Contrary to what many people may think, the Rolex Oyster is not a brand line. The term Oyster refers to a waterproof feature that put Rolex ahead of the pack in the luxury watch business. If there is a single feature that gave Rolex absolute advantage over its competitors, it must be the unveiling of the waterproof Oyster model. Much as it may not seem to be a big deal today, in the 1920’s a waterproof watch was a big dream. However in 1926, Hans Wilsdorf, a marketing genius and co-founder of the Rolex SA company broke the code and patented the first ever water waterproof, dustproof watch.
The story of the oyster cannot be told without mentioning Mercedes Gleitze. She was the first Englishwoman to cross the English Channel from France to England, and an instrumental component in the marketing of the oyster. In her 1927 vindication swim across the channel, Gleitze wore a Rolex Oyster that had been provided by Wilsdorf. After swimming across the channel, Rolex turned her into a celebrity figure and used her ordeal across the icy waters of the channel to market the impermeability of the watch. The oyster was marketed as being able to defy the elements. It could withstand water, dust, heat, cold and other devastating conditions and still maintain perfect timekeeping ability.
The perpetual winding mechanism is another innovation that earned Rolex a lot of respect in the watch-making business. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual model combined ‘element defying’ qualities with an automatic winding mechanism. The perpetual winding mechanism allows the watch to maintain its superb chronometric performance. Ever since the early twentieth century, Rolex SA has come up with other beautiful watches based on the Oyster Perpetual technology. The Rolex Submariner, Deepsea, Yacht-master, Milgauss, Explorer and Daytona are just a few of the models based on this technology.
Rolex SA has defined its business model on refining the available designs rather than coming up with new timepieces. This works well to give Rolex watches a classical, timeless sophistication that is a deep part of their heritage. Furthermore, the fact that archetypes are not regularly changed gives the watches a high resale value. You can own and use a Rolex for more than five years and still sell it at a price close to the original. This is not the case with many other brands that lose value drastically.
This classical timepiece has gained a lot of popularity worldwide due to aggressive marketing. Being a luxury brand, it can only be associated with the high and mighty in society. At least four former American presidents have been known to be avid Rolex admirers. These include; Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Celebrity figures such as Bruce Willis, Usher, Martin Luther King Jr., Ellen DeGeneres and a host of other public figures have been spotted with Rolex timepieces. As a result of its association with celebrities and people in the upper echelons of society, Rolex has become a status symbol. The watch is more than a mere functional timepiece-it is an expression of your taste for finer things in life.