Rihanna Wearing a Rolex on Fader Cover

Music superstar and fashion icon Rihanna graced the cover of The Fader magazine for their 100th issue. She snapped the photo herself during a shoot with photographer Renata Raksha. She is styled by Shibon Kennedy with her pink Fur Slide by FENTY Puma sandals and a two tone Rolex Lady Datejust. 

Rihanna on the cover of Fader
Rihanna on the cover of Fader wearing a Rolex (photo: Fader)

The singer was named creative director for Puma's womenswear in 2014 and recently debuted her FENTY X PUMA collection, featuring an interesting take on women's athletic clothing. The Trainer, shown in the photo below, fuses modern comfort, an urban aesthetic and a flare that can only be achieved by a tastemaker like Rihanna. They are sold out at the Puma online store along with the fuzzy sandals.

Aside from her fashion endeavors, the singer released the number one album, Anti, and broke records with her chart topping hit Work featuring Drake. She is now on a world tour supporting the album, her most critically acclaimed and stylistically unique musically offering to date.  She wore her Lady Datejust in one of the scenes of her steamy new music video for the song Needed Me, the latest single off the double platinum album.


A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

What is a Paul Newman Daytona?

Paul Newman was an American movie star and professional race car driver known for his roles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Color of Money, for which he won an Academy Award in 1986. He began his racing career in 1972 on the Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut. 

Rolex Daytona with Paul Newman Dial (photo: ©Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer)
Newman married actress and costar in the film 'The Long, Hot Summer' Joanne Woodward in 1958. It is speculated that she gifted him with his Rolex Daytona when he took up auto racing in the early 1970s.

What people refer to as a 'Paul Newman Daytona' is a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona model that was fitted with a unique dial by the watchmaker on a limited number of models. The reason there are so few of them is that they were not popular when they hit the market. They became popular decades after their release, with the help of Newman acting as an unofficial ambassador of the rare chronographs.

There are a few different dial configurations for what collectors consider Paul Newman Daytonas. The model shown above features an inverted color scheme, with a white dial and black sub-dials. The seconds sub-dial has different markings than the original Daytona, with numbers 15, 30, 45 and 60, displayed instead of the customary 20, 40 and 60.

The reason for the inverted colors is to improve visibility while keeping time during a race. This dial features a seconds track printed on the dial in a contrasting black ring, making it easier to use the chronograph functions at high speeds.

In November of 2013, a Paul Newman Daytona sold for a record $1.1 Million at a Christie's auction in Geneva, Switzerland. The buyer chose to remain anonymous.


Neil deGrasse Tyson Wears a Rolex Datejust

American astrophysicist and director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the world's foremost experts on questions about the universe. Like many accomplished professionals, he chooses to wear a Rolex,  photographed below wearing a  two-tone Datejust. 

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson Wearing a Rolex (photo: Navid Baratay)
The half Puerto Rican, half African American scientist grew up in the Bronx, New York.  He completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University before attending UT Austin, where he received a masters degree and, in 1991, received his PhD from Columbia University. He has published several books and remains a strong voice in the scientific community.

Over the past few years, the scientist has become a celebrity after hosting programs for PBS and 2014's Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a Fox reboot of Carl Sagan's 1980 miniseries, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. In 2009, Tyson began his popular Star Talk radio show, which would eventually get picked up as a television series by National Geographic Channel. Star Talk guests include Cosmos executive producer Seth Macfarlane, US President Bill Clinton, Richard Dawkins and other influential thought leaders.

Tyson is shown below on the Star Talk Instagram account with Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik during a Star Talk Live appearance. Bialik, an actress and PhD in Neuroscience, is wearing an Apple Watch in the photo.


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Will Apple Watch Sales Affect Rolex's Bottom Line?

Apple Watches
With the introduction of the Apple Watch, many reports have pitted the wearables against Rolex watches. The temptation to bring Rolex into the conversation is clearly based on the company's international profile. Along with Apple, it is one of the most reputable companies in the world. However, that doesn't justify a comparison of Rolex wristwatches to smart watches.

There are luxury watchmakers that are entering the smart watch market, like Tag Heuer. A comparison of one of their smart watches to the Apple watch would make sense. But the idea that Apple's watches are eating into Rolex's bottom line in a stretch. The Swiss watchmaking industry hasn't been doing great, but the watches they are selling are the lower priced tool watches in stainless steel, the same segment people speculate will be affected by smart watch sales.

Only time will tell is smart watches will take hold of the pockets of younger generations. With the pricing of luxury Swiss watches making them out of reach for Millennials, it may just be a temporary budgetary issue. 

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Wearing a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Victoria's Secret Angel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was shot by the paparazzi at LAX wearing an Isabel Marant sweater, suede boots and one of her Rolex Cosmograph Daytona wristwatches. The English model and fiancé to movie star Jason Statham has been photographed wearing Daytonas in both stainless steel and rose gold. 

Photo of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Wearing a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wearing Rolex Cosmograph Daytona (photo: bestcelebritystyle.com)
The stunning beauty has appeared on magazine covers and been named the sexiest woman alive. She is currently working on a line of cosmetics and lingerie with British retailer Marks and Spencer. This seems like a logical career move, as Huntington-Whiteley is known best for her role as an Angel and covergirl. She has also appeared in a few films, most recently Mad Max: Fury Road.

