The short answer is yes and here are 20 reasons why.
When used in relation to Rolex, the word “perpetual” is normally associated with the brand’s automatic movements. But for the company, it represents an entire ethos. Its “perpetual spirit” is an enduring commitment to continuous improvement and always pushing the boundaries. It’s this guiding principle that builds watches that last; one that also leads to technological innovations that advance watchmaking as a whole by taking the long-term view. By owning a Rolex, you’re aligning yourself with the values of lasting excellence and unlimited human potential.
From left: A 1908 Rolex Original Certificate; a First Precision Certificate from 1910
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Hans Wilsdorf was a visionary entrepreneur and a man of profound idealism whose stream of inventions, such as the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, changed history. In striving for perfection, Wilsdorf created one of the world’s most respected watch brands in the space of a few decades, as well as iconic models such as the Datejust, Submariner, GMT-Master, Day-Date, Milgauss, and many more. Rolex’s philanthropic commitments are also part of Wilsdorf’s legacy, as the founder established the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation in 1945 to provide support to charitable and social causes in Geneva.
A photograph of Hans Wilsdorf, around 1942.
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Given what mechanical watches are capable of doing these days, it’s easy to forget the one innovation that contributed most significantly to daily wearability: Waterproofness. In 1926, Rolex became the first watchmaker to unveil a truly waterproof (and dustproof) watch, achieved by screwing down the bezel, case back and winding crown against the middle case to ensure that the case was hermetically sealed. The timepiece was aptly named “Oyster”. The following year, Mercedes Gleitze famously swam across the English Channel wearing a Rolex Oyster and its movement remained dry even after 10 hours in icy water. These days, Rolex watches in the Oyster collection are guaranteed waterproof to a depth of at least 100 metres.
A 1926 cushion-shaped Rolex Oyster.
Rolex didn’t achieve its impressive cachet just by looking good. It gained its dedicated following by devoting resources to innovation and, led by its quest for excellence, perfecting the perfect watch. And Rolex has over 500 patents to prove it. From inventing the iconic Cyclops lens that make reading the date easier, to being one of the only watchmakers capable of making its own hairsprings (the anti-magnetic, highly precise blue Parachrom hairspring), innovation is a part of the Rolex DNA. Every essential component—dial, case, material, movement, bracelet—is designed and produced in-house to reinforce its quality requirements to deliver only the best.
Rolex must continuously strive to think and act differently from the rest. Therein lies my greatest strength. – Hans Wilsdorf
Clockwise from left: Oyster Perpetual 34 with a bright black dial and an Oyster bracelet. A blue Parachrom hairspring. The Cyclops Lens
Dial creation is a true métier d’art and watchmaking companies that, like Rolex, master in-house all the aspects of dial creation—from design to production—are a rare breed. Rolex dials shine with spirit and vitality that catch the light at every turn, be it through the unique patterns of materials such as mother-of-pearl and meteorite, or the vibrant motifs like palm leaves and geometric shapes that adorn its surface. The appliqués on a dial, too, are features that give depth to the watch’s personality. In watches that feature Roman numerals, for example, “IIII” is used instead of “IV” to mark the numeral “4”, just as sundial makers once did during the Roman Empire.
Putting the appliqués on the dial of a Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36.
Rolex’s history is graced with gem-set watches that offer an alternative and complementary aesthetic. The process begins with the sourcing for impeccable stones (only the highest quality gemstones are used based on purity, clarity and intensity), before it is decided how best to showcase them for maximum sparkle and beauty. Working in harmony, the gemmologist selects the stones before the gem-setter sets them one by one onto the dial, bezel, case or bracelet in a manner that reveals each diamond’s full radiance.
Designers and gem-setters work closely together in the subtle exercise of finding a balance between aesthetic and technical requirements.
Setting diamonds onto the dial of the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 (right).
Meticulous care and attention have been given to the design of Rolex bracelets and clasps—which are not only highly functional, but also the embodiment of Rolex’s aesthetic codes. Manufactured with rounded edges, polished or satin-finished surfaces, safety clasps or concealed clasps, and intuitive systems that allow for the adjustment of the bracelet length for the perfect fit, Rolex bracelets are distinctive and instantaneously identifiable for their unique forms, aesthetic codes and style.
