All excellent choices, no doubt. But no. For well over a half century, Rolex has been the brand to wear if you were a world leader, an adventurer, a commando, a rock star, an A-list actor, or a major sports figure.
Paul Thorpe who owns www.watchdealers.co.uk tells us:
Wearing and indeed just owning a Rolex means so much which is why famous people like Brad Pitt, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, James Bond, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, JZ, David and Victoria Beckham and so many other celebrities indugle the brand.
So why do people wear a Rolex ?
The name is insurmountably fashionable without being just ‘trendy’ which is what the most powerful leaders strive for. It typically symbolises the hard work that went into achieving success in life or some special occasion like a wedding, or election to political office. Quite simply it’s a quality machine that you can wear and a status symbol all in one
The Watches of Rolex
Let’s take a step back for some background on the Rolex watches themselves. The Rolex models you hear most about are the Day-Date, the Datejust, the Submariner, the GMT, the Cosmograph Daytona, and the Explorer.
Others include the Sea-Dweller and Sea-Dweller Deepsea, the Lady Datejust, the Air King, the Yacht-Master and Yacht-Master II, the Milgauss, and the new Sky-Dweller. There’s also the Cellini line, which is a more designer-inspired line of watches.
Legend has it that the Rolex Day-Date – the solid gold or platinum timepiece with the day of the week arcing across the dial at 12:00 and the date under the “Cyclops” magnifier window at 3:00 – was nicknamed “The President” precisely because so many Presidents , United States and other countries’ leaders – wore one.
The Iconic Datejust is Rolex’s workhorse dress watch. Similar to the Day-Date, but date only and a bit more understated.
The Submariner of course, is the definitive dive watch. It looks great in the water, with T-shirt and jeans, or with a suit. The GMT is basically a two time zone version of the Submariner, sometimes without quite the same level of water resistance. As international air travel blossomed in the 1950s, Pan American Airlines was instrumental in the development of the GMT for their pilots.
The Cosmograph Daytona is Rolex’s entry in the chronograph arena. Often referred to simply as “the Daytona,” the racing-inspired chrono was called the Le Mans before Rolex began sponsoring the 24 hour endurance race held at the Daytona International Speedway each winter.
The Rolex Explorer will fool you into thinking it’s the understated Plain-Jane of the line, an every-day wear watch. Nothing could be further from the truth. The roots of its fame are at the pinnacles of the Himalayas. The Rich, the Powerful, the Famous, and the Infamous.
Golfer Jack Nicklaus has worn his unadorned 18ct yellow gold Day-Date for decades. Scottish racer Jackie Stewart bought a similar piece with his share of the purse from the 1966 Indy 500.
Novelist Randy Wayne White’s character Doc Ford, a former clandestine services “negotiator” (a euphemism for assassin), James Bond wore a Submariner in several movies, and favoured Rolex exclusively in Ian Fleming’s novels – probably because Fleming himself wore one, an Explorer.
Perhaps inspired by Fleming and Bond, Her Majesty the Queen issued military spec Submariner “Milsubs” to British Navy divers in the 1980s. These days, verified examples fetch six figures in the vintage market.
Last year, filmmaker James Cameron wore a Deepsea to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, the Challenger Deep. Another Deepsea was strapped to the robot manipulator arm of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible which carried Cameron to the bottom and back.
Actor Paul Newman wore several versions of the Daytona. Certain early models became known as “Paul Newman” Daytona’s. These days you can see Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine occasionally sporting a stainless steel Paul Newman Daytona while coaching his team on the hit NBC reality show, The Voice. Supermodel Elle MacPherson occasionally sports a yellow gold version.
Sir Edmund Hillary famously wore an Explorer to the top of Mount Everest in 1953. Reinhold Messner wore an Explorer II while climbing K2 in 1979, as well as during numerous other mountaineering adventures.
But Paul notes, “While most people know the famous stars like actors and professional athletes, most are not as aware that people in power, politicians, foreign leaders, Presidents and heads of state also wear Rolex. They wear a Rolex as a mark of power and prestige.
“Even Fidel Castro wore a Rolex. In fact, there are photos of him wearing his Rolex the day he took over control of Cuba. Other political leaders include Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy (both former French Presidents), Boris Yeltsin, the first President of the Russian Federation, Gerald Ford and John McCain.”
U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford wore Day-Dates. Ronald Reagan wore a Datejust. Legend has it that Marilyn Monroe gave a Day-Date to President Kennedy. A watch with an inscription from Monroe to Kennedy exists, but the provenance is in dispute and some experts maintain the watch cannot be as represented because its serial number apparently puts its manufacture in 1964 – after Kennedy and Monroe were both gone.
High profile personalities as diverse as Steve McQueen, Pink Floyd founding member Roger Waters, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama, Pope John-Paul II, Muammar Gaddafi and pals of The Revolution, Ernesto “Che” Guevara have worn Rolexes.
And it’s not just men. Hillary Clinton wears a Rolex Lady Datejust. Ellen DeGeneres, Lindsay Vonn, Madonna and Sheryl Crow each wear Rolex. And women are wearing larger watches now than ever before.
Paul say’s that well over 40% of the Rolexes sold to women in his shop are men’s size models. So you see the likes of Jennifer Aniston wearing her 18ct yellow gold Datejust or Day-Date, Ellen DeGeneres wearing a Daytona, Paris Hilton and Ell MacPherson wearing rose and yellow gold Daytona’s and Sharon Stone and Cameron Diaz with their Submariners.
Rolex Watches : Can an icon of History’s rich and powerful survive in the digital age?
With so many Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials ignoring watches in favour of mobiles to tell the time, you’d be excused for asking the question. It turns out the answer is a definite “YES!” though change does come. For instance, rap stars are often seen wearing Day-Dates, albeit all “blinged out,” encrusted with diamonds.
Rolex, ever the conservative company when it comes to style, recently updated parts of their line-up to reflect the current trend toward larger watches. Notably, they kept the previous, smaller models in the line-up as well. And they’re still manufacturing an estimated three quarters of a million timepieces each year, and some estimates put the number at over a million.
Today’s young business leaders still eye Rolex as the brand to wear once they’ve “arrived.” Two young professional men living across the street from the author, both with young families, profess they will purchase a Rolex when they feel they’ve attained the proper level of career achievement.
Current leading sports figures like Roger Federer, Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods have recently become brand ambassadors. Late last year, Rolex entered into a multi-year partnership with Formula 1® auto racing and ttere’s also more interest than ever before in vintage Rolex watches.
So it seems The Crown is not going away, quite the opposite.