Rosie recently walked in Balmain's A/W 2016 show in Paris Fashion Week donning a jet black wig. She and Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing were photographed below celebrating the designer's 30th birthday party. The photo appears on the model's Instagram account.


A photo posted by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (@rosiehw) on

Does Rolex Make Their Own Gold?

Consistent with their vertically integrated business model, Rolex manufactures gold in their own foundry at their Plan-les-Ouates site in Geneva, Switzerland. This allows them to control the composition of the gold alloys used in their wristwatches. 

Photo of Rolex 18 karat Gold
Rolex 18 karat Yellow Gold (photo: Rolex)
Rolex adds silver, copper and other elements to 24 karat gold in different proportions to get either a white, yellow or rose gold alloy. The elements are fused at over 1000ºC, then the molten alloy goes through a graphite sieve to create small beads that are then fused into rods and stretched and rolled. The parts are then stamped out of the sheets and polished to be fitted onto the corresponding timepieces.

Rolex patented their rose gold alloy, called Everose, in 2005. They closely guard the composition of this alloy to maintain the exclusivity of their pink gold. They refer to the combination of gold with their 904L stainless steel as Rolesor, a name that was patented in 1933.


What is the Difference Between 904L and 316L Stainless Steel?

Rolex is the only watchmaker that uses 904L stainless steel instead of the industry standard 316L stainless steel in their wristwatches. While many on Rolex forums claim that this is simply a way for Rolex to differentiate themselves from competitors, it should be noted that there are differences between the two. 

photo of Rolex 904L Stainless Steel
Rolex 904L Stainless Steel (photo: Rolex)
904L stainless steel is customarily used in chemical and aerospace applications. It is highly resistant to corrosion from acids, which makes it ideal for handling chemicals. However, a wristwatch would rarely be exposed to corrosive acids to such a degree. After all, if the watch on your wrist is exposed to these acids, you would likely lose your arm in the incident, making the watch's resistance to chemicals irrelevant as you will no longer have a wrist to wear it on.

In terms of chemical composition, 904L stainless steel has a lower amount of carbon and a higher concentration of nickel and chromium and copper added in comparison to 316L. Rolex melts this stainless steel alloy twice to purify it and ensure that it will polish well.

The polish and the resistance to scratching are the selling points that Rolex uses to promote 904L stainless steel alloy that they manufacture in-house. Although the process is more rigorous and expensive, the watchmaker insists that it is superior to 316L.

Some claim that higher amounts of nickel in 904L steel could lead to allergies on contact, but anyone with a nickel allergy would have a similar reaction when coming into contact with 316L as well.

For more information on 904L stainless steel, check out my post in the Tech section.


Tom Hardy Wearing a Rolex Explorer II

Englishman Tom Hardy has become a big action movie star over the past few years. He garnered respect and notoriety for his role as Bane in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 and most recently he was seen in the Oscar winning films The Revenant and Mad Max:Fury Road. 

Photo of Tom Hardy at Toronto International Film Festival Wearing a Rolex Explorer II
Tom Hardy at Toronto International Film Festival Wearing a Rolex Explorer II (photo: Telegraph UK)
While his star has been steadily on the rise, reports have surfaced that question his behavior toward reporters during junkets and press interviews. At the Toronto International Film Festival, where Hardy was promoting his film Legend, a reporter questioned him about his sexuality. Hardy shut him down and made headlines after for insisting that his personal life remain private. He is photographed above wearing a Rolex Explorer II at the film festival.

More recently, the Telegraph UK reported another incident in which the actor seemed to anger a reporter who allegedly waited to interview him for four hours and, after the actor did not show up, went to Twitter to air his grievances.

The actor, who is still in his twenties and is father to one child, is certainly talented and will likely continue to work despite making enemies in the press. While his point about keeping certain aspects of his life private isn't very controversial, it seems his rapport with the press is the actual issue in this case.


Rolex International Equestrian Sponsorships

Rolex became a major international sponsor of equestrianism with the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping that was created in 2013. This global initiative includes the CHIO Aachen, CSIO Spruce Meadows 'Masters' Tournament and CHI Geneva. 

Photo of Georgina Bloomberg at Central Park Celebration of the Horse, 2014
Georgina Bloomberg at Central Park Celebration of the Horse, 2014 (photo: Rolex)
One of the most prestigious horse shows in Europe, the CHIO (Concours Hippique International Official) Aachen takes place in Aachen, Germany every summer. Competitions are held in five categories: show jumping, dressage, eventing, four-in-hand driving and vaulting. Past winners include Nelson Pessoa, his son Rodrigo Pessoa, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Eric Lamaze.

Every year in the fall, the CSIO Spruce Meadows 'Masters' Tournament takes place in Calgary, Canada. Rolex became affiliated with the equestrian show jumping event in 1989. From 2001-2004, it was named the number one international show jumping event in the world.

Rolex has been presenting sponsor for the CHI Geneva since 1996. Taking place in Geneva, Switzerland in December, it is the longest running indoor indoor equestrian show in history. It takes place at the Palexpo, the largest indoor arena in the world.