The Oyster bracelet with Oysterlock.
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Committed to using only the finest of precious metals in its luxury timepieces, Rolex set up its own state-of-the- art foundry in the early 2000s to cast its gold. In doing so, it was able to control every manufacturing detail of its metals to ensure that only the highest quality gold alloys make their way into its watches.
Melting gold at Rolex’s in-house foundry.
A Rolex watch calls for perfection and beauty even in the harshest environments. That is why Rolex uses Oystersteel, a steel alloy that belongs to the 904L steel family and is specific to the brand. It’s particularly resistant to corrosion and acquires an exceptional sheen when polished.
An Oyster middle case in Oystersteel.
The Cerachrom bezel was developed and patented by Rolex for specific Professional models to ensure lasting beauty and functionality even after being exposed to the most extreme conditions. Fashioned from extremely hard ceramic material, Cerachrom is virtually impervious to scratches and its colour is unaffected by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. In 2013, Rolex introduced a two-colour Cerachrom bezel insert on the Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II, making it the world’s first single-piece ceramic with two colours.
The two-colour Cerachrom bezel inserts of the Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II.
In a demonstration of the efficiency of its development and production process, Rolex introduced the Superlative Chronometer certification in 2015 as a testament of the series of stringent checks that each watch has to undergo before it leaves the manufacture floor. Symbolised with a green seal, this high-technology control chain that’s exclusive to the brand guarantees the precision of the watch to within -2/+2 seconds per day—a standard that is considerably more exacting than the requirement set by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) of -4/+6 seconds per day. The certification also ensures that the watch’s power reserve and waterproofness match the stated hours and depth, and the self-winding module functions accurately.
The green seal accompanying every Rolex watch is a symbol of its status as a Superlative Chronometer.
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Rolex has built its reputation as much on trust as it has excellence, with each Rolex watch promising access to the brand’s established network of watchmaking workshops around the world. Tasked with ensuring that all Rolex watches receive the best possible servicing to preserve their excellent technical performance and pristine appearance, the workshops offer servicing operations that range from a full service (which involves the complete overhaul of the watch movement, case and bracelet) to specific operations such as the adjustment of a bracelet’s length or the refinishing of a case.
The assessment of a watch.
Designed and built to last, there is no limit to how long a Rolex watch can keep working—especially when the brand’s Restoration Atelier in Geneva is staffed with Master Watchmakers who combine in-depth historical research with traditional methods and state-of-the-art techniques to restore exceptional historic watches to their former glory. Components that no longer meet Rolex’s quality criteria can be restored or perfectly recreated using techniques of the period. The restored watch is then returned to its owner in a special presentation box, accompanied by a personalised booklet.
The Master Watchmakers at the Restoration Atelier in Geneva handle old and rare components.
For nearly a century, Rolex has been an active supporter of pioneering explorers who have ventured to the most extreme places on earth to shed light on the natural world. From accompanying Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, to James Cameron’s 10,908 metres exploration of the Mariana Trench aboard the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible in 2012 (the Rolex Deepsea Challenge watch was attached to an external robotic manipulator arm), Rolex watches have proved to be the perfect timekeeping tool even in the most extreme conditions. In turn, these groundbreaking expeditions have served as the perfect living laboratory for the brand to test and develop its timepieces.
A trusted instrument of discovery, the Rolex Chronometer has, for nearly a century, accompanied explorers and adventurers into the planet’s wildest, most challenging realms.
From top: Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbing Mount Everest in 1953. Rolex’s Deep Sea Under the Pole expedition in 2010.
As the 21st century unfolds, the company has shifted its focus from championing exploration for the sake of discovery to protecting the planet. It reinforced this latter commitment by launching the Perpetual Planet initiative in 2019. For now, the initiative embraces an enhanced partnership with the National Geographic Society to study the impacts of climate change, marine biologist Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue to preserve the oceans through a network of marine-protected “Hope Spots”, and the Rolex Awards for Enterprise that supports exceptional individuals with innovative projects that focus on the environment and the betterment of mankind.
