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rolex watch origin

Rolex Watch Origin: The Most Recognized Luxury Watch Brand

Rolex is a brand loved by collectors across the globe. It’s known for groundbreaking wristwatch movements, including watches that reached submarine depths of more than 3,000 meters and traveled long distances across the sky. Each watch is made of the best, high-quality materials, built to last a collector a lifetime.

Here, learn more about the origins of Rolex watches, as well as how you can buy or sell your own Rolex.

The Origins of Rolex Watches

Rolex is well-loved for its high-quality watches. Collectors are equally intrigued by the brand’s rich history:

  • 1902: Brother-in-laws Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis founded the Rolex brand in London, England. The duo specialized in making wristwatches from Hermann Aegler’s movements and high-quality watch cases from reputable companies, like those from Dennison.
  • 1908: Rolex officially became a registered trademark. Now the sole proprietor, Wilsdorf chose the name Rolex because he wanted something people of all origins could pronounce. Plus, he thought the name resembled the sound of a watch being wound.
  • 1910: Rolex becomes the first wristwatch brand to earn an independently ratified certificate of a chronometric performance — essentially a very high degree of excellence in timekeeping.
  • 1914: The Kew Observatory awarded the Rolex watch with a “Class A” precision certificate. This was a monumental award as it is usually given to marine chronometers, and it was the first time a London wristwatch won the award.
  • 1919: Wilsdorf moved his Rolex brand from London to Geneva because of newly imposed taxes that made metals too expensive. He chose Geneva so he could be closer to his Bienne-based suppliers.
  • 1926: The Rolex Oyster was released. This was an exciting release, as the watch was marketed as the world’s first waterproof watch.
  • 1927: A year after the Oyster release date, Wilsdorf gave famous swimmer Mercedes Gleitze the watch. Gleitze wore the watch around her neck as she swam across the English channel — and it performed perfectly afterward.
Mercedes Gleitze, circa 1930. As a professional endurance swimmer, her name was used to market Rolex’s new waterproof case, Oyster. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • 1931: The Rolex Oyster Perpetual model was released. Recognized as the first self-winding watch, the Oyster Perpetual combined the water-resistant power of the Oyster with a revolutionary automatic movement.
  • 1953: The Rolex Submariner was released. Designed for divers, the watch was guaranteed waterproof to 100 meters and featured a rotating bezel to help divers track their dive time.
  • 1955: In collaboration with Pan American Airways, the Rolex GMT-Master was released, introducing the now iconic blue and red “Pepsi” bezel. During this time in history, pilots began traveling longer and farther, now entering different time zones. The GMT-Master helped aviators tell times in different time zones. Now, it’s used by the Aviation Industry to calculate Coordinated Universal Time.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master “Pepsi” Watch, Ref. 1675. Achieved $21,250 at auction.
  • 1960: Rolex’s founder Wilsdorf passed away, leaving behind a hugely successful brand.
  • 1962: Rolex becomes the official timekeeper of the Daytona car races and launches the popular Daytona Dial a year later.
  • 1967: The Rolex Sea-Dweller was released. Rolex experienced huge success with the power of the Submariner — but Rolex wanted to triple the watch’s deep-sea abilities. The Sea-Dweller features a helium escape valve that made this goal possible.
  • 1971: The Rolex Explorer II was released. This watch model was specially crafted for spelunkers, people who explore caves. The watch features an AM and PM feature, as people underground can’t distinguish between day and night. People can also read the features in the dark.

After Wilsdorf’s death in 1960, Rolex continued producing sought-after models like the Yacht-Master, Pearlmaster, Datejust II and the Sky-Dweller. You can still shop modern Rolex watches today and find sought-after vintage designs.

famous rolex pieces

What Are the Most Famous Rolex Pieces?

Currently, Rolex offers many wristwatch styles. Some of their most famous and foundational pieces, however, are:

1. Oyster

Made in 1926, the Oyster revolutionized watchmaking. It’s recognized as the first waterproof case, strategically designed with 10 parts and sealed zones, protected against water and dust. The design enabled watch-wearers to wear their watches during various activities, including swimming.

