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.
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.
according to bornrich.com this is the most expensive Rolex watch ever sold
(at least up to May 2011) – it was sold for $1.16 million
Much like yourself, finding the meaning of “Rolex” proves to be quite the challenge. I’ve read multiple various theories:
“According to Wilsdorf “Rolex” was the sound the watches made as they were wound.
By 1908 Wisdorf’s firm became one of the leading watch companies in the UK. It was that year that he coined the name Rolex. Rather than immortalising his own name on the watch face as many other Swiss watchmakers had done, Wilsdorf made one up. It is said (though it has never been confirmed) that he chose “Rolex” by drawing this name from the French phrase ‘Horlogerie Exquise’ (exquisite watchmaking). Whether this story is true or not, the fact is that it would grow to become one of the most recognised brands of all time.
I guess no one really knows for certain!
Sorry…wrong…the Greek word for time piece going back to ancient Gk is ROLEI (pronounced rolauw) the X was added to close the sound.
THS IS WORLD FAMOUS BRAND NAME ROLEX
This is good stuff. I am really satisfied with the meaning gotten from the article plus its nice getting a little history of rolex. I hope its ok to name my first son, Rolex…. or is it?
I do know that in Spanish reloj, means clock and both Rolex and reloj sound a little similar so maybe somewhere in the word there is a root.
Braxton, It’s a long naming shot but it could be…
Thank you for sharing “Reloj”.
Spanish is the most spoken language in the world after all, so it’s possible.
The word comes from the Greek Roloi. Meaning time instrument – Spanish, Gk, Russian and even Italian have a number of common latin root words and similar words. Proto Indo-European languages share common root words, especially Gk and Spanish. Spanish went Italic/Latin and Gk Hellenic.
By the way I have posted your article Name origin of the famous Rolex luxury watches brand on my Blog under Cellini Prince Informative Sources. And I totally agree with you that
“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”
I’ve heard that Rolexes actually are not as respected as some may think in the watch world, due to their ability to keep accurate time over a long period of time. I always love the look and status symbol factor though!
The word horology is a Greek word. It’s root is ORA sometimes ORO meaning time. The Ancient and transfixed word to modern Greek for clock (originally water based) is Roloi and from this (like many Spanish and English words) can be found. It’s too much of a coincidence that the Greek word for clock and watch is so close to the concept of time and hence Rolex. The ex ending simplifies the Gk and makes pronunciation universal as opposed to an oi ending.
It is said that when his son Alex was lost in
a blizzard, he was rescued by a shephard’s boy
named Roland. He combined the teo names
And came up with ROLEX to immortalize both
Pretty cool story. It’s interesting how a household name like Rolex was just a completely made up word. Thanks for sharing!
For Rolex being such an exlusive brand, i would think people who take their time to react on such topic have at least a little bit of an ability to think.
But he im just a student reading this to find as much information about the brand as possible so what does it matter.
I was told by someone who said they worked for Rolex at one time, that Rolex is named as such because the second hand “rolls”, as opposed to a second hand that ticks.
the rolex is a widespread brand appreciated by everyone, one of the first actors to wear it was pawl newman, for this reason various rolex lines were dedicated in honor of the famous actor.
Hmmm, I heard something very different. It seems that upon closing an exceptional deal, Wilsdorf suggested that Davis ROLl an EXceptional blunt to celebrate the event. After several tokes and a box or Oreos the name ROLEX was born. But, I could be wrong.
What do the initials ‘C-I’ stand for on the Rolex USA stainless link bracelets ? And are they ‘authentic’ Rolex bracelets ?
Greek: Roloi = watch
Rolex comes feom the Spanish word for watch Reloj the “j” being replaced by and “x” like as is the case when Mejico is written in English as Mexico
Rol also the Biggest name in Quality cars Rolls Royce also ROyaLty, the EX was EXquisite and also Roman numeral for 10 which had a significance to hans ,