Rolex also sponsors the World Equestrian Games, which takes place every four years at a different venue. They are title sponsor of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final and Kentucky Three Day Event, they partnered with the Palm Beach International Center in 2012 and since 2014 they have partnered with Indoor Brabant in the Netherlands. They are also the official timepiece for the Badminton and Burghley Horse Trials.


Rolex Introduced the Sky-Dweller Model in 2012

In 2012 Rolex released their Sky-Dweller model with an impressive list of utilitarian features for frequent flyers. Protected by 14 patents, this watch can keep the time in two places at once and differentiate between months with 30 and 31 days. It also has a clever annual calendar display, with a month indicator on each of the 12 hour marks and a date aperture at the 3 o'clock position. 
photo of First Rolex Sky-Dweller Model, 2012
First Rolex Sky-Dweller Model, 2012 (photo: Rolex)
The 9001 movement that was designed for this model uses a Saros annual calendar to differentiate between the longer or shorter months. It is one of the most complex mechanical watch movements manufactured by Rolex, responsible for telling the time in two locations at once and allowing the wearer to jump from hour to hour to set it without affecting the minute or second hands.

Aside from the technical innovations, the Sky-Dweller offers an interesting design aesthetic that incorporates the fluted bezel of the original Day-Date, a large 42 mm case, a Cyclops magnifying lens and a unique off-center rotating 24 hour disc.

The functionality of this timepiece is accessible to most after a quick study of the crown and bezel. Its size is just large enough to compete with other large luxury watches that dominate the market but small enough to look sophisticated on the wrist.


Rolex Introduces Yacht-Master II Model in 2007

Fifteen years after the release of the Yacht-Master model in 1992, Rolex introduced the Yacht-Master II. With a 44 mm case and a regatta timer, this timepiece took advantage of the watchmaker's tech innovations of the early 2000s to expand upon the functionality of the original. 
photo of First Rolex Yacht-Master II Model from 2007
First Rolex Yacht-Master II Model from 2007 (photo: Rolex)
This massive watch, one of Rolex's largest, was equipped with a 4161 movement that interacted with the Ring Command Bezel to operate the regatta timer and programmable countdown. Based on the 4130 movement, it featured the blue Parachrom hairspring and a power reserve of 72 hours.

Though there couldn't have been much of a demand for a timepiece with a regatta timer on the luxury watch market at the time, the Yacht-Master II provided a nautical alternative to other large professional watches like Rolex's Cosmograph Daytona. From the functionality perspective, the regatta timer isn't anymore esoteric than the tachymetric scale on the Daytona.

More so than the Yacht-Master model, the Yacht-Master II solidified Rolex's commitment to the yachting world. They have sponsored a multitude of yachting events throughout their history, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in Australia.


Rolex Tech Innovations of the Early 21st Century

After the release of the Yacht-Master and Pearlmaster models in 1992, Rolex would not release a new model for another 15 years. At the beginning of the 21st century, they focused on technical innovations that would allow them to further vertically integrate their manufacturing and improve upon their timepieces from the inside out.

photo of Rolex Tech Innovations of the Early 2000s (photo: Rolex/Christophe Lauffenburger)
Rolex Tech Innovations of the Early 2000s (photo: Rolex/Christophe Lauffenburger)
In 2000, Rolex fitted the Cosmograph Daytona with their 4130 movement. Completely manufactured by the watchmaker, this movement replaced the Zenith El Primero movement in the Daytona model. Both the 4130 and the El Primero are still considered the top of the line in terms of mechanical watch movements.

The 2000 version of the 4130 movement contained a Prachrom hairspring that was developed by Rolex. By 2005, they achieved the characteristic blue color on what is now known as the blue Parachrom hairspring. They also patented the Paraflex shock absorber, a shock absorption system also manufactured completely in-house by the watchmaker. In that year they also patented their proprietary Cerachrom ceramic used for the bezel.

Finally, they also improved upon the escapement of their movements, developing the Chronergy escapement used today in their 3235 and 3255 movements. With their movements and most components therein now manufactured in-house, Rolex has more control over the quality of their products than ever. It will be interesting to see how this autonomy will impact what they do next.


Rolex Yacht-Master and Pearlmaster Models Introduced in 1992

Rolex released two new models in 1992 that used precious metals and stones to differentiate them from other popular models: the Yacht-Master, shown below in 18 karat yellow gold, and the diamond-clad Lady Datejust Pearlmaster. 
photo of First Rolex Yacht-Master Model Released in 1992
First Rolex Yacht-Master Model Released in 1992 (photo: Rolex)
Many claim that the Yacht-Master model released in 1992 was meant to be an upgraded version of the Submariner model, but Rolex decided to keep the Submariner as is and release this model as a boating watch, as opposed to a dive watch.

For all intents and purposes, it looks like the same watch. However, the Yacht-Master was the first professional Rolex model available in three sizes - 29 mm, 35 mm and 40 mm. Rolex used 18 karat gold on the Yacht-Master, including on the bezel, which featured raised numerals. The 40 mm version uses the same movement as the Sub, adding to their similarities.

photo of First Rolex Pearlmaster Model from 1992
First Rolex Pearlmaster Model from 1992 (photo: Rolex)
The Pearlmaster was also introduced that year as an amped up version of the classic Lady Datejust model. The fist model, shown in the photo above, featured a diamond bezel and a brand new Pearlmaster bracelet, a smoother, more elegant version of the Oyster bracelet. In subsequent models, the links of the bracelet are lined with diamonds as well.