Like other styles, the Oyster is currently available in many colors and sizes. It has two original dial colors, however — black with white gold and silver with gold accents. The watches are signed with “superlative chronometer official certified,” a tribute to Rolex’s 1910 recognition.

2. Daytona

Rolex introduced the Daytona in 1962. It’s named after the famous Florida city, home of the Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona allows racers to measure elapsed time and calculate their average speed using three subdials — small seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour counters.

The original Daytona has “Cosmograph” engraved in red under the Rolex logo. In the early 1960s, “Daytona” replaced Cosmograph, and the model continued to advance from there. Original Daytonas don’t have a date window nor engraving on the case backs. But, they do have two engravings on the sides, stating the model and serial numbers.

3. GMT-Master

In the mid-1950s, pilots began traveling longer distances across different time zones. Pan Am requested Rolex to make an aviator watch that could keep track of these different time zones.

Rolex created the GMT-Master that displayed a fourth time — Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), hence the name GMT-Master. Now, the watch displays the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), following the 1972 transition established by the Aviation Industry.

4. Day-Date

In 1956, the luxurious Day-Date Rolex made its debut. This style is the first waterproof watch with a self-winding chronometer. The Day-Date displays the full calendar day along with the date.

The Day-Date is synonymous with luxury and prestige. The watch has been through many different styles and configurations over time—changing dial colors, size and design. This Rolex timepiece has been popularized by celebrities, politicians, CEOs and other high-profile individuals. Most famously, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, an avid watch enthusiast, often wore his Rolex Day-Date during his presidency and gifted them throughout his life, and now the watch is more widely referred to as the “Rolex Presidential.”

5. Submariner

Introduced in 1953, the Submariner is a watch built for divers and others venturing deep below the surface. This Rolex style is famous for its resistance to water and iconic unidirectional rotating bezel.

Both vintage and modern releases of the Submariner are highly sought after.

How Can You Sell or Buy Rolex Watches?

Are you interested in adding a Rolex to your collection or making space in your collection for another collectible? Learn how to do both by considering the following steps:

How to Sell Your Rolex Watch

All Rolex watches are sought-after, especially older collectible models. The best way to sell your Rolex watch is by getting it in front of the right audience. Fine jewelry and watch auctions, like Fortuna, have a wide audience reach of people searching for Rolex pieces.

Sell your Rolex watch at Fortuna in three simple steps:

  1. Get a free valuation: Send pictures and fine details — such as serial and model numbers or original documentation — to Fortuna with our web form or email, valuation@fortunaauction.com.
  2. Sign a consignment agreement: Once our professionals have looked over your piece, they’ll send you a consignment agreement that lists the high and low estimated selling price, as well as other important information regarding the auction process. If you agree to the terms listed, you will sign the agreement, and we will prepare your Rolex watch for auction.
  3. Collect your payment: Your Rolex watch will then go to auction. After it’s sold, Fortuna will contact you regarding which of your pieces sold, at what price and how we will pay you.

Learn more about our selling process by visiting our selling page online.

How to Buy a Collectible Rolex Watch

You can participate in Fortuna’s monthly auctions anywhere around the globe. Once registered, you’ll gain access to our auctions, hosted in-person, online, over the phone or via absentee.

We believe strongly in total transparency. Fortuna holds a reliable reputation, and we want you to make a fully informed decision before adding a piece to your collection. We take great care when evaluating each piece and educating buyers on every detail, from its history to its craftsmanship.

Learn more about how you can buy a collectible Rolex watch from Fortuna by visiting our buying page online.

building your rolex collection

Building Your Rolex Collection? Learn More About Fortuna’s Luxury Auctions Today

Whether you’re ready to part with your Rolex watch or looking to add one to your collection, rely on Fortuna Auction. We’d love to walk you through our buying and selling processes in more detail. Learn more about Fortuna by contacting us online or calling us directly at +1 (212)-389-9040.

cartier

Cartier—Timeless Jeweler and Watchmaker

You’ve likely heard of Cartier before—especially their well-known pieces like the Cartier Love bracelet or Tank watch. Cartier is a French-based luxury goods company specializing in jewelry and watchmaking. Here, you’ll learn more about the history of Cartier, as well as how to sell and buy coveted Cartier collectibles.

