b y C A R O L B E S L E R
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE THE WORLD’S MOST RELIABLE
A HISTORY OF ROLEX ADVENTURE WATCHES AND THE MATERIALS THAT MAKE THEM GREAT
Rolex is the original action watch and has long been associated with adventure. Rolex watches have survived the most extreme conditions, from the highest summits to the deepest recesses of the ocean. Climb Mount Everest? Check. Submerge into the depths of the Mariana Trench? Check. The world of Rolex is a world that calls for robust watches — even fictional worlds have touted the watch — the original James Bond timepiece was a Rolex. Since it was founded in 1905, the company has filed over 500 patents. It is credited with inventing the world’s first waterproof self- winding wristwatch and the world’s first self-winding mechanism with a perpetual rotor. First came the water resistance. The Oyster Perpetual collection, with hermetically sealed cases, was built on the success of the original Oyster model, patented by Rolex and launched in 1926. As the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, it played a pioneering role in the development of the modern timepiece. In 1927, it was worn by British swimmer Mercedes Gleitze during her historic swim across the English Channel. The swim lasted over 10 hours, and the watch remained in perfect working order. In 1931, Rolex invented and patented the world’s first self-winding mechanism with a Perpetual rotor, which is today at the heart of every modern automatic watch. The first expedition to fly over Everest, in 1933, was equipped with Rolex Oysters, and 20 years later, Sir John Hunt’s expedition, in which Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, was equipped with Oyster Perpetuals. In 1960, the experimental bathyscaphe, the Trieste, successfully descended into the Mariana Trench, the deepest known depression on the Earth’s surface. Emerging from 10,916 meters (37,800 feet), the bathyscaphe was in perfect working order — as was the Rolex Deep Sea Special experimental watch that had been attached to the outside during the historic dive.
Submariner Date 40 mm, in Oystersteel.
14 ] R I C H T E R & P H I L L I P S J E W E L E R S M A G A Z I N E
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