rolex name origin luxury brand logo design

Rolex is one of the best-known brands for luxurious wristwatches in the world. According to wiki it is also the largest one producing about 2,000 luxury watches per day. But what does rolex actually mean? Truth is – nothing. There is no word rolex in the English language, or Latin, or any other language I thought of checking (if there is a language or dialect in which this word has a meaning, please let me know so that I can add this to the article). Rolex is one of these brand names that became a byword for a product – in this case luxury watches.

But how did this happen? Back in 1905 Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis founded a company called Wilsdorf and Davis (shocking, right?). These two guys were located in London, England, but were doing business by importing movements (the internal mechanism of a watch or clock) from Switzerland and placing them in quality watch cases made by Dennison etc. The watches were initially inscribed with W&D inside the caseback.

1908 w&d rolex caseback

However, a few years passed and in 1908 H. Wilsdorf registered the trademark “Rolex”. In 1915 the Rolex Watch Company Ltd. was founded. The question here is how did Wilsdorf come up with the brand name Rolex? Wiki says that according to the book The Best of Time: Rolex Wristwatches: An Unauthorized History by Jeffrey P. Hess and James Dowling the brand name is randomly made up.

Still, the reason I wrote this article about the luxury watches is because of two suggestions for the name origin, the first one of which is not confirmed but nevertheless very interesting. According to it the naming comes from the French phrase horlogerie exquise, meaning “hoROLogical EXcellence”. What is known, however, is that Wilsdorf wanted a name that would be easily pronounced in various languages (and probably not meaning anything so that it can be original). Furthermore, it is said that according to him the word rolex sounds like the sound of a watch being wound, i.e. is an onomatopoeia.

The conclusion is this – one of the world’s best-known luxury companies is named after a word with no particular meaning. Still, Rolex is a short and easy to pronounce word that ends in X – a fricative letter which implies speed. Maybe they didn’t know it back then, but according to Steve Manning from Igor branding agency X is a sexy letter and it gives the word a sort of techie sound. Plus, there aren’t a lot of words that have an X in them that you use all the time.

1942 most expensive Rolex watch sold

according to this is the most expensive Rolex watch ever sold
(at least up to May 2011) – it was sold for $1.16 million