The History Behind Cartier

Cartier’s origin began with Louis-François Cartier, the founder, born in Paris in 1819. He spent most of his early adulthood as an apprentice under a master watchmaker. In 1847, Cartier bought the store from his apprentice—the beginning of Cartier’s successful journey.

Soon, Cartier’s craft extended from watchmaking into jewelry. He bought what he could afford and made the best pieces he could, strengthening his craft with every piece made. Cartier would sell his pieces and invest the profits into buying bigger and better materials, his work building the Cartier business to new levels.

In the late 1800s, Louis-Francois Cartier’s son, Alfred Cartier, took over the business. Around this time, France’s elites were fleeing from France in the heat of a Socialist revolution. They were looking for any way out, including by selling their finest jewelry and watches at a desperately low price. Alfred bought these pieces, and from there, the Cartier business skyrocketed.

With a century of growth throughout the 1900s, Cartier grew to be a well-known jewelry and watchmaking brand. Although Cartier is no longer family-owned, it’s still widely successful, operating more than 200 stores in 125 countries, including London, New York and Paris.

sought after Cartier pieces

Some of Cartier’s Most Sought-After Pieces

All of Cartier’s pieces are highly sought after. Collectors enjoy the exclusivity of the brand, seeking both antique and new pieces to add to their collection. Some of the most sought-after Cartier pieces are:

1. Cartier Love Bracelet

Perhaps one of the most well-known Cartier jewelry is the Cartier Love bracelet. Aldo Cipullo, who is the only man allowed to have his signature on a Cartier piece, originally designed the unique bracelet.

The bracelet’s design is relatively simple, but its symbolism makes it so popular. The Cartier Love bracelet doesn’t slip onto the wrist like most bracelets. Rather, it’s fixed onto a wearer’s wrist by two screw heads, requiring a special screwdriver to apply and remove the bracelet. The idea is to give the tool to your lover so only they can access your bracelet.

The Cartier Love bracelet is available online in various styles and sizes, and it’s widely popular with collectors and jewelry enthusiasts alike.

2. Cartier Tank Watch

The Cartier Tank watch’s design, crafted in the early 1900s, is inspired by the tracks of the French war tank Renault FT-17. The defining characteristics of the Tank watch are its rectangular face and bold hour markers. The original Tank Watch used silver metal and black leather. But, since its creation, you can find over 50 different models online currently.

3. Trinity De Cartier Ring

The Trinity collection contains many models of earrings, necklaces and bracelets, but the most sought-after Trinity style is the original ring. The ring has three intertwining pieces representing the three stages of romance—friendship, fidelity and love. To further symbolize those stages, each piece is its own metal, including pink, yellow and white gold.

4. Panthère De Cartier Ring

One of Cartier’s most recognized symbols is the panther. It began its association with the brand in 1914 when Louis-Francois Cartier commissioned an artist to paint a bejeweled lady posing with the wild cat. The piece was called “Dame a la Panthère” and was featured in one of Cartier’s most famous advertising campaigns. Admirers received the panther so well, it solidified the piece into the Cartier brand.

Over the century, you can find the Cartier panther integrated into many of the brand’s works, including the Panthère de Cartier ring. There are currently over 40 models of the panther ring, which you can find in different metals and with various adorned gemstones and unique interpretations.

5. Cartier Juste Un Clou Bracelet

The name of the Juste un Clou bracelet directly translates to “just a nail”—and that’s exactly what it is. The original design is a simple, long golden nail, wrapped to form the shape of a bracelet. The style is minimalist, proving Cartier can make anything beautiful. Now, you can find varying styles, including different metals and gemstone adornments. 

