Founded by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis in London in 1905 as Wilsdorf and Davis, Rolex then moved its base of operations to Geneva, in 1919.
Rolex is known for its innovations, including the first certified chronometer, the first self-winding wristwatch and the first effective waterproof and dust-proof watch casing.
More than any other watch, Rolex retains high resale value. Compared to most other luxury watch brands, Rolex produces the widest variety of watches and collections. Some of Rolex’s most desirable models include the Oyster Perpetual Datejust, Day-date, Explorer, GMT Master and Yachtmaster.
However, there are two watches that deserve further recognition: the iconic Cosmograph Daytona and the Submariner. Despite Rolex producing styles in both gold and platinum, its most desirable models continue to be its steel sports watches, especially if they are vintage and rare.
The Oyster Perpetual, the direct descendent of the original Oyster which was launched in 1926. It was the first waterproof wrist watch in the world and the foundation on which Rolex has built its reputation.
OYSTER PERPETUAL AIR-KING
The Oyster Perpetual Air-King is one of the simplest and most practical Rolex watches compared to other styles and it is loved by its followers because of its simplicity. Originating from the 1930’s, it epitomises Rolex’s privileged ties with the world of aviation when the Rolex Air-King was one of a series of watches presented by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf to the RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain to honour their efforts.
OYSTER PERPETUAL COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA
The Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, named after the Daytona Beach racetrack, is the benchmark for those with a passion for driving and speed. An iconic model created in 1963, worn by the Hollywood legend and racing enthusiast Paul Newman, the Cosmograph Daytona was designed to meet the timing needs of sports car drivers and racers. Rolex had made chronographs beforehand but in limited volumes. The 1963 model included a metal bezel, marked with a tachymeter scale which measured average speed.
The early models featured Valjoux movements but were later replaced by the Zenith El-Primero movement in 1988. By 2000, Rolex decided to introduce a third series of Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona using its own in-house Rolex movement, the latest of which is the Cailbre 4130.
In 2013, Rolex celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Cosmograph Daytona by releasing the most luxurious version ever produced, in solid platinum featuring a unique dial in a shade of ice blue reserved only for the Rolex’s platinum models.
At Baselworld 2016, Rolex unveiled its latest Cosmograph Daytona featuring a new Cerachrom bezel in black ceramic, with an updated tachymeter design, shedding the older engraved metal bezel.
OYSTER PERPETUAL DATEJUST
The Oyster Perpetual Datejust, introduced in 1945, was the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch to display the date in a window at 3 o’clock. It was also the first watch to change the displayed date at exactly midnight.
The Oyster Perpetual Datejust is the watch of reference for those who believe that elegance is timeless.
OYSTER PERPETUAL DAY-DATE
The Oyster Perpetual Day-Date is the most prestigious & exclusive watch in the Oyster collection and available only in precious metals. Unveiled in 1956, the Day-Date was the first calendar wristwatch to indicate the day of the week spelt out in full in a window on the dial.
OYSTER PERPETUAL DEEPSEA
The Oyster Perpetual Deepsea, introduced at Baselworld in 2008 exceeds the most rigorous demands of professional divers with water resistance up to 3,900 metres (12,800 feet).
The Deepsea, with a diameter of 44mm and a thickness of 17.7mm, has a chromalight display that gives the hour markers and hands a blue glow that lasts up to 8 hours. In 2012, film maker James Cameron became the first ever solo diver to reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the ocean. James Cameron wore the Deepsea on his historic excursion.
OYSTER PERPETUAL EXPLORER
Introduced in 1953, specifically to answer the call from daring climbers willing to take on the challenge of climbing Mount Everest. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay were the first to reach Everest’s 8,848 metre summit. The Oyster Perpetual Explorer was launched in the wake of this successful ascent and epitomises the spirit of adventure and the perseverance that lies behind every exploit.