While both models adhere to Rolex design standards for the most part, they each offer variations on popular models that appeal to a wealthier demographic. While the Yacht-Master bears similarities to the Submariner, the name and materials used suggest that this model is designed for the captain of the vessel, not the divers onboard.


Rolex Introduces GMT-Master II Model in 1982

At the height of the 'Quartz Crisis' that many credit with the decline of the Swiss watchmaking industry from the 1970s to the early 1980s, only the most economically viable Swiss watchmakers remained in business. Rolex was one of those companies, raising the prices of their timepieces consistently through the years to position their products as the ultimate in luxury and innovation. 
photo of First rolex GMT-Master II Model, 1982
First GMT-Master II Model, 1982 (photo: Rolex)
In 1982, Rolex released the GMT-Master II model, which would go on to replace the GMT-Master years later. The GMT-Master II featured a thicker, synthetic sapphire crystal and a thicker case than its predecessor. It also allowed the wearer to jump from one hour to another when adjusting the hour hand without affecting the minute or second hands.

The 1980s also saw the beginning of Rolex's use of 904l stainless steel, which they used in place of the 316l stainless steel which is still the industry standard. This stainless steel alloy is normally used in industrial applications due to its resistance to corrosion and scratching in extreme conditions; it also polished better than 316l stainless steel.

While the advent of quartz watch movements may have altered the landscape of the Swiss watchmaking industry, it would seem to have only reinforced Rolex's vertically integrated business model.


Rolex 4130 Movement

Rolex Calibre 4130 is a mechanical chronograph movement with a column wheel and vertical clutch that replaced the Zenith El Primero movement in the 2000 Cosmograph Daytona model. The Superlative Chronometer is accurate to within 1/8 of a second. 

photo of Rolex calibre 4130 Movement
Rolex 4130 Movement (photo: Rolex)
Equipped with 44 rubies, Rolex over coil, four gold Microstella nuts for high precision regulating and a power reserve of 72 hours, this movement resists shock and magnetism to provide ultimate accuracy. A blue Parachrom hairspring gives it a frequency of 28,800 beats per hour.

The Cosmograph Daytona model features a 30 minute counter at the 3 o'clock position, seconds counter at the 6 o'clock position, a 12 hour counter at the 9 o'clock position and stop seconds to allow for accuracy in time keeping. According to Crown & Caliber, the 4130 movement is one of the most innovative watch movements. It is manufactured completely in house by Rolex.


What is a Mechanical Watch Movement?

A mechanical wristwatch movement (also referred to as a 'calibre' or 'caliber') is the mechanism located in the case of the watch that is responsible for powering it, keeping precise time and carrying out its functions. A movement is either manually wound or self-winding (automatic).

close up photo  of a rolex mechanical watch movement
What is a Mechanical Watch Movement? (photo: Rolex)
A manual or hand-wound watch movement is powered by the winding of the crown. The crown winds the mainspring inside, which is the power source of the movement. That power moves through the escapement and is regulated by the oscillator. The oscillator is like the heart of the watch, but instead of pumping blood into the circulatory system it regulates the frequency of energy coming from the mainspring through the escapement.

Rolex innovated the self-winding Perpetual rotor in 1931 to power their wristwatch movements without requiring the wearer to wind the crown. Instead, a semi-circular weighted rotor pivots back and forth as the watch moves on the wrist to wind up the mainspring. The video below does a good job of illustrating the inner workings of mechanical watch movements - both manual and self-winding - as well as quartz movements, which are battery powered.


Rolex Sea-Dweller Introduced in 1967

The 1960s were a time of extensive oceanic exploration as advancements in technology allowed scientists to go further than ever before to explore the ocean depths. Henri G. Delouze founded the Compagnie Maritime d'Expertises, or COMEX, in 1961 in Marseille, France, to employ professional divers for industrial deep sea dives for oil rigs, gas companies and oceanographical research. 
photo of First Rolex Sea-Dweller, 1967
First Rolex Sea-Dweller, 1967 (photo: Rolex)
While Rolex had already introduced the Submariner model for professional divers, COMEX divers required a wristwatch with an improved depth rating. In 1967 Rolex introduced a small amount of Sea-Dwellers to meet these needs. The 1665 model, shown above, featured a helium escape valve that allowed helium to escape the case of the watch during decompression without damaging it. The 'Sea-Dweller' and 'Submariner 2000' lines on the dial were colored red, giving them the nickname 'Double Red' by collectors.

In 1978, they introduced reference 16660 equipped with a 3035 movement and a depth rating of 4,000 feet. They also improved the vibrational speed of the Sea-Dweller, increasing it from 19,800 bph to 28,800 bph. The next set of improvements to this model didn't come until 2008 when the Deepsea was introduced.

The legacies of the Submariner and Sea-Dweller live on today in the current models. While some changes have been made throughout the years, the spirit of oceanic exploration and innovation remains an integral part of their popularity.


