Thursday, October 27, 2016

Simon Garfield's titled, "Still ticking. The improbable survival of the luxury watch business.

I have a confession to make. I typically don't like reading long articles with pages and pages of words, without any photos. Despite having tried many times to enjoy magazines like The New Yorker and The Economist, I can never seem to last very long with reading them. This is due to the fact I am so visual and photo-centric. I definitely subscribe to the school of thought that says a photo is worth a thousand words, which should come as no surprise to any reader of Jake's Rolex World.

This being said, I just finished reading one of the best written, most enjoyable watch articles I have ever read, and no I am not referring to Jack Forester's Brilliant Article On The Rolex Day-Date that was recently published on

Instead, I am referring to Simon Garfield's article he wrote for the Guardian titled, "Still ticking. The improbable survival of the luxury watch business." In this amazingly well written article Simon asks: "In an increasingly digital world, people are still willing to spend huge amounts on analogue timepieces. The question is, why?"

Simon's article is highly educational, insightful and offers a super historical perspective, to which I would like to add a few key points the author did not elaborate upon:

The first point is that the United States before World War II was a huge producer of timepieces, but the war caused many of the watch factories to be converted to making armaments and munitