Rolex Cerachrom Bezel, manufacturing process
About Rolex

Here's what you need to know about the renowned manufacturer

Rolex in numbers

How much is the most expensive Rolex, how many employees does the corporation have and how many watches are produced there? Interesting facts and figures on the most famous watch manufacturer in the world.


 6000 – 7000

That’s the estimated number of employees in the company. In Biel alone, where Rolex manufactures its mechanisms, over 2,000 employees represent 100 different professions.

Rolex Biel

Inaugurated in 2012, the production site in Biel takes up 92,000 square meters (©Rolex)


2004

Only now is Rolex Geneva taking over the Manufacture des Montres Rolex SA in Biel. Founded in 1878 by Jean and Anna Maria Aegler and specialised in precision watch movements, the company received its first major order in 1905 for movements from Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, who was still based in London at the time. Almost 15 years later, the company moved to Geneva and produced housings for the Aegler factories, which had been housed in a new factory building with a large Rolex lettering since 1914. For decades Rolex Geneva and Rolex Biel were in the hands of different owners, Rolex Geneva became a foundation after the death of Hans Wilsdorf and Rolex Biel continued to belong to the descendants of the Aegler-Borer family. Until 2004, since then there is only the “Rolex SA”.


 105,000 euros

That is (approximately) the cost of the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40, in platinum, with a diamond bezel and diamond dial. And that’s pretty much the most expensive watch the company has in its regular range. Not infrequently however, Rolex produces extravagant special models which could be priced higher…

Rolex Day-Date 40 diamonds

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40, in platinum, with diamond bezel and diamond dial (©Rolex)


0.02 millimeter

This is the maximum deviation that Rolex tolerates when placing gemstones. For example, in order to perfectly accentuate the play of colours and the reflections of the 46 diamonds on the bezel of a Datejust 31, the handles of the Rolex stone bezels must be so precise that the stones miss their ideal position by no more than a quarter the thickness of a human hair…

Rolex Datejust 31 278285rbr

The price of this Datejust 31 in Everose Gold with diamond bezel is 37,350Euros (©Rolex)


3,900 meters

The Rolex Deepsea with D-Blue dial is guaranteed waterproof to this depth – making it the most water-resistant (commercially available) model in the Rolex range

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea 116660b

The Reference 116660 costs 11,650 euros (©Rolex)


5.5 millimeters

That’s the thickness of the sapphire glass of the Deepsea! In fact, Rolex has even calculated and tested the watch to a depth of 4,900 meters. The curved glass of the experimental Deepsea Challenge, which in 2012 accompanied filmmaker James Cameron on his extreme dive in the Mariana Trench, is even 14.3 millimeters thick.

Rolex Deepsea Challenge Glass

More than 13 tons weigh on the glass at the specified depth of 12,000 meters (©Rolex)


5

Number of letters in “R-O-L-E-X” … that’s obvious, but pretty much the only thing you know for sure about the origin of the brand name. “It should be five letters, nice to look at on the dial and sound as good as possible in all languages ​​…” are said to have been the basic criteria for Hans Wilsdorf. That “Rolex” is derived from “horlogerie exquisite” or “reloj excelente”, is often claimed – but has not been proven. And: The Rolex crown has 5 points! But that was not added until the 40s …

Rolex Hans Wilsdorf young

Hans Wilsdorf, born in 1881 in Kulmbach in northern Bavaria, was looking for the right company name for a long time (©Rolex)


1905

In that year, Hans Wilsdorf, aged 24, founded Wilsdorf & Davis in London. The business idea was to import Swiss watches to the UK.

Rolex Wilsdorf-Davis nameplate 1905

Probably due to a lack of money, Hans Wilsdorf took partner James Davis on board (©Rolex)


 1908

H. Wilsdorf officially registers the brand name Rolex. He is said to have placed great importance on the naming- even though at that time the name of the seller and not of the manufacturer was usually displayed on the dial of a watch.

Rolex original certificate 1908

The original Rolex certificate, 1908 (©Rolex)


3.8 billion euros

Estimated annual sales in 2013 – according to reports a financial record year for Rolex. Incidentally the first time in a long while that the company grants insight here. Business figures are usually kept secret at Rolex.