Rolex Cellini Dual Time

Rolex's Cellini models are outliers when compared to the rest of their models. They don't use Oyster cases or metal bracelets, which sets them apart from the Oyster models the watchmaker is primarily known for. 
photo of Rolex Cellini Dual Time
Rolex Cellini Dual Time (photo: Rolex)
The design of the Cellini Time, shown above in 18 karat white gold with a black alligator leather strap, is clean and sophisticated. The case measures 39 mm in diameter and features a double bezel that is both domed and fluted with a guilloche dial. Cellini models only come in 18 karat white, yellow or rose gold with gold appliqué hour markers.

The Cellini Time has a gold-rimmed sub-dial at the 6 o'clock position that can be programed to tell the time of a different time zone. The sub-dial has an aperture at the 9 o'clock position that shows a sun in the am hours and a moon in the pm hours. The hour and minute hands are shaped like swords and the hour markers are bisected by the minute scale. 

The large, round case and refined features position this timepiece among the more modern luxury wristwatches meant only to adorn the wrist and tell the time. With a depth rating of a mere 50 meters, this is not a sports watch by any stretch of the imagination. It is, however, a unique and elegant addition to Rolex's product offering.

Rolex Extension Systems

Rolex currently offers three different extension systems on their wristwatches, each extending the bracelet by varying lengths, depending on the model. No tools are required to adjust the lengths using these extensions, making it easy for the wearer to adjust whenever necessary. 

photo of Rolex Glidelock Extension System
Rolex Glidelock Extension System (photo: Rolex)
The Easylink allows one to extend the bracelet by 5mm by unfolding a link tucked away under the clasp. Rolex's professional dive watches, the Submariner, Deepsea and Sea-Dweller 4000, are equipped with the Glidelock extension system.

The Glidelock extends the bracelet by 20 millimeters at 2 millimeter increments with a toothed panel under the clasp. On the Deepsea model, the rack can be lifted to adjust the length without taking off the watch. The Fliplock Extension, on the Deepsea and Sea-Dweller 4000, is a fold-out link that increases the bracelet by an additional 26mm.

Check out my Submariner Date vs Deepsea Model Comparison to see a photo of the fully extended bracelet of the Deepsea with the Fliplock extension. I also included a photo of the rack of the Deepsea lifted out of the clasp.


Which Rolex Model is Right for Me?

Once you've decided on purchasing a Rolex, the next question would be - which model is right for you? Personal style, budget, functionality and size are a few of the factors that go into deciding between Rolex models.

Which Rolex Model is Right for Me? (photo: Leandro Puca)
Personal style is probably the most important factor that goes into this decision. If you're like most people, you wear your wristwatch on a daily basis, so you should consider how a watch would look on your wrist transitioning from work to social settings, outdoors, formal events, etc. In the Style section of this site, I include photos of people wearing their watches in different situations to give you an idea of who is wearing what and how.

Size is also an important deciding factor. When browsing timepieces on websites, it's hard to imagine how they would look on your wrist without a point of comparison. I have added a Model Comparison section to show how different models measure up against each other.

Although most people don't use professional watches as tools for their trades, their functionality is still important. People who travel a lot may put the GMT's 24 hour hand to good use. If you're into racing cars, the Daytona's tachymetric scale may better suit your needs.

photo of GMT-Master II Model Display at Baselworld 2016
GMT-Master II Model Display at Baselworld 2016
Ultimately, though, whatever model you chose has to fit into your budget. New Rolex Models range from approximately $5,000 US to upwards of $100,000 US depending on the model and configuration. I include Rolex's suggested retail price in most model posts. If it is not listed in the post, it's because I haven't been able to verify the price using primary sources.


Why Buy a Rolex?

Once you've made the decision to purchase a luxury watch, the logical first question to ask yourself would be - from who? There are many luxury watchmakers with long histories and large product offerings - Cartier, Patek Philippe, Panerai and Omega, to name a few. All of them are top of the line and offer beautiful timepieces. 

exterior photo of rolex bienne switzerland site
Rolex Bienne, Switzerland (photo: Rolex/Rémy Lidereau)
What set Rolex apart for me when I was on the market for a luxury watch was a combination of design aesthetic, legacy and technical innovation. When compared to the interesting new designs that have a appeared on the market recently - from skeleton watches to smart watches - Rolex watches may appear a bit traditional or even simple. However, it is their adherence to classical style and elegance that made me go with a Rolex in the end.

While smart watches are trendy, there's just something about having another digital screen to look at every day that turned me off from them. And I love the artistic look of skeleton watches, but the legibility is an issue for me - and why wear a watch if you can't tell the time on it? If I had a budget for multiple luxury timepieces I would buy one of each for different occasions. But I don't, so I went with what made the most sense for me.

photo of interior of rolex workshop
Rolex Workshop (photo: Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer)
Another factor that helped me decide on a Rolex for my first luxury watch purchase was the company's history. Learning about Rolex's founder, Hans Wilsdorf, and his obsession with reliability, innovation and excellence was compelling to me. I had always seen Rolex watches as a status symbol, but I never really asked myself why this brand was associated with success more so than any other.

