The roots of Rolex’s affinity for sports and human achievement can be traced back to the pioneering origins of the company. When founder Hans Wilsdorf set up his watchmaking firm, he was influenced by the swift changes sweeping through society at the beginning of the 20th century. In an era when wristwatches were still regarded as fragile items of apparel, he was determined to create a wristwatch that would be robust, precise and reliable, adapted to ever more active lifestyles.
In 1910, a Rolex wristwatch obtained the first certificate ever granted to such a watch by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne, Switzerland. In 1926, Rolex invented the Rolex Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch in the world, thanks to a case equipped with an ingenious patented system consisting of a screw-down bezel, case back and winding crown. To prove his invention, Hans Wilsdorf equipped Mercedes Gleitze with an Oyster when she swam the English Channel a year later. The Rolex watch emerged from more than 10hours in the water in perfect working condition, and the young Englishwoman effectively became the brand’s first Testimonee – a witness to the watch’s uncompromised performance.
In 1931, Rolex invented the first wristwatch self-winding system with a free rotor, called the perpetual rotor, the precursor of contemporary self-winding systems. With Hans Wilsdorf at the helm, Rolex continued to use the world as a real-life proving ground for the Oyster, demonstrating time and again its reliability in the most extreme conditions, on land, in the air, in the depths of the ocean or on the tallest peaks. By being associated with so many achievements, Rolex became the trusted reference for chronometric precision, robustness and reliability around the world.
Meanwhile, Rolex evolved, as did its product, in a constant pursuit of perfection. As part of this evolution, Rolex watches – made from only the highest quality materials and designed by the industry’s best – became symbols of elegance and prestige.
Rolex and Equestrianism
As the crown in equestrianism for over 50 years, Rolex is a major force at play behind the sport’s finest events, riders and organizations. Whether supporting leading athletes such as Rodrigo Pessoa and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum or maintaining tradition and excellence with the historic CHIO Aachen in Germany or the newly established Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Rolex has cultivated a privileged relationship with the elite world of equestrian sports.
Rolex’s association with equestrianism started from an alliance with legendary show jumper Pat Smythe (Patricia Rosemary Smythe), who became the brand’s first equestrian Testimonee in 1957. Since that auspicious partnership, Rolex’s involvement in equestrian sport has increased significantly.
Today, Rolex sponsors major international equestrian events in distinct disciplines. Most recently, the brand partnered the Rolex Grand slam of show Jumping, a global initiative created in 2013 by three of the world’s greatest equestrian shows: CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament and CHI Geneva. Considered by the sport to be the ultimate show jumping challenge, the Rolex Grand Slam rewards the rider who wins the Grand Prix at each show in succession. As a long-term partner to all three of these prestigious events, Rolex’s decision to support the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping was a natural progression.
Sponsored by Rolex since 1999, the World Equestrian Festival, CHIO Aachen attracts over 360,000 passionate supporters during ten days of competition – a record attendance among equestrian events. CHIO Aachen offers competition in five disciplines. The focal point of the show, the Rolex Grand Prix, has been won by some of the most famous names in the sport, including Nelson Pessoa, his son Rodrigo Pessoa, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Eric Lamaze.
Rolex has been affiliated with the CSIO spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Calgary, Canada since 1989. Featuring the world’s best horses and riders, the event was named number one in the world for international show jumping in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Since 1996, Rolex has also been the Presenting Sponsor of CHI Geneva, a pre-eminent jumping competition currently in its 53rd edition. Voted in 2013 the best equestrian event in the world for the second time by the members of the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC), the Geneva International Horse Show has also been deemed the best indoor competition on four different occasions. This show brings together an extraordinary line-up of titled riders in the world’s largest indoor equestrian arena and offers four days of intense action.
Since 2002, Rolex has sponsored the World Equestrian Games. This first-class event takes place every four years at a different venue, attracting the top riders in jumping, dressage, eventing, endurance, vaulting, driving, reining and Para-equestrian sport, the eight disciplines officially recognized by the sport’s governing body. The next Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will take place in Normandy, France in 2014.
Rolex has been Title Sponsor, since 2001, of the Rolex IJRC top 10 Final– a highlight on the equestrian calendar that assembles the 10 highest ranked riders in the world – as well as a major supporter of the biennial European Championships, an event which brings together Europe’s best equestrian pairs.
In 2012, Rolex partnered the Palm Beach international Center. Through this relationship, the brand became Official Timepiece of the Winter Equestrian Festival, which brings together some 6,000 horses and 2,000riders from around 30countries for several weeks of international competition in Wellington, Florida (US).
