When thinking about luxury watches and timepieces, there’s always one name that is top of mind: Rolex. Whether you’re an avid luxury watch collector or someone who appreciates them from afar, you are undoubtedly familiar with the name and impeccable reputation of the Rolex Watch Company.

Since its founding in 1902, Rolex has expanded its reach throughout the world to become the number one luxury watch brand. What once began as a simple watchmaking workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, has since become a world-renowned brand with international reach and unmatched potential.

Interested in learning more about different Rolex models and how this international luxury watch powerhouse has changed the industry? Keep reading to discover more about this brand and key moments throughout history that have cemented its place as one of the leading luxury watch brands.

The Early Years of Rolex

The origins of Rolex as we know and love it today can be traced back to 1902 in Switzerland. This year marked the joining of Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis to form the Wilsdorf and Davis watchmaking house. This duo soon expanded their reach and popularity, officially trademarking the name ‘Rolex’ in 1908.

Following the introduction of the Rolex brand to the world, the company began making its mark on the watchmaking industry. In 1910, one of its coveted wristwatches became the first to be awarded an independently ratified certificate of chronometric performance. This award indicates that the wristwatch is a superlative and accurate timekeeper. Following this amazing achievement, the Rolex company continued to accrue further awards for their expert craftsmanship and superior design.

The Introduction of the Oyster Case

Rolex continued to introduce game-changing designs and innovative technologies to the market as the years went by, introducing the world to the amazing Oyster Case in 1926. Touted as the world’s first waterproof watch, this timepiece was the first fully-sealed design brought into the market. Rolex took these claims up a notch by drafting English channel swimmer Mercedes Gleitze to wear this timepiece during an attempted channel crossing. While she didn’t make it this time around, the watch proved to accurately track time throughout and effectively kept any water out.

The Expansion of the Oyster Case

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

After the resounding success of the Oyster Case, Rolex again changed the name of the game in the world of luxury watches by introducing the first self-winding wristwatch in 1931. Known as the Oyster Perpetual Watch, this timepiece effectively tracked time without needing to be wound manually.

The Prolific Datejust Model

While the Oyster Watch truly changed the world of luxury watches, the introduction of the Rolex Datejust Watch 1940s offered a new perspective on designer timepieces. This innovative model was the first watch on the market that had the date jump instantaneously at midnight rather than being required to be reset manually. Thus, the origin of this luxury watch’s name: ‘date’ and ‘adjust.’

The Release of New Models

Rolex Submariner

Following the rise in popularity of Rolex watches that came with the introduction of their core models, the luxury watch house began expanding its reach throughout the market by introducing a variety of new Rolex watch models.

The Rolex Submariner, one of the most popular Rolex models to date, was introduced to the world in 1953. This game-changing model was the first to be water-resistant for dives up to 100m and came fitted with a 60-minute timing bezel to allow divers to track how long they have spent underwater.

After the Submariner, the brand introduced a new model to the market in 1955, the Rolex GMT Master. This innovative timepiece was the first to use the date magnifying bubble, known by Rolex connoisseurs as the ‘cyclops.’ In addition, it introduced the idea of a dual time-zone compilation, allowing wearers to track the time in multiple time-zones at once.

With the success of the GMT Master came the subsequent introduction of the Rolex Day-Date and Rolex Milgauss models in 1956. These best-selling designs were soon followed by the introduction of the Rolex Lady Datejust in 1957, one of the very first Rolex watch models that catered specifically to the feminine market.

The year 1960 brought about the introduction of the first Rolex Deep Sea model, which made its name by descending to the bottom of the Mariana Trench aboard the Trieste, a record-setting submarine famous for its dangerously deep dives.

Rolex continued to make strides in changing the luxury watch industry with the introduction of the Rolex Daytona model in 1963. This innovative timepiece was the first to market that was designed with an automotive-specific chronograph.

The Recent Years of Rolex Innovations

Rolex GMT-Master II “Coke”

While the Rolex archives are extensive and impressive, this luxury watch brand has continued to make game-changing advancements and introduce amazing new timepieces decade after decade. One of their more recent successes was the Rolex Yacht-Master model, a luxury watch with water-resistance that was designed to serve those sailing the seas. This success continued throughout the last 30 years with the introduction of the Rolex Yacht-Master II in 2007, the Rolex DeepSea in 2008 and the Rolex Skydweller in 2023.

With so much success over the past 120 years in introducing new innovations and game-changing designs to the world of luxury watches, it is exciting to consider where Rolex will take us next. Only time will tell.

Pre-owned and used Rolex watches are a wonderful investment for the present and for the future, but only if you are purchasing from and using the repair services of a reputable source. At Gray & Sons, we began as a brick and mortar shop in 1980 before rapidly expanding digitally through our website, internet platforms and world class print and digital catalog. We have worked to build our stellar reputation in both the international industry and the local industry in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beaches, Florida, Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, Bal Harbour, Coral Gables, Aventura, Sunny Isles, and more. Since our inception, Gray & Sons has been awarded an A+ with the Better Business Bureau, achieved good standing with the International Watch & Jewelry Guild, and has become a world leader in used certified pre-owned luxury watches and estate jewelry. If you’re looking for a trustworthy, reputable, and professional source for purchasing pre-owned jewelry, sourcing luxury watches, or servicing your treasured pieces, look no further than Gray & Sons.