That enduring success is also largely due to the technical innovations that Rolex has developed over the years. While Rolex models don't seem to change dramatically over the years, the movements inside have seen many improvements. Rolex is a vertically integrated company and they manufacture most of their movements, precious metals, steel bracelets and cases in house.

These are the main reasons that I decided to purchase a Rolex watch, but I would be remiss not to mention the fact that I inherited a Rolex from my grandfather and wore it for years before deciding to purchase one for myself. I ultimately chose a different model, but that experience certainly informed my purchase decision.


When Should I Buy My First Rolex?

There are many differing opinions about when to purchase your first luxury watch. The first and most logical answer is when you can afford one. While some people are privileged enough to be able to acquire a luxury timepiece early in life, most people have to work their way up to owning one. With that being said, a Rolex watch purchase is a great way to commemorate a career milestone.

Pondering a Rolex Purchase (photo: Olu Eletu)
Another common reason to buy a Rolex is to mark the passage of time. Anniversaries and birthdays are great times to show loved ones how much you care. Receiving a gift in the form of a luxury watch is always appreciated and creates a beautiful memory. It's also really nice to soften to blow of growing older by gifting yourself with one after reaching a certain age - a fortieth birthday, for example.

Finally, such a gift is an ideal way to honor an accomplishment. To receive or purchase a timepiece after a graduation or promotion imbues it with meaning and honors the tradition of excellence that is the hallmark of the Rolex brand.


Pablo Picasso Wearing a Rolex GMT-Master

By the 1960s, both Rolex and Pablo Picasso were known around the world. Picasso for his achievements in art, including but not limited to masterpieces like La Guernica and Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, as well as his influence over the cubist movement in the early 20th century. In the same time period, visionary Hans Wilsdorf brought the Rolex brand to the forefront of innovation and wristwatch design. 

photo of Pablo Picasso Wearing a Rolex GMT-Master and Native American War Bonnet it the 1960s
Pablo Picasso Wearing a Rolex GMT-Master and Native American War Bonnet it the 1960s (photo: Rolex)
He is photographed above wearing a Rolex GMT-Master and a Native American war bonnet in the 1960s. By this time, Picasso has already gone through many artistic periods, from the blue period that produced works like his Blue Nude to the cubist movement that would eventually influence perhaps his most important work, La Guernica, which shed light on the bombing of the the Basque country village during the Spanish Civil War.

Many don't associate Picasso with sculpture, however, he dedicated time to producing sculptures later in his life, including the 'Chicago Picasso' as it is now known. Shown below, the towering sculpture was designed by Picasso in 1965 and built by the US Bridge Company, a division of the US Steel Corporation, for its dedication in 1967.

Picasso was offered $100,000 for the commission, which he donated to the people of Chicago. The abstract cubist sculpture was met with some resistance by some Chicagoans, who compared it to a large insect. Others, including Picasso's grandson, posit that Frenchwoman Sylvette David served as inspiration for this piece.

'Chicago Picasso' Sculpture by Pablo Picasso Dedicated to the People of Chicago in 1967 (source: J. Crocker)
While we may never know what the Chicago Picasso represents, we can appreciate it as a monolith of modern art and a tribute to early 20th century design and ingenuity. It also serves as the perfect foil for the symmetry and adherence to classical design represented by Rolex wristwatches.


Tudor Watch Company

"For some years now, I have been considering the idea of making a watch that our agents could sell at a more modest price than our Rolex watches, and yet one that would attain the standard of dependability for which Rolex is famous. I decided to form a seperate company, with the object of making and marketing this new watch. It is called the Tudor Watch Company." - Hans Wilsdorf

Ad for Tudor Oyster Prince from 1952 (source: Tudor)
Tudor Watch Company was officially founded in 1946, taking its name from the Tudor dynasty of England. The original logo that appeared on their wristwatches until 1969 was the Tudor Rose, which was replaced by the shield logo that the watchmaker uses to this day. Although Rolex makes no mention of the Tudor brand on any of their current media platforms, Hans Wilsdorf granted the company the right to use Rolex's Oyster Case and Perpetual rotor technology in their timepieces.

The Oyster Prince model was released in 1952 with an advertising approach meant to show that the modestly priced wristwatch could withstand extreme conditions. The 'Trial of Destruction' as it is referred to in the ad shown above, placed an Oyster Prince on the wrist of a laborer operating a pneumatic drill. After one million shocks, the watch was still ticking.

A couple years later, Tudor released their first of many dive watches, the Oyster Prince Submariner. Water resistant up to 100 meters, it featured a bidirectional rotating bezel with five minute intervals to time dives and decompressions. The photo below shows the Tudor Museum Display from Baselworld 2016, with the 1954 Submariner model at the top.

photo of Tudor Museum Display at Baselworld 2016
Tudor Museum Display at Baselworld 2016
The current Heritage Black Bay model synthesizes the featured of Tudor's historical dive watches, including the Snowflake hour hand that was introduced in 1969 and became a signature design feature. The photo below shows the current Heritage Black Bay model with a burgundy disc and aged leather strap.

photo of Tudor Heritage Black Bay with Burgundy Disc and Aged Leather Strap
Tudor Heritage Black Bay with Burgundy Disc and Aged Leather Strap
The Tudor brand gives consumers a good value proposition. Their timepieces offer the durability and reliability of a Rolex with varied modern design configurations and a smaller price tag. They recently updated their official website, giving it a very millennial-friendly vibe.