From top: National Geographic Society explorer and climate scientist Baker Perry. Leading oceanographer and Rolex Testimonee Sylvia Earle.
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise was set up in 1976 in support of exceptional individuals with projects that expand our knowledge of the world, protect the environment and improve human well-being. It has since supported 155 Laureates whose endeavours have made a significant global contribution to this end. Among this year’s Laureates are a social entrepreneur who equips flour mills with a “dosifier” machine that adds critical micronutrients to fortify staple foods, so as to save the lives of the malnourished in Tanzania, and a climate researcher who is about to embark on a world-first expedition to the planet’s northernmost caves to improve our knowledge of climate change in the Arctic. The tangible benefits of the Laureates’ projects are even more varied. Since its introduction, 21 million trees have been planted; 34 endangered species and 27 major ecosystems protected, including 57,600 sqkm of the Amazon rainforest; hundreds of new species have been discovered; 17 challenging expeditions have been completed; and 48 innovative technologies have been developed for a range of applications.
From left: 2021 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Laureate Felix Brooks-church and his ‘dosifier’ machine. 2021 Rolex Awards for Enterprise Laureate Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim uses indigenous peoples’ knowledge to map natural resources and prevent prevent climate conflicts in the Sahel
Established in 2002 to assist in the transfer of knowledge from one generation of artists to the next, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative was launched to pair gifted young artists from around the world with mentors in dance, film, literature, music, theatre, visual arts, architecture and an open category covering interdisciplinary pursuits. The protégés are given the rare opportunity to spend significant periods of time in an invigorating one-to-one creative exchange with recognised masters in their particular field. Past mentors who have given their time and shared their vast talent include Spike Lee, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Anish Kapoor.
Visual arts mentor Carrie Mae Weems (left) with protégé Camila Rodríguez Triana
Rolex watches have appeared in many memorable films for close to a century. This close relationship between Rolex and the film industry was formalised in 2017 when the brand signed a partnership agreement with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Ampas) to become the Academy’s Exclusive Watch and a Proud Sponsor of the Oscars® ceremony, for which it also designs and hosts the Greenroom, an elegant space where presenters and guests mingle before going on stage. Rolex is also proud to be the Founding Sponsor of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures which recently opened in Los Angeles.
Whether crafting a groundbreaking timepiece or an award-winning film, the goal for a watchmaker like Rolex and great filmmakers is to forge an unforgettable work that stands the test of time.
Clockwise from above right: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Filmmaker and Rolex Testimonee James Cameron. The Greenroom at the 2021 Oscars®
Rolex is a pioneer in sponsorship, having supported excellence since the brand’s foundation in the early 20th century. Today, Rolex is present at the most prestigious events in golf, sailing, tennis and motor sport, and at equestrian tournaments. Such associations with select events and exceptional athletes reflect the brand’s passion for perfection and its quest to push boundaries further.
Clockwise from top: Wimbledon stadium. Rolex Testimonee Roger Federer at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships. Rolex Testimonee Jon Rahm’s win at this year’s US Open
The history of Rolex Testimonees is a story of the perpetual pursuit of excellence, which underpins every aspect of the brand’s interests. It all started when Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf invited Mercedes Gleitze to wear a Rolex Oyster during her crossing of the English Channel, thus making her the first Rolex Testimonee. Since then, Rolex has made it a point of pride to create meaningful partnerships with individuals who share the same values, while giving long-term support to those who seek to push the boundaries of their chosen field across tennis, golf, motor sport, equestrianism, yachting, film, arts and culture, and exploration. The resulting relationships are built on strong principles, a shared vision and mutual respect. Rolex Testimonees include tennis player Roger Federer, golfer Tiger Woods and filmmaker James Cameron, among many others.
From left: Eighteen Grand Slam® singles titles winner and Rolex Testimonee, Chris Evert. One of the greatest golfers of all time and Rolex Testimonee, Tiger Woods
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