Winston Churchill wore one, Pablo Picasso, too. Even the Dalai Lama has a few. Founded in 1905, Rolex is decades younger than luxury watch brands the likes of Patek Philippe and A. Lange & Söhne. This brand that was founded in London over 100 years ago has made its own mark in the world like its peers and is often worn by notable individuals and those who have taste for the finer things in life.
In 1919, Rolex moved its operations to Switzerland and became one of the most well-known Swiss-made brands in the world. For decades, Rolex watches have been sought after, valued, and admired.
Although the brand is globally recognizable, Rolex has maintained a certain mystique and its strict no photography policy inside its facilities takes discreetness to a whole new level. Apart from this air of secrecy and the obvious beauty of every Rolex watch, many wonder what makes these watches so valuable.Rolex Uses Expensive Materials
The standard steel for the luxury market is 316L. Rolex, on the other hand utilizes a harder, shinier steel called the 904L. 904L steel is difficult to work with but for Rolex, it’s worth it. This particular steel is hardier, it is rust and corrosion resistant, and looks better than other types of steel. It also takes special skills and special tools to work with 904L.
Aside from this special steel, Rolex also uses bezel, a scratch proof ceramic and lines it with sandblasted platinum. The brand also incorporates gold, platinum, and precious stones into its watches.
Movements are as complicated as car engines, only on a smaller scale. Since the parts are so small and delicate, the failure rate during assembly is far higher. While the parts are made by a machine, all movements are put together by hand. For Rolex, this is the only way to do it. Each watch is also polished and finished by hand.
Almost Everything’s In-House
For all of Rolex’s contributions in the watchmaking industry, it comes as no surprise that the company controls every part of their production process. Rolex is obsessive when it comes to quality control. Rolex has its own science lab, gemology department, foundry, and even employs its own jewelers.
Their internal Research & Development department works on different items that are involved in the manufacturing process. This includes the development of oils and lubricants to make machines work more efficiently, an area for research dedicated to new watches and parts, and a place where they take a closer look at metals.
The brand also has its own stress test room where watches go through simulated wear through the help of robots. Additional tests are done depending on the specific model. Rolex Dive watches, for example, are tested for water resistance inside pressurized tanks.
This luxury brand makes its own gold and processes platinum in its own foundry as well.
Rolex also has its very own gemological department that tests every batch of diamonds or precious stones that come their way. On top of all that, the luxury watch brand also has traditional jewelers in-house. They are the ones who set hand-selected stones onto each watch.
It Takes a Long Time to Make One Rolex Watch
Although Rolex is pragmatic with technology, it does not take shortcuts when it comes to making its watches. It is true that the brand makes almost a million watches per year, but quality and performance are their topmost priorities. That’s why you’ll always pay premium for a Rolex.