Rolex World Headquarters Geneva

Rolex headquarters in Geneva (©Rolex)


13 tons

Rolex processes that much gold approximately every year – making it the largest gold consumer in Switzerland.

Rolex gold

Rolex manufactures all its alloys itself (©Rolex)


4

Number of Rolex sites, around Geneva and in Biel. The company is located in Acacias/Geneva, where research and development, final assembly and quality control also take place. Bracelets, casings and various gold components are produced in Plan-les-Ouates/Geneva. Dial manufacturing and the jewelery department are situated in the Chêne-Bourg/Geneva branch. The production of all Rolex mechanisms takes place in Biel.

Rolex Daytona dial workshop

In Chêne-Bourg, the crown is added to the dial (©Rolex)


8

The production of the ultra-modern ceramic bezels, which Rolex introduced in 2005 with the GMT-Master 2 in yellow gold and for which the trademark “Cerachrom” was registered two years later, includes the production of the highly modern work steps.

Rolex Cerachrom Bezel, manufacturing process

From the powdery basic preparations to the finished ceramic bezel (©Rolex)

The work steps are: 1.Preparation of the basic preparation, 2nd injection moulding, 3rd debinding, 4th impregnation (with two-colour number discs), 5th sintering, 6th mechanical precision processing, 7th precious metal application, 8th polishing

Here you can see an overview of all current models of the GMT-Master 2!


1919

Rolex moves to Geneva, known internationally as the center of the art of watchmaking. In 1920, the company Montres Rolex S.A. is entered in the commercial registry of the city.

Rolex Geneva

Rolex has been at home in Geneva for almost 100 years (©Rolex)


275 g

The approximate weight of the current Rolex Yacht-Master 2 in white gold, with platinum bezel. This makes it a good 20 grams heavier than the Yacht-Master 2 in yellow gold first presented in 2007 … and the heaviest serial Rolex ever.

Rolex Yacht-Master 2, 2007

The model presented in 2007 still had a diameter of nearly 43 millimeters instead of the current 44mm (©Rolex)


800,000

The number of watches produced at Rolex every year (which is only known because Rolex has its movements certified by the official Swiss chronometer control center, COSC, and their numbers are public). To be added are about 200,000 watches by Rolex sister company Tudor.

Rolex Plan les Quates workshop

A look into the workshop in Plan-les-Ouates, in Geneva (©Rolex)


$5,060,427

That is the sum that the Rolex 6062 “Bao Dai” achieved at auction by Phillips in May 2017 in Geneva, which made her the most expensive, ever auctioned Rolex at that time


4,500 euros

Is the price for the cheapest Rolex in the range, the Oyster Perpetual 26.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 26 176200b

Oyster Perpetual 26, Ref. 176200 (©Rolex)


10,916 meters

That depth is the deepest known spot of the earth’s surface in the Mariana Trench. In 1960, Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard dived to this incredible depth with the experimental deep-sea submarine Trieste. An experimental Rolex Deep Sea Special designed for this purpose was located on the outer wall of the submarine and survived the dive unscathed!

Rolex Deep-Sea Special 1960

Rolex Deep Sea Special, 1960 (©Rolex)


4 hours and 43 minutes

That’s how long Piccard and Walsh needed on their spectacular dive to reach the record depth of 10,916 meters.

Bathyskaph Trieste 1960

With the Bathyskaph Trieste they dived to a few meters above the actual deepest point of the sea (©Rolex)


35 millimeters

The enormous overall height of the Deep-Sea Special from 1960. It survived the extreme dive to a depth of almost eleven kilometres undamaged, but with its massive, semi-circular glass it would still be unbearable even today… despite all the trends towards larger watches.

Rolex Deep Sea Special 1960

An extreme head-heaviness might provide for a rather unbalanced stretcher-feeling… (©Rolex)


500,000 to 600,000

Rolex is said to have sold that many watches in 2015

Rolex Plan les Quates logo

Business figures are rarely published by Rolex (©Rolex)


4.7 billion US dollars

According to Wikipedia, the turnover of Rolex in 2016. In the meantime, the 5 billion mark has probably already been left behind.


13%

According to a report by “Finanz und Wirtschaft” in 2016, this was Rolex’s global market share. This put the company in third place, behind Richemont with 16% and the Swatch Group with 19%. The first three places were firmly in the hands of the Swiss watch industry, with Fossil (USA) in fourth place with 6%, followed by the French luxury group LVMH with 4%.