Rolex Twinlock and Triplock Winding Crowns

The screw down winding crown was an important component of Rolex's first waterproof Oyster case design in 1927. Due to the fact that the winding crown interacts directly with the movement inside the case to perform essential functions of the watch, it is imperative that it creates a tight seal with the case to keep dust and water out. 

photo of Rolex Triplock Winding Crown
Rolex Triplock Winding Crown (photo: Rolex)
Rolex wristwatches are equipped with either a Twinlock or Triplock winding crown, depending on the model's depth rating. The Twinlock came first, introduced in 1953. Identifiable by two dots below the crown, the Twinlock winding crown has two sealed zones, one inside the tube and one inside the crown, to keep water out up to a depth of 100 meters.

The Triplock winding crown was introduced in 1970 and contains a third sealed zone inside the crown that increases water resistance to depths of up to 3,900 meters on the Rolex Deepsea model. The Submariner and Sea-Dweller models are also equipped with Triplock winding crowns.

While the winding crown may not be a deciding factor when purchasing a Rolex, it serves an important purpose in the hermetic seal of the Oyster case that the watchmaker has been perfecting for almost a century.


Rolex Debuts Explorer II Model in 1971

Rolex released the Explorer II model in 1971, almost twenty years after its predecessor. Although it shared a name with the Explorer, this wristwatch resembled the GMT-Master much more in terms of function and style - it actually used the same movement as the GMT-Master, either a calibre 1570 or 1575.
First Rolex Explorer Model, 1971 (photo: Rolex)
This professional wristwatch was originally marketed for scientists and explorers, such as speleologists, who easily lost track of day and night while performing research in caves. The original Explorer II had a 40mm case with a 24 hour fixed bezel and an orange 24 hour hand, as shown in the photo above.

For its 40th anniversary in 2011, the Explorer II was reintroduced with a 42mm case and a new 3187 movement. However, this model has changed very little through the years. The current model, shown below, is made with Rolex's 904l stainless steel alloy with a satin finish. It is available with a black dial and orange 24 hour hand, just like the original and the famed Steve McQueen version of the Explorer II.

photo of current Rolex Explorer II model
Rolex Explorer II (photo: Rolex)
The Explorer II is often overlooked amidst the fanfare that surrounds the more popular Rolex models, such as the Submariner and Daytona. However, its longevity on the market and consistent design and functionality makes it a classic.


Rolex 3135 Movement

Introduced in 1988 to replace the 3035 movement, Rolex calibre 3135 is used in more of their wristwatch models than any other movement. The self-winding mechanical movement powers the Submariner Date, Deepsea Sea-Dweller, Yacht-Master and Datejust 36mm.

photo of rolex calibre 3135 movement
Rolex's 3135 Movement (photo: Rolex)
Developed and manufactured entirely by Rolex, the 3135 movement measures 28.5 mm in diameter with a height of 6 mm. It is equipped with 31 jewels, a Perpetual rotor and Rolex's patented blue Parachrom hairspring, making it ten times more precise than other mechanical watch movements. A Rolex overcoil ensures its regularity regardless of its position and it has a power reserve of approximately 48 hours.

This impressive movement has been around for so long because of its superior design and construction. Over the years, it has incorporated other Rolex innovations, like the blue Parachrom hairspring, to keep it up to date. It is a large movement, which allows Rolex to fit it with the most efficient and effective mechanical parts they manufacture.

The movement's frequency of 28,800 beats per hour (bph) can be appreciated in the YouTube video below. Hearing the sound of the movement while watching its parts interact is very soothing. Perhaps getting a glimpse of the heart of the watch is the reason the skeleton watch trend has taken such a strong hold over the past few years.


Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 2016

The Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 2016 began on April 9, 2016 at the red clay courts of the Monte-Carlo Country Club in the Principality of Monaco. Part of the ATP World Tour, the tournament will welcome the top ranked mens singles players including Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

arial photo of Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters at Monte-Carlo Country Club
Monte-Carlo Country Club (photo: montecarlotennismasters.com)
Day one saw success for Frenchman Gilles Simon, currently ranked 18th in the world, who will be moving on in the tournament. Djokovic made history last year with his Monte-Carlo win and will likely be up against Roger Federer in the final on April 17, barring any missteps this week. Federer will be playing his first tournament since receiving knee surgery after the Australian Open earlier this year.

