A History of Vintage Rolex Watches
The Rolex Watch company was founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf. In 1910, Rolex became the first company ever to receive the chronometer certificate. The watches initially were prone to letting in dust and humidity and the firm worked hard to improve the strength of their timepieces. In 1926, it immersed a watch in water for three weeks to see if they could really produce a water proof watch and to prove their point, Mercedes Glietze swam the English Channel wearing a Rolex watch. The company had actually found a solution to making a watch water tight by inventing a screw down crown (button) . It was the start of Rolex becoming known for the production of watches to unheard of depths in water.
However, Rolex did not just confine themselves to sports oriented watch and in 1931 they were granted the patent for the Perpetual mechanism. In 1945 the Rolex Datejust became the first watch with a date display on the face, and their name famous bulging glass piece over the date, known as the ‘cyclopse’. Indeed in 1956 they went a stage further by adding a day as well.
Rolex have gone on to produce some of the most iconic watches of all time, many highly collectable and rare. We will feature a famous Rolex on this site in the future, but for the time being we are picking out one famous name in the world of Rolex, one Jean Claude Killy.
Killy was the greatest ski racer of his day, his run in the 68 Olympics is legendary, winning three Alpine skiing medals. It is believed that on that day he was wearing a Rolex Chronograph, the big date version 6236. However whilst not proven he wore that watch, he featured in many Rolex ads over the years and has been a Board member of the company for 40+ years. However the 6236 was one of the few Rolex’s to actually figure both full date and chronograph function. They manufactured five models known as ‘The Killy’ until the mid 60s.
These watches are very much the predecessor of the famous Daytona, but they are actually more complicated than a typical chronograph. They have the three register elements, each has three different elements to the date function, wheels for day and month, the Big Date elements and a central hand for the date of the month, all to fit inside a 36mm diameter case! If you want to buy a ‘Killy’, may cost you in the region of £200,000, more more likely to be nearer £4-600,000!