Starting in 2014, Rolex breathes new life into its partnership with indoor Brabant (Netherlands). Main sponsor of the show and title sponsor of the Grand Prix, Rolex offers this emblematic event on Dutch turf the opportunity to strengthen its position on the international show jumping circuit.
Furthermore, Rolex sponsors three legendary competitions on the Eventing calendar, as Title Sponsor of the Rolex Kentucky three Day Event and Official Timepiece for the Badminton and Burghley Horse Trials. The brand actively supports excellence in the discipline through the Rolex Grand slam of Eventing– an award presented to the rider who wins consecutively at these three prestigious and challenging yearly events.
Behind the scenes, Rolex participates in the development of equitation through its patronage of the Jumping owners Club, an organization that brings together and supports the world’s leading horse owners involved in the discipline. The brand also partners the international Jumping riders Club; a group comprised of the top-ranked riders that promotes the image of jumping in equestrian sport and organizes the Rolex IJRC Top 10Final.
Rolex has also cultivated close relationships with equestrianism’s exceptional competitors, counting among its Testimonees Brazilian show jumper Rodrigo Pessoa, an Olympic and World Championship gold medal list; German rider of American origin Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, the first woman to be ranked World No. 1 in jumping and three-time winner of the Rolex World Cup™ Final; Canada’s Eric Lamaze who won a gold medal in the individual show jumping event in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and became World No. 1for the first time in 2009; European jumping champion Kevin Staut, from France, who won a team silver medal at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky; and Swiss rider Steve Guerdat, the individual jumping gold-medallist at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
In Eventing, Rolex supports British equestrian Zara Phillips, team silver medal winner at the 2012 London Olympics and the individual champion in 2006at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen; and Britain’s Pippa Funnell, the first and only rider ever to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. And in dressage, Rolex Testimonee Isabell Werth– world record holder for most titles won in her discipline – has the unique honour of having represented Germany at four Olympic Games (1992, 1996, 2000 and 2008), winning team and individual medals at each.
Rolex and Golf
Rolex is a major force at play behind the finest events, players and organizations in golf, encouraging the development of the game worldwide.
As the most elite and trusted timekeeper of the day, known for having changed the world of watchmaking, it was only logical that Rolex should partner Arnold Palmerin 1967. This charismatic American holds a special place in golf legend, thanks as much to his natural talent as a player and his many victories on the course, as to his pioneering role in the history of the sport. He, along with fellow Rolex Testimonees Jack Nicklaus, record holder at 18for most major wins, and Gary Player, ranked third overall for the number of professional wins, contributed to modernizing golf and giving it a worldwide dimension. Together, they are commonly known as the “Big Three”.
Since 1967, the relationship between Rolex and golf has continuously grown and prospered thanks to the brand’s trendsetting initiative in the field of sports sponsoring. Today Rolex is golf’s leading supporter and is associated not only with the most important and prestigious entities governing the sport worldwide, but also with golf’s principal professional tours, competitions and athletes.
Men’s Golf: For over 30 years, Rolex has been the proud partner and Official Timekeeper of the open Championship, where the world’s greatest players compete for the sport’s oldest title. This prestigious tournament is organized by the R&A; golf’s governing body responsible for monitoring the official rules of Golf. The Rules, set out by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, have preserved the integrity of the sport for over 250years. Both The R&A and The Rules have longstanding partnerships with Rolex.
Rolex also partners the USGA, which is responsible for organizing the renowned U.S. open Championship. Together with The R&A, the USGA governs the game of golf worldwide, promoting and sustaining the game and acting as custodian of The Rules.
Also in the United States, Rolex supports the Masters, one of golf’s emblematic events played every year at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Like Rolex, the Masters is a classic known for its tradition al values and the only invitational tournament among golf’s majors. Alongside the majors are the Rolex sponsored team competitions. The RYDER CUP pits the United States against Europe, while the Presidents Cup is played between the United States and a team comprised of the top ranked players outside of Europe. These high profile events are unique since no prize money is awarded.
Rolex is further involved in men’s golf as Official Timekeeper of prime tournaments such as the World Golf Championships, the World Cup of Golf, the Players Championship, the Dubai World Championship and the tour Championship. In addition, Rolex is the Official Timekeeper of golf’s main tours: the PGA tour, the European tour and the Asian tour. And as part of the brand’s mission to encourage the development of this great game, Rolex also supports the most prestigious amateur events worldwide.
In addition, Rolex backs many of the sport’s best players. Besides the Big Three, Rolex counts among its Testimonees American golf legend tom Watson, as well as Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer; multiple major winners Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen; top con tenders Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer, Matteo Manassero, Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth. Rolex also sponsors former and current Ryder Cup captains Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie and José Maria Olazábal.
