Anyone who is familiar with the Rolex brand will know that, as a luxury brand and producer of fine timepieces, Rolex constantly and consistently blends timeless style with unrivalled functionality – producing a series of individual collections and models that tap into specific sports and facilitate professional athletes in monitoring their performance across different activities.
To look at the history of Rolex, you have to understand that this is a brand that was built to innovate the market, starting with the release of the Submariner in 1953 as a diving watch that was completely waterproof, before moving to the Rolex Daytona for motorsport racing, the Yacht-Master models for professional sailing, and the Sky-Dweller for pilots. All of these different collections are inspired by and designed to facilitate different activities. They combine the ability to tell the time to finite accuracy with additional features and functions, including measuring speed, navigating, and more.
But how did Rolex move into the sports and exploration timepiece market – and how did the luxury red-carpet brand become such a go-to for professional athletes?
A Guide to Rolex’s Sports Watch Collection
Some of the most iconic and famous Rolex watches come from the professional sports collection, and combine the timeless aesthetic of a classic Rolex with the unrivalled functional features and details of a sports accessory.
The Submariner made history in 1953 as the first timepiece that was fully waterproof to a depth of 100m, and is now considered to be one of the most iconic watches of all time, despite having been surpassed by a multitude of watches since. In this case, it’s the history combined with the prestige of the brand which gives the Submariner model such a safe and secure position in the market as an investable timepiece – a position that the Submariner shares with other early models of Rolex’s top sports pieces.
The Daytona is another of the better-known sports models, which was designed with motorsports in mind, and enables the wearer to not only tell the time but track their speed and distance, and also measure the average speed of each lap around a race track. This watch was released in 1963 and uses a complex mechanical chronograph to maximise its functionality – again, while retaining the same level of effortless elegance and design flair.
Other sports models from the Rolex collection include the Rolex Yacht-Master and the Sky-Dweller, both of which boast their own additional features in the form of a graduated bezel to enable the wearer to read time intervals, and the inclusion of different time zones on the single watch face respectively. Both of these models utilise the same waterproofing features as standard, with all Rolex watches leaning on the underlying value and prestige of the logo, branding, and exquisite use of valuable materials.
Famous Names and Influencers Who Helped Along the Way
While the Rolex name and brand alone does a lot for the marketing of each and every product, tapping into the incredibly high demand and limited supply that ensures the value of each individual product remains high, Rolex uses sports marketing particularly well – as evidenced by these examples.
When Rolex was first created by Wilsdorf and Davis, the two were keen to use their Swiss watchmaking skills to develop a leading and unrivalled collection of timepieces that broke barriers and constantly bettered the market. A 45-day test proved that the earliest Rolex watches could withstand and stay working in ice-cold and incredibly hot temperatures, with the release of the Oyster case as the first waterproof case in 1926 an industry-changing innovation. Rolex launched this particular feature, which ultimately contributed towards the creation of the Submariner a few decades later, by gifting a Rolex to female swimmer Mercedes Gleitze to wear when she crossed the channel. Gleitze wore the watch around her neck and returned after the ten-hour swim with the watch fully operational, proving its waterproof structure.
Beyond that, Rolex has adorned professionals across various sports with Rolex watches to bolster the sense of prestige that wearers and buyers get when they put on a Rolex watch. In the 1960s, Rolex partnered with professional golfer Arnold Palmer, and the idea of a Rolex watch providing style and function on the course has continued to the modern day, with wearers including Tiger Woods. The connection between a wrist that is wearing a Rolex watch with the trophy in their hand is one which has solidified Rolex as the favoured brand of champions.
How Does Rolex Stay Up to Date in the Sporting Industry?
The connection between Rolex and the sporting industry does not end with its professional sports collection – in fact, much of Rolex’s marketing and role in the sports industry lies in the partnerships between the brand and different sporting events.
These include sponsorship of major tournaments, including the PGA Championship and The British Open, and the provision of an LPGA player of the year award for ladies’ golf since 1966.
Outside of golf, Rolex has been linked with the world of equestrian sport for over 60 years, sponsoring events and individual riders – including the Royal Windsor Horse Show. The Rolex Daytona is said to be a particularly popular model among these sportsmen, as it is ideal for racing and for working out average distances and speeds on the move.
And who could forget the red carpet, on which Rolex has been presented many times in connection with action heroes like James Bond and others? Despite not being a definitive sports connection, the very idea that Rolex is the timepiece of choice for an agent like the fictional James Bond creates an element of prestige around both the brand and individual models.
Investing in a Rolex, whether a new or vintage model, is generally considered to be a positive move towards modern investing – with Rolex watches regularly fetching well above market and retail value on the second-hand market. To browse our Love Luxury collection of Rolex pieces, from the sports collection and beyond, visit us at one of our boutique stores or head to our website.