Rolex Headquarters Geneva

Rolex Headquarters Geneva (©Rolex)


750,000 calibers

The approximate number of mechanisms produced annually in Champs-de-Boujean. In 2012, on the outskirts of Biel, Rolex officially inaugurated the new production facility, which now unites the complete production of mechanisms including assembly and quality control.

The high quality components of the perpetual rotor before assembly (©Rolex)

Detailed information on the Rolex movements currently in use can be found here!


10 litres oil

Approximately the same amount is consumed annually by Rolex to lubricate its movements, both newly produced and those under maintenance. Tiny droplets, for example, are applied to each tooth of the anchor wheel, one of about 200 points in the movements that have to be lubricated. Five different types of greases and oils are used for each Caliber, with Rolex producing some of the lubricants itself and sourcing others from suppliers who, however, use special Rolex formulations. As low as the total consumption, i.e. approx. 10 litres per year, may seem, it is as important as it is. Some components of the high-performance movements are exposed to loads that are roughly equivalent in size to what a railway track has to withstand.

Rolex Workshop, Caliber

In order for it to run smoothly, lubrication must also be provided here! (©Rolex)


20 centimeters

This is how long the Parachrom spiral is in the unwound state. The innovative hairspring, introduced in 2000, in combination with the balance wheel provides the regular vibrations that are the foundation for the high precision that Rolex watches can boast of. It is not easy to enable the oscillator to oscillate without interference. Whether temperature fluctuations, strong movements, or magnetic interferences, the small metal components are exposed to various disturbances in everyday life. An exclusive alloy of niobium, zirconium and oxygen is the result of years of research and is responsible for the enormous resistance of the small Parachrome spiral with its characteristic blue colour. It measures hardly one centimeter rolled up and is finer than a hair.

Rolex Balance Wheel

Parachrome hairspring and balance wheel (©Rolex)


2.400 °C

At this temperature, the vacuum melting of niobium and zirconium is performed in the specially designed electron beam melting furnace. The desired alloy is then produced by adding the exact amount of oxygen. The first result is a 30cm long and 10mm thick rod, from which a wire of 3km length and 0.1mm diameter is produced by mechanical deformation. Cut into 20 cm pieces, wound into a spiral and hardened at high temperatures in a vacuum to retain its shape, the metal strip of the Parachrom spiral has an approximate rectangular cross-section of 50 micrometers in thickness and 150 micrometers in width.

Rolex Parachrom Hairspring

The oscillator, clock of the mechanical watch (©Rolex)


14 days

Duration of the test, in which the accuracy of the gold watch submitted by Hans Wilsdorf to the Biel watchmaking school in 1910 was examined. It was the first wristwatch in the world to receive a “Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision”.

Rolex first precision certificate 1910

The Rolex with lever escapement was the first wristwatch to receive this precision rate certificate (©Rolex)


$150

That’s how much the Rolex Submariner cost in the mid 1950s… today it’s 6,900€ (No Date), respectively 7,850€ (Submariner Date)

First Rolex Submariner 1953

If you could just buy a few more … 1953 Submariner (©Rolex)

Find out more about the price development of the Rolex Submariner here!


290 items

The Caliber 4130, developed exclusively for the Cosmograph Daytona by Rolex, has been driving the legendary racing chronograph since the year 2000. Consisting of only 290 individual parts – significantly fewer than a standard chronograph movement – this technical masterpiece impresses with its performance features as well as its simplicity.

Rolex Daytona movement 4130

With the Caliber 4130, the Cosmograph Daytona finally got its own movement (©Rolex)

More information about the Caliber 4130 can be found here!


$17,752,500

This is the record price for which the legendary Reference 6239; the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona by Paul Newman; was auctioned on October 26, 2017, making it currently the most expensive watch in the world.


1926

Rolex patented a wristwatch with screw-down crown – the famous Oyster. That was the starting point for the history of the diver’s watch.

Rolex first Oyster octagonal 1926

The octagonal Rolex Oyster from 1926: the first waterproof wristwatch, thanks to its screw-down crown (©Rolex)


Constantly updated article, originally posted in March 2018



Also interesting...