How to Buy or Sell Cartier Jewelry and Watches

Are you ready to part from your Cartier jewelry to make room for new pieces in your collection? Or are you a collector looking for antique and new Cartier styles to purchase? Consider selling or buying Cartier jewelry at Fortuna — a leading auction house serving sellers and buyers across the globe.

How to Buy Cartier Jewelry

Participate in Fortuna’s monthly sales by registering with us first. Before the bid date, confirm your identity by providing a photo of your ID, as well as your credit card information for billing purposes. Once registered, you’ll be added to Fortuna’s book of trusted bidders.

You can bid on Cartier jewelry online by downloading the Fortuna app or using one of our affiliated third-party sites, Live Auctioneers or Invaluable. Or, you can join Fortuna in-person in New York City. When bidding in-person, our auctioneers will distribute numbers and paddles, which you will use to place bids on items you want, like Cartier jewelry or watches.

How to Sell Cartier Jewelry

Before your piece goes to auction, contact Fortuna for a free valuation. We can evaluate your Cartier piece online or in-person via appointment. Our experts will give you a reliable estimate based on a set of criteria, including the item’s:

  • Aesthetic
  • Materials
  • Craftsmanship
  • Condition
  • Alterations
  • Rarity

Once you receive your estimate, we request an in-person valuation. To complete this evaluation, Fortuna will give you an insured shipping label. Using this label, send us your Cartier piece, which we will keep safe and secure in one of our state-of-the-art vaults. Once at our New York City location, we will give you a low and high auction estimate.

If you agree to sign the consignment agreement — stating everything you need to know about our consignment process — we will prepare your item for auction. After the auction, you’ll receive a settlers agreement outlining how much your piece sold for and what you’ll receive for its selling.

buy or sell Cartier

Buy or Sell Cartier Jewelry and Watches With Fortuna

Do you have any questions about how to sell or buy Cartier pieces? Our experts at Fortuna would love to answer them for you. Learn more about how our process works by contacting us online or giving us a call at 212-389-9040.

Patek Philippe Natutilus

Patek Philippe: Luxury Watch Manufacturer

Many of today’s luxury watch brands were founded hundreds of years ago by master watchmakers. Patek Philippe is one such brand, prized by serious collectors worldwide for the precision and artistry of its pieces.

Who Is Patek Philippe?

The Patek Philippe brand of watches was founded by two master watchmakers—Antoni Patek and Adrien Philippe. Their combined last names form the brand name familiar to collectors today. The company launched in 1851 when the first Patek Philippe watches were displayed at the Great Exhibition in London.

The Great Exhibition was dedicated to the most modern and exciting inventions of that era. Patek Philippe watches were innovative, with gadgetry and gears new to the world of watches. Today, Patek Philippe is still known for modernity as well as elegant styling and quality.

patek phillippe watch
Patek Philippe Ref. 5040J-014 Perpetual Calendar in 18K Gold. Achieved $23,750 at auction.
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Ulysse Nardin Limited Edition Anchor Tourbillon

Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon Limited Carbon Dial in 18K White Gold.

Fortuna is excited to bring to auction a rare timepiece and marvel of horological innovation: the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon Limited Carbon Dial in 18K White Gold. Conceived as a series of traditionally styled watches equipped with Ulysse Nardin’s proprietary mechanical movement and Anchor escapement, the timepiece is complete with an impressive tourbillon and 8-day power reserve, as well as unmatched craftsmanship and years of research behind the ingenious use of silicon in the movement. The carbon fiber dial adds a lot of depth and is nicely contrasted by the silver printing. The 44mm case also guarantees a handsomely grand presence on any wrist.

A closer look at the Anchor Tourbillon, the result of cutting edge innovation at Ulysse Nardin.

The real marvel behind the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon watch is the Anchor escapement, a marriage of the best of watchmaking past with the technology of the future. Made by dedicated watchmakers and nanofabrication engineers alike, the Anchor escapement consists mostly of silicon parts, an unconventional material in the world of luxury watch making, but its resistance to magnetism and ability to be manufactured to a level of accuracy only possible with nanotechnology makes it the ideal material for horologists.