Women’s Golf: Rolex celebrates more than 30 years with the lPGA as its Official Timekeeper and is also a proud partner of the ladies European tour. Rolex is the Official Timekeeper of the five majors, including the newly added Evian Championship, and the Solheim Cup, the premier team event in ladies golf. Rolex also sponsors the LPGA’s top awards, such as the Rolex Player of the year and the Louise Suggs Rolex rookie of the year. Among LPGA Tour players, Rolex counts among its Testimonies legends Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. And, as a committed partner of the sport of golf, Rolex was named, in 2006, the Title Sponsor of the Rolex Women’s World Golf rankings, the first ever world rankings system for women’s golf. Driven by a passion for excellence and a great appreciation of golf, Rolex, the world’s leading Swiss watchmaker, is committed to cultivating the strong ties that bind these two prestigious worlds in their shared pursuit of perfection.
Rolex and Motor Sports
Rolex is a major force at play behind the finest events in motor sports. Whether supporting the leading motor sports series, Formula 1®; iconic endurance races, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans; or maintaining tradition with the historic Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Rolex has cultivated a privileged relationship with this fast-paced world.
Rolex sought to associate with activities that, like itself, were motivated by passion, excellence, precision and performance. Naturally, Rolex gravitated towards the world of motor sports, forming an alliance that dates back to the 1930s, when Sir Malcolm Campbell set a world land-speed record while wearing a Rolex Oyster.
In 1959, the brand partnered the Daytona International Speedway in the United States. A few years later, Rolex added the name “Daytona” to the dial of the iconic chronograph it created for racing drivers, the Cosmograph. Ever since then, the presence of the Rolex brand in automobile racing has grown steadily. Rolex has been the Title Sponsor of the Rolex 24At Daytona in Florida since 1992and Official Timepiece since 2001for the 24Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest sports car endurance race.
From 2013, Rolex is Official Timepiece of Formula 1, the pinnacle of motor sports. This long-term partnership is the culmination of the brand’s history of close ties with motor racing and speed. Since the late 1960s, Rolex has counted motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart, one of the most celebrated Formula 1drivers of the last 40years, among its family of Testimonies. Sir Jackie won three FIA Formula One World Championships (1969, 1971and 1973) and 27 Grand Prix races. He is also widely recognized for his commitment to F1driving safety during the 1970s.
Through its strong alliance with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex also proudly sponsors Danish driver Tom Kristensen, record nine-time winner of the annual endurance classic. In keeping with its spirit of pushing the limits of performance, Rolex joined the Bloodhound SSC World Land Speed Record project in 2011as the Official Timing Partner. The Bloodhound team is aiming to set a new record of 1,000 miles per hour (1,600km/h) with a cutting-edge supersonic jet- and rocket-powered car. This maintains Rolex’s longstanding presence at the frontiers of speed, stretching back to 1935 when Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the 300mile-per-hour (approximately 480km/h) barrier at the wheel of Bluebird.
Rolex also sponsors events that celebrate the beauty of historic cars rather than their racing performance. Among them is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance(US), launched in 1950to showcase the most avant-garde models of the period. Today, this prestigious competition, held annually in Pebble Beach, California, features the most striking of vintage cars. Rolex has been the Official Timekeeper since 1997. Included in this event is the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex, created to demonstrate the elegance of automobiles in motion. Rolex became Presenting Sponsor of this event in 2007.
Furthermore, Rolex is the proud sponsor of the Goodwood Revival (UK), devoted to race cars built before 1966, as well as the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (US), which brings over 600cars to California’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
Driven by a passion for excellence and a great appreciation for motor sports, Rolex, the world’s leading Swiss watchmaker, is committed to cultivating the strong ties that bind these two prestigious worlds in their shared pursuit of perfection.
Rolex and Skiing
In 1968, legendary skier Jean-Claude Killy, from France, became a Rolex Testimonee, marking the start of the brand’s association with skiing. Since then, skiing has become a vital part of the brand’s tradition, exemplified through partnerships that reflect the company’s inherent values and ethos, from heritage, reliability and trust to excellence, passion and precision.
Rolex sought to associate with activities that, like itself, were motivated by passion, excellence and precision. Naturally, Rolex gravitated toward the world of skiing, forming its first alliance with Jean-Claude Killy in 1968, the year he became a triple Olympic gold medallist at the Winter Olympics in Grenoble.