OYSTER PERPETUAL EXPLORER II
The Oyster Perpetual Explorer II was originally released in 1971 and revised in 2011 with a larger 42mm case and new movement. The Explorer II features a dial with a 24-hour display by means of an additional hand and an engraved fixed bezel. The watch of choice for explorers, allowing accuracy in conditions where it is difficult to distinguish between day and night.
OYSTER PERPETUAL GMT-MASTER
The Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master was originally launched in 1954 designed specifically to allow airline pilots to read the time in two different time zones. Developed as a collaboration between Rolex and Pan Am Airways, the airline issued the watch to their long haul flight crews.
The GMT Master has evolved over the years. The current version was introduced in 2007 with updates on the movement and its features.
OYSTER PERPETUAL LADY-DATEJUST
The Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust, launched in 1945, is Rolex’s classic feminine watch, available in a 26 or 28mm case and is one of the most varied lines in the Oyster collection.
The Milgauss, introduced in 1956, was created for those working in research labs, power plants and medical facilities where electromagnetic fields are known to disrupt the performance of standard timepieces. The Milgauss features a magnetic shield patented by Rolex, to protect the movement from interference up to 1,000 gauss.
The unique styling of the Milgauss includes a green sapphire crystal and a signature lightening bolt second hand.
THE OYSTER PERPETUAL PEARLMASTER
The Oyster Perpetual Pearlmaster first launched in 1992, is synonymous with elegance and finesse. The latest Rolex Pearlmaster is available only in 18ct white, yellow or everose gold, featuring diamonds in most models.
OYSTER PERPETUAL SEA-DWELLER
A giant among divers’ watches, originally created in 1967, the Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller was originally waterproof to 2,000 feet. In 1978, this increased to 4,000 feet. One of the principal features of Sea Dwellers is the helium escape valve, designed for protection during saturation diving. It allows the helium to exit the watch during decompression.
OYSTER PERPETUAL SKY-DWELLER
Launched in 2012, the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller is an elegant watch ideal for world travellers. The attribute that sets the Sky-Dweller apart from all previous Rolex models is its inclusion of both an annual calendar and dual timezones. Wearers only have to adjust the date once every four years, to account for leap year.
OYSTER PERPETUAL SUBMARINER
The Oyster Perpetual Submariner, the ultimate divers watch, launched in 1953, was the first watch to be waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). The Submariner, designed by Rolex specifically for divers is known for its resistance to water and corrosion. Current Rolex Submariner models now have a waterproof depth of 300 metres (984 feet) and are available in both date and non-date versions in stainless steel.
The Rolex Submariner has appeared in a number of James Bond movies. Sean Connery wore a ref: 6538 in his first four movies. In Dr No & From Russia with Love, the watch was worn with a leather strap, while in Goldfinger and Thunderball, the strap had been swapped for a Nato band. George Lazenby wore a ref: 5513 with an Oyster bracelet in On your Majesty’s Secret Service, as did Roger Moore in Live and Let Die & The Man with the Golden gun.
OYSTER PERPETUAL YACHTMASTER
The Oyster Perpetual Yachtmaster, was first introduced in 1992 in 18 carat gold. In 1994, Rolex released a ladies model and a mid-size man’s model, which was the first time Rolex had ever designed a smaller professional size sports watch.
In 1997, the Rolex Yachtmaster was released in Rolesium: the bezel and dial were made in platinum whilst the case, crown and bracelet were made of stainless steel. In the Year 2000, a re-vamped version became available in solid 18 carat yellow gold. The most recent Yachtmaster models have now been introduced in 2 sizes – 37mm and 40mm. The everose gold models feature Rolex’s new Oysterflex rubber bracelet.
OYSTER PERPETUAL YACHTMASTER II
The Oyster Perpetual Yachtmaster II was first introduced in yellow gold and white gold versions. In 2011, Rolex unveiled a steel and everose gold version and in 2013, the Yachtmaster II was available for the first time in 904L stainless steel, fitted with Cerachrom bezel insert in blue ceramic.
All Rolex Yachtmaster II models have a case size of 44mm.