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The history of Rolex is forever linked to the visionary spirit of Hans Wilsdorf, its founder. In 1905, at only 24 years of age, Mr. Wilsdorf founded Rolex in London specializing in the distribution of reliable timepieces. He began envision a watch worn on the wrist. Wristwatches were not very precise at the time, but Hans Wilsdorf foresaw that they could become not only elegant, but also reliable. His relentless quest for perfection rapidly led to success.
By 1910, a Rolex watch was the first wristwatch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, granted by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne. In 920, Rolex moved to Geneva, a city renowned the world over for watchmaking. In 1926, Rolex created the first waterproof wristwatch aptly named the “Oyster”. In 1927 a Rolex Oyster crossed the English Channel, worn by a young swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze. The swim lasted over 10 hours and the watch remained in perfect working order the entire time. In the 1930s, Rolex and one of the fastest drivers in the world, Sir Malcolm Campbell, became united by the quest for speed. On 4 September 1935, at the wheel of Bluebird – and wearing a Rolex watch – this Campbell set a land speed record of over 300 miles per hour (approximately 485 km/h) at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Sir Malcolm broke the world speed record nine times between 1924 and 1935, including five times at Daytona Beach in Florida. The year 1945 saw the birth of the Datejust, the first self‑winding wrist chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial. In the early 1950s, Rolex developed professional watches that served as tools and whose functions went far beyond simply telling the time. The Oyster Perpetual Explorer, was launched in 1953 to celebrate the victorious ascent of Everest, immediately acquired iconic status. In 1953, the Submariner became the first divers’ watch waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). Its rotatable bezel allows divers to read their immersion time.
In 1955 the GMT-Master was developed to meet the specific needs of airline pilots. It became the official watch of several airlines, among them the famous Pan American World Airlines. Launched in 1963 as a new-generation chronograph, the Cosmograph soon gained the name that became the mark of an icon: Daytona. Designed as the ultimate tool for endurance racing drivers, the Cosmograph Daytona was robust, waterproof and featured a tachymetric scale on the bezel for calculating average speed. The prestigious watch manufacturer later would introduce many other iconic and innovative models including the Milgauss, Sea-Dweller, Explorer ll, the Deep-Sea and the Sky-Dweller.