Founded in 1905 as Wilsdorf and Davis, Rolex has become a byword for luxury and one of the world's most recognisable brands. Its classic watches are highly-prized by collectors and it currently produces more than 2000 watches a day.
Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law, Alfred Davis, founded Wilsdorf and Davis and initially focused on placing imported Swiss movements into fine watch casings. They then sold these to jewellers who put their own names on the case.
In 1908 Rolex was born and it immediately made its mark as a manufacturer of quality timepieces, receiving Kew Observatory's Class A precision certificate, which was normally awarded to marine chronometers.
Rolex did not simply forge a reputation for being expensive, it introduced a number of different technical innovations. These include the first waterproof wristwatch, the first watch that automatically changed its date, the first to show two time zones at once and more.
Its popular Submariner range is designed for divers and the Oyster Perpetual Sea Dweller even has a helium release valve to ensure that it can release gas during decompression. Rolexes are also famously accurate, despite an immense number of 'complications'. When James Cameron took a robot to the deepest ocean trench on Earth, the robot wore a Rolex Sea Dweller on its arm.
But the legend goes well beyond simple quality, Rolex is a lifestyle brand that has been adopted by the rich and the famous. Sponsorship of the ATP Tennis Masters, the 24 Hour motor race in Daytona and the Formula One World Championship helped its cause. Endless sporting greats and celebrities have endorsed the brand, including Elvis Presley, Martin Luther King, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Jackie Stewart, Roger Federer and Sophia Loren.