Rolex joined the Association of Tennis Professional's World Tour in 2013 as a global partner. Visit the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters official website for additional information about the tournament. Check out the ATP World Tour rankings on their site and stay up to date on scores.


photograph of Frenchman Gilles Simon at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 2016
Gilles Simon at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 2016 (photo: montecarlotennismasters.com)

Rolex Model Comparison: Submariner Date Vs Deepsea Sea-Dweller

photo of Rolex Submariner Date (left) and Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller (right) side by side
Rolex Submariner Date (left) and Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller (right)
If you're on the market for a dive watch and have decided on a Rolex but can't decide between the Submariner or Deepsea models, there are a few notable differences that may help you make your decision. The Submariner Date (reference# 116610 LN) was introduced in the 1950s and has become one of the watchmaker's most ubiquitous models to this day. The Deepsea model (reference # 116660) is their newest dive watch, appearing on the market in 2008. Both models, photographed above side by side, are made using Rolex's 904l stainless steel and Cerachrom ceramic on the bezel. 

photo of Cases of Deepsea (left) and Submariner (right) Side by Side
Cases of Deepsea (left) and Submariner (right) Side by Side
The first and most notable difference between the Submariner and Deepsea is the size of the case. The Submariner Date features a 40mm case while the Deepsea's case measures 44mm. The Deepsea model features Rolex's Ringlock System case architecture, giving it a slightly domed 5.5 mm-thick sapphire crystal. In the photo above with the cases side by side, you can see the significant difference in case thickness between the Deepsea (left) and Submariner (right). The closeup below shows the Deepsea on top of the Sub. Both models are equipped with Triplock winding crowns.

picture of Cases of rolex Deepsea and Submariner One on Top of the Other
Cases of Deepsea and Submariner One on Top of the Other 
Another distinguishing factor between these models is the Cyclops magnifying lens affixed to the Submariner Date's sapphire crystal, which is noticeably absent on the Deepsea. The Helium Escape Valve, exclusive to the Deepsea, allows the timepiece to be submerged up to 3,900 meters, while the Submariner Date has a depth rating of 300 meters. The ceramic bezels on both models have the same functionality, but the Deepsea has hash marks that go around the entire bezel, as shown in the photo below (Deepsea on right). 

picture of Dials of rolex Submariner (left) and Deepsea (right) Side by Side
Dials of Submariner (left) and Deepsea (right) Side by Side
Both the Submariner Date and Deepsea Sea-Dweller are equipped with 3135 movements. Caliber 3135 is a self-winding mechanical movement developed entirely in-house by Rolex. It is equipped with their patented blue Parachrom hairspring and has a power reserve of 48 hours.

picture of Clasps of rolex Submariner (left) and Deepsea (right)
Clasps of Submariner (left) and Deepsea (right)
Both models are equipped with Rolex's Glidelock Extension system, but the rack of the Deepsea Glidelock System (shown on the right in the photo above) lifts so that you can adjust the size of the watch without taking it off. The Deepsea model also comes with a Fliplock extension link that extends the bracelet by an additional 26mm, as shown in the photo below with the Deepsea's fully extended Oyster bracelet below the Submariner's Oyster bracelet. 

picture of Fully Extended Bracelets of rolex Submariner (top) and Deepsea (bottom)
Fully Extended Bracelets of Submariner (top) and Deepsea (bottom)
The suggested retail price for the Submariner Date (ref# 116610 LN) is 8,100 Swiss Francs, or approximately $8,503 US based on the current exchange rate. The Deepsea Sea-Dweller (ref# 116660) goes for 11,500 Swiss Francs, or approximately $12,072 US. 

Wrist Shot of rolex Deepsea (left) and Submariner (right) Side by Side
Wrist Shot of Deepsea (left) and Submariner (right) Side by Side
Aside from differences in size and price, the Submariner Date and Deepsea are very similar. It is hard to tell the difference between the two without looking at them side by side. For most people, the decision comes down to comfort and style. 

The Deepsea's size and additional features are appealing to those who actually spend time underwater, but it can feel bulky on smaller wrists and the weight of the case can take some getting used to. The Submariner Date is sleek and the Cyclops lens gives it a classic Rolex look, however, wearing such a recognizable timepiece doesn't appeal to everyone.  

Ultimately, the best way to decide between these two dive watches is to experience how they look and feel on your wrist. To find a Rolex Authorized Dealer near you, check out the store locator on their official website.


Rolex Daytona Model Introduced in 1963

The Cosmograph Daytona is one of the most popular Rolex models, with long waiting lists to purchase their 2016 model that debuted at Baselworld 2016. The Daytona was introduced in 1963, just a year after Rolex started their relationship with Daytona International Speedway as official timekeeper.

1962 3 Hour Daytona Continental Race Finish (photo: ISC Archives)

The watchmaker had been involved with racing for years before they began their association with Daytona. Land-speed record breaker Sir Malcolm Campbell was featured in Rolex ads in the 1930s and Rolex had been developing 'Pre-Daytona' chronographs since 1955. The chronographs they manufactured from 1955 to 1961 were met with little fanfare and were discontinued before the development of the first Daytona model, pictured below, in 1963. 
First Rolex Daytona Model, 1963 (photo: Rolex)
In the early 1970s, actor and race car driver Paul Newman began wearing the Daytona and became inextricably connected with the Rolex model ever since. Daytona models with 'Paul Newman' dials were not extremely popular at the time, but later the Paul Newman became a favorite for collectors due to their rarity and interesting art deco design features. 

The introduction of the tachymetric graduated bezel on this model made it a coveted tool for professional endurance race drivers at the time of its introduction to the market. While the majority of people on the waiting list for the 2016 model can use their smart phones to keep time, the spirit and style of the race watch makes it a coveted timepiece to this day.


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