Jean-Claude Killy: An outstanding, widely admired skier, Jean-Claude Killy’s perfect technique and iron will made their mark on the history of sports. In 1966, he became double world champion, in the Downhill and Combined events, and in 1968, he took the gold medal in the Downhill, Giant Slalom and Slalom races at the Olympic Games. An undisputed legend in alpine skiing, this charismatic athlete has spent decades helping to promote the sport, occupying key positions on governing bodies. A man with a taste for hard work who has consistently sought excellence, Jean-Claude Killy is the perfect embodiment of Rolex values and remains closely affiliated with the brand to this day.
For a long time, he was the only link – albeit a strong one – between Rolex and skiing, until, in 2006, he was joined by Austrian powerhouse Hermann Maier, Swiss champion Carlo Janka, American superstar Lindsey Vonn, and rising Swiss talent Lara Gut.
Hermann Maier: With his impressive list of victories and an indomitable fighting spirit, Austrian skier Hermann Maier has a rightful place among those timeless champions whose aura reaches beyond the strict confines of their sport. He ranks among the finest alpine ski racers in history, with four overall World Cup titles (1998, 2000, 2001, 2004), two Olympic gold medals for the Super G and Giant Slalom (1998), and three World Championship titles (Downhill and Super G in 1999and Giant Slalom in 2005). A Rolex Testimonee since 2006, Hermann Maier captured 54World Cup race victories over the course of his career, leaving his tracks on the slopes forever.
Carlo JanKa: Carlo Janka has claimed his place among the next generation of world class skiers. The Swiss skier is a leading competitor thanks to natural talent coupled with exceptional mental strength. Giant slalom Olympic gold medallist in Vancouver in 2010, he also won the over all World Cup title in alpine skiing the same year. He became a Rolex Testimonee in 2010.
Lindsey Vonn: By winning her Downhill gold medal at the 2010Olympic Games in Vancouver, USskier Lindsey Vonn became the first female Olympic Downhill champion in her country’s history. That same season, she also won her third consecutive World Cup title and took home her fourth in 2012. She went on to best the record for women’s world cup points, proving that she is one of the new stars of the ski circuit. A symbol of excellence and elegance, Lindsey Vonn became a Rolex Testimonee in 2009.
Lara Gut: Born in 1991, Lara Gut appeared on the international alpine skiing scene at the age of 16and has shown promise as one of the sport’s rising talents. She won her first World Cup in 2008, in St. Moritz, becoming the youngest skier to win a World Cup Super G race. The young Swiss skier went on to win two silver medals at the 2009World Championships at Val d’Isère, France and, following time off to recuperate from an injury, has made a strong return to the slopes. Lara Gut has been a Rolex Testimonee since 2009. Rolex is at one with the skill, timing, endurance and the perpetual quest for perfection that characterize skiing and the exceptional individuals who dominate it.
Rolex and Tennis
Rolex is a major force at play behind the finest events, players and organizations in tennis. From Wimbledon and the Australian Open to Swiss phenomenon Roger Federer, Rolex has cultivated a privileged relationship with this great sport.
Rolex sought to associate with activities that, like itself, were motivated by passion, excellence and precision. Naturally, Rolex gravitated toward the world of tennis, forming an alliance that dates back to the late 1970s when the brand became the Official Timekeeper of Wimbledon. Since then, the relationship between Rolex and tennis has grown and prospered.
Wimbledon: Rolex values its longstanding partnership with Wimbledon, the world’s first lawn tennis championship, initially held at the All England Club in July 1877. The oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon has succeeded in making significant improvements to its grounds as well as the sport, while preserving its unique image and character. This perfect balance between tradition and innovation is similar to the evolution of Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual and has formed the basis for a lasting alliance between two classics.
The Australian Open: Associate Sponsor and Official Timekeeper of the Australian open, Rolex is proud of its association with this major tournament – dubbed by Rolex Testimonee and fourtime Australian Open champion Roger Federer as the “Happy Slam”. Not only is it a milestone event in the sporting calendar, but a festive mood prevails from start to finish. The first of the four annual Grand Slam tennis tournaments, it attracts a record number of tennis enthusiasts who gather to watch the world’s best players compete under Australia’s summer heat.
Rolex is Official Timekeeper of the association of tennis professionals (ATP) World Tour and its iconic championship, the ATP World tour Finals, as well as Official Timekeeper of the WTA Championships. The ATP World Tour Finals and the WTA Championships bring together the top ranking male and female singles players and doubles teams, respectively, at different venues each year for a final, end of season tournament. Glamour abounds at the Monte-Carlo Rolex masters every April when tennis’s best players compete for an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title on clay courts overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. And in Shanghai, Rolex is very proud to be the Title Sponsor of the shanghai Rolex masters. Inaugurated in 2009, it is considered the best tennis event for men in Asia. In its first five years, it was designated Masters 1000 of the Year by the ATP players, underscoring its exceptional calibre.
