Rolex S.A. is a luxury watch manufacturer based in Geneva, Switzerland. Originally founded as Wilsdorf and Davis by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis in London, England in 1905, the company registered Rolex as the brand name of its watches in 1908. In 1920 the company's name was officially changed to Montres Rolex S.A. and later to Rolex S.A.
Wilsdorf's desire for originality and quality led him to develop a small calibre in cooperation with the firm of Aegler in Bienne, Switzerland that revolutionized the wristwatches and brought him to the forefront of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Wilsdorf believes that the three vital components to a good watch are precision, waterproofness, and automatic winding. Three components he tackled one by one as he grew the Rolex brand.
First was precision, which he achieved through stringent quality control, making sure each timepiece was submitted to tests carried out by impartial institutes and making sure that no Rolex chronometer will be sold without its Official Timing Certificate. The brand received its first chronometer bulletin in 1910 from the school of Horology at Bienne, after introducing, the world's first wrist chronometer. The company also received a Class A precision certificate, a distinction normally granted exclusively to the marine chronometer, from the King's Observatory (formerly Kew Observatory) in 1914.
The second component was waterproofness, which stemmed from the recognition that precision movements needed maximum protection against the elements to maintain their accuracy. To solved this predicament, Rolex developed and introduced the Rolex "Oyster" in 1926, with the winding crown screwed down the case using a twin lock system. The case was hermetically sealed providing optimal protection against water or dust and will be the hallmark for all Rolex watch cases thereafter.
The third and last component was automatic winding, which led to the development of a self-winding mechanism called a Perpetual rotor in 1931 - a semi-circular plate that relies on gravity to move freely. Patented and called the Rolex Perpetual, it became the first wristwatch to use a 360° winding rotor and would become the basis of all future automatic watches throughout the industry.
With more than a century in the industry, Rolex prides itself on precision, accuracy, and durability standing on its founder's belief that quality and pride in manufacturing were imperative. To this date, the company continues to produced millions of certified chronometers and wristwatches to the same exacting standards it was founded on.