Watches are more than just time-tellers, and almost everyone has a mobile phone for that. A classic watch can be a meaningful piece of jewellery passed on from father to son. It can also complement a suit for a luxurious look. Some famous vintage watches have been there for more than a century. So, in the text below, you can explore some of the most renowned brands in the world and find out how they became what they are today.
A 24-year-old Hans Wilsdorf founded Rolex in 1905. He always perceived that wrist watches would soon be the trend overtaking pocket watches, which were more superior at the time. His company was in London before moving to Geneva in 1919. Watches made by this company had iconic names such as the Air-King, which keeps track of time when flying, the Daytona which tracks time during auto racing, and the Submariner used as a diver watch.
In 1927, Rolex had one of the best marketing ideas where they partnered with a young female marathon swimmer. Mercedes Gleitze swam for 10 hours in the cold English Channel wearing the new Oyster watch and proving the superiority of its water resistance. Due to this, both Rolex and the swimmer found themselves on the front page of a newspaper ad. Hans managed to make the brand successful by getting endorsements from athletes and celebrities.
Rolex does not produce the most expensive watches in the world, so you may be left wondering, how is Rolex the king of watches? It is a classic luxury watch for the common man with an attractive crown logo, and the quality is guaranteed.
Originally, Omega was intended for use in motorsport and other sporting events when it was first produced in 1957. No one expected it to be worn on the moon. It was easy to read and had a streamlined appearance.
In 1962, it travelled to space on the wrist of Wally Schira during an American Mercury space mission. Its partnership with NASA was then born and still goes on today. The ST105.012 is the model that was worn by Buzz Aldrin as he walked the moon. It is much identical to the version on sale today.
In 1875, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet (AP) decided to work together to develop watches equipped with some complex mechanisms that you will still find today. They passed away in 1918 and 1919, respectively, and their company continued to grow. They created pocket watches until 1946 when they introduced the thinnest wristwatch.
In the 1970s, quartz watches emerged, causing many watch companies to collapse due to the reduction of sales, and Audemars Piguet was among the affected. These watches were cheap and took the world by surprise. However, one executive from AP asked Gerald Genta, a watch designer, to come up with a unique steel sports watch that was new and waterproof. That same night, Genta sketched the Royal Oak that turned AP into one of the most successful brands in the world.
The Royal Oak was released in 1972 as the first luxury stainless steel watch. It was more expensive than Patek Philippe pieces made out of gold and several Rolexes made of steel. Their first customer was the famous Shah of Iran. Influential customers helped market this luxury sports watch, and it took three years to sell 100 pieces. The Royal Oak became their flagship product, which now comes in different versions.