In addition to these, Rolex is associated with other Masters 1000 competitions, including the Mutua Madrid Open, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, the Rogers Cup in Canada and the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
Of the Masters 500 tournaments on the ATP World Tour, Rolex is also associated with the China Open in Beijing, the Dubai tennis Championship and the Rio Open in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Rolex also participates in the development of tennis through its support of the Davis Cup, organized by the International Tennis Federation, and the annual Hall of Fame tennis Championships, played on grass in Newport, Rhode Island (US), where historic players are inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Rolex Testimonees Rod Laver, Björn Borg and Chris Evert were thus honoured in 1981, 1987 and 1995, respectively.
In further patronage of tennis’ exceptional individuals, Rolex counts among its Testimonees Swiss phenomenon Roger Federer, holder of more than 300 weeks at No. 1– a record-breaking feat – winner of an unsurpassed 17 Grand Slam victories and silver medallist at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Like a Rolex watch, tennis requires absolute precision and consistency, and Federer, who has been associated with the brand since 2001, has mastered the game of tennis better than any other player of all time. The champions who play against him are the first to attest to his undeniable skill.
Rolex also stands behind Danish powerhouse Caroline Wozniacki, ranked No. 1in the WTA from October 2010 to January 2012and winner of the 2006 Wimbledon Junior Championships, in addition to champions Ana Ivanovic (Serbia), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga(France), Juan-Martin del Potro (Argentina) and Chinese player Li Na, who made both tennis and world history by becoming the first player from an Asian nation to win a singles Grand Slam title.
Rolex and Yachting
As the crown in sailing for over 50 years, Rolex is proud to be a major force at play behind yachting’s finest events, players and organizations. Whether supporting extreme challenges such as the ultra-competitive Rolex Sydney Hobart or maintaining tradition with the glamorous Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex has cultivated a privileged relationship with the elite world of yachting.
Rolex sought to associate with activities that, like itself, were motivated by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit. Naturally, Rolex gravitated toward the elite world of sailing, forming an alliance that dates back to the late 1950s. Since then, the relationship between Rolex and sailing has grown and prospered.
Today, Rolex is Title Sponsor of some 15 major international events in distinct categories. The Rolex Sydney Hobart and the biennial Rolex Fastnet race are at the forefront of the leading offshore races. Fiercely challenging and frequently subject to extreme weather conditions, these regattas are often referred to interchangeably as the Mount Everest of sailing. In a similar vein, the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship attracts the best sailors from around the word in the highest-level one-design competition organized for boat owners and their teams.
The Maxi yacht Rolex Cup is one of the highlights of the Mediterranean yachting season. Against the backdrop of the luxurious Costa Smeralda, a sizeable fleet of top-quality, technologically advanced yachts gather each September in Porto Cervo, Italy for intense competition. Porto Cervo is also the home port for the prestigious Rolex swan Cup, a favourite among those looking for an exciting contest among worthy opponents.
Off the water, Rolex participates in the development of yachting through its support of the international sailing Federation (ISAF), the sport’s governing body, and the annual ISAF Rolex World sailor of the year awards, recognizing male and female sailors who have distinguished themselves over the course of a year.
Rolex has also cultivated close relationships with the most prestigious yacht clubs around the world, including the New York Yacht Club(US), the Royal Yacht Squadron(Cowes, UK), the Yacht Club Italiano (Genoa, Italy) and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda(Porto Cervo, Italy), among others.
In patronage of yachting’s exceptional individuals, Rolex counts among its Testimonees Danish legend Paul Elvstrom, a four-time Olympic gold medallist; American yachtsman Gary Jobson, Vice President of the ISAF and the America’s Cup’s Winning Tactician in 1977; and Brazilian sailor Robert Scheidt, a two-time Olympic gold medallist who was twice named the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year.
Rolex has remained firmly committed to supporting individuals and organizations at the pinnacle of exploration, sports and the arts. The leading Swiss watchmaking brand remains faithful to the spirit of enterprise which inspired its founder, building on valued history and proven performance to innovate for ever higher standards. sponsoring is not only a vital part of the brand’s tradition, these extraordinary partnerships are also a perfect reflection of the company’s inherent values and ethos, from heritage, reliability and trust to excellence, passion and precision. Rolex is at one with the skill, timing, endurance and the perpetual quest for perfection that characterize groundbreaking exploration, the most prestigious sporting achievement and the greatest artistic performances around the world.