Like most people, when you hear the name brand Rolex, you think of outstanding quality with an equally exceptional price tag attached. That’s because for more than 100 years, Rolex has established itself as one of the world’s finest makers of watches and other timepieces.
Despite its high stature and global brand recognition, there’s a lot that you and others never knew about the world’s most renowned maker of men’s and women’s timepieces. Here are five astounding facts you never knew about Rolex watches.
- POWs Made Rolex Popular
During World War II, English flyers who were shot down and kept in German Prisoner of War (POW) camps could receive free Rolex timepieces to replace the service watches typically stolen by their captors. When U.S. flyers heard Rolex supported English flyers, they also sought Rolex watches, which became a highly desired watch among aviators after the war ended.
- Rolex Began in London
Likely the most well-known brand based in Switzerland, Rolex actually got its start in 1905 in London. Hans Wilsdorf of Bavaria and his brother-in-law, Alfred Davis, started buying Swiss movements to place in watches sold in London. Eventually, the two men opened shop in Switzerland in 1919, where the world’s best watchmakers still are located.
- Still Made by Hand
At a time when computer-aided production has created exceptionally narrow manufacturing tolerances and reduced costs, Rolex continues making every single watch by hand. The only machines used are for sorting parts and similar tasks, while human hands handle all production and assembly tasks.
- Special Steel Construction
Rolex uses a higher quality stainless steel than other watch manufacturers, which the company says helps to deter pitting and corrosion. The 904L stainless steel Rolex uses higher concentrations of chromium and nickel, which makes the steel harder and hold a polish much better.
- Survived Extreme Ocean Depths
Divers the world over have used Rolex timepieces during their deep dives. But the members of the U.S. Navy in 1960 attached a Rolex to the exterior of a deep-diving sub, which went down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The watch came back unscathed and without losing a second, despite extreme pressures.
Whether you own a Rolex or are a casual fan of the brand, Rolex has a unique history. It also continues as the world’s top maker of watches, which often appreciate in value.