most “complicated” Rolex watches available on the market.
Rolex Yacht-Master uses three movements:
1) Rolex in-house automatic movement 2235, with 31 jewels, 28800 vph. 2) Rolex in-house automatic movement 3135, with 31 jewels, 28800 vph, (the same movement is used by Submariner Date and Sea Dweller), and 3) Rolex in-house automatic movement 4160, with 42 jewels, 28800 vph, and a 72 hour power reserve. This movement is used for Rolex Chronographs.
Just like the other Rolex collections, the Rolex Yacht-Master is a versatile divers-, sports-, tool-, and luxury watch all in one.
My ranking of Rolex: 6th.
It’s debatable how you actually rank a brand, and a ranking is never objective, but the best way to turn a subjective ranking into an “objective” one is to rely on certain criteria. My ranking criteria of course are entirely subjective, and they aren’t set in stone.
I use 14 criteria in determining the ranking of a particular brand, such as (1) a long and respected history, (2) limited supply and large demand, (3) reputation/status/prestige, (4) whether the brand is independent or not, (5) pioneering spirit and innovations, (6) impact on watchmaking history and modern culture, (7) general in-house production, (8) whether the brand relies on in-house made movements or not, (9) whether or not the brand makes movement complications, (10) steel grade, (11) build quality, (12) price range, (13) good resale value, and (14) market presence.
Prices for Rolex Watches
- Rolex GMT-Master II can be found in the $7,000-$35,000 price range. Most of them can be found in the $7,000-$10,000 price range.
- Rolex Sea Dweller can be found in the $7,000-$10,000 price range.
- Rolex Submariner can be found in the $7,000-$30,000 price range. Most of them can be found in the $7,000-$10,000 price range.
- Rolex Yacht-Master can be found in the $9,000-$30,000 price range.
- Rolex Yacht-Master II can be found in the $20,000-$40,000 price range.