A Rolex Kind of Day
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A Rolex Kind of Day

- By Keith Lehman (PA) 11/22/16

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Inside title page of Hans Wilsdorf's Rolex Jubilee Handbook 1946 vade mecum. KEITH LEHMAN.

Yesterday, I read a great cover story in Revolution about the Rolex Oyster, and today Hodinkee posted a story about two of the most expensive Daytonas in the world. I realized after reading these articles that I have not discussed Rolex much here. There are a few reasons for that.

One reason is that there is so much to talk about. The company, founded by the German-born visionary Hans Wilsdorf in the early 1900s, pioneered the cultural shift from pocket watches to wristwatches. The first major example of this vision was the technical and commercial coup of the Rolex Oyster. The waterproof and dustproof watch that Mercedes Gleitze wore when she crossed the English Channel in 1927 was a defining moment for the company, but it also was controversial.

This controversy is another reason for not discussing Rolex more on WatchNews. Who invented the self-winding watch? Up until 1956 Rolex made this claim, but finally the company admitted in an ad that John Harwood was the actual inventor of the technology. What about the screwed-down crown? Yet another rabbit hole of truths and half-truths. With some reflection Herr Wilsdorf seems part Steve Jobs-part P.T. Barnum in the watchmaking world.

Another reason for not writing about Rolex is the highly guarded and gated community that surrounds the brand. The last thing I want to do is write something that is incorrect or appear uninformed. Rolex enthusiasts and collectors are largely kind and patient people, but there is a lot of pride in ownership and knowledge of lore. Rolexforums.com is a well respected forum to learn about the brand, but even some of our most veteran NAWCC members are careful to post there for my same reasons.

Rolex is undeniably an incredible and highly recognized company. This is the last reason for why not discussing the brand. Rolex talks a lot about itself and the media talks a lot about it too. The marketing genius behind the early days of Rolex hasn’t changed. From the Rolex Daytona to the Deepsea Challenge, Rolex is behind some of the outstanding marketing events of our time.

Now that the reasons for not discussing Rolex on WatchNews have been stated, look for future posts (albeit not too frequent) about this brand, which has become synonymous with quality, fame & innovation.

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