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Billie Holiday Art Deco Diamond Watch t

Billie Holiday’s Diamond Watch Comes to Auction!

Fortuna is excited to auction a piece of American music history in our July Jewels & Watches sale—a dress watch owned by none other, than Billie Holiday. The Art Deco diamond-covered watch is set on a platinum bracelet with a silvered dial with Arabic numerals, and promises to be one of the most coveted pieces from our exciting sale.

Billie Holiday Fine Diamond Watch in Platinum

Billie Holiday was one of the greats, her contributions to jazz and swing music are as important vocally as they are socially. Billie, born Eleanora Fagan, had all the odds stacked against her since childhood. Born as the illegitimate child of two African American teens in Philadelphia in 1915, Billie would fight off every adversity imaginable. Her father left her and her mother when she was very young to pursue a career in jazz, so she was left to be raised by her mother and grandmother. Billie was moved to Harlem, New York at just 14 where her mother worked in a brothel, and Billie suffered as a victim of sex trafficking. Both she and her mother were subsequently sent to prison.

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Special Rolex Daytona Dials

Rolex was the official timekeeper of the car races in Daytona, Florida for the first time in 1962. One year later, the company launched its Cosmograph Reference 6239, a chronograph watch that evolved into the Daytona we all know and love today.

Many celebrities and watch collectors, including actor and racer Paul Newman, have been big fans of the Daytona. These watches were created specifically for car racers and have undergone many different styles in their 55-year history. And in the time before Rolex was completely vertically integrated in their production, vintage Daytonas are chockfull of design inconsistencies that have set the vintage watch world abuzz. We’ve put together a small list of some of our favorite Daytona dial variations that have grown significantly in value over the years.

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Richard Mille RM-07 Ladies’ Watch in 18K White Gold | December 2019 Important Watches

One of the highlights in our Important Watches auction, this sublime, nearly mint condition, Richard Mille RM-07 Ladies’ Watch in 18K White Gold was offered for an estimated $50,000 and achieved $93,750, more than tripling its starting bid. Richard Mille is one of the most desired and groundbreaking modern watch brands. Their watches are iconoclastic in design, use manufacture movements and have been popularized by countless style icons, celebrities, and professional sports players.

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paul newman

Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman”: What It Is and Why It’s So Valuable

Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona is something of a legend in the watch community. Newman’s iconic wristwatch singlehandedly saved an entire series of Daytona watches, before setting records itself when it sold. In a high-profile auction, the 1968 Oyster Cosmograph Daytona Paul Newman wore over the decades sold for $17.5 million, setting the record for the highest price ever recorded for a wristwatch to date.

Not only is the original watch Newman wore highly valuable, but it has also raised the value of similar models of Daytona watches. As an example, a watch of the same reference number as Newman’s Daytona recently sold for $275,000 at auction.

 

Who Is Paul Newman & Why Is the “Paul Newman” Daytona So Valuable?

Paul Newman, the famous American actor and philanthropist, starred in classic films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Color of Money, The Sting and Cool Hand Luke. Many people know him for his movies, but he also put his stamp on history as a professional race car driver and getting a collection of Rolexes to carry his namesake.

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Cartier Crash Watch 1991 Limited Edition | December 2019 Important Watches

The Cartier Crash is one of the most iconic watches made by the legendary jeweler. The original Crash was made by Cartier craftsmen in the UK after seeing a colleague’s watch that was badly melted in a car accident. The resulting Crash reminded many of Salvador Dali’s surrealist watches in one of his most well known works, “The Persistance of Memory,” and a legend was born that is associated with the “Swinging London” of the 1960s. 

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Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239 | December 2019 Important Watches

The Important Watches collection is led by an exceedingly rare and fresh-to-market Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239, known amongst watch enthusiasts as the most desirable and valuable vintage sport watches. It will be offered for an estimate of $150,000–$250,000 at auction. Famously worn by the actor and race car enthusiast, the watch has become just as legendary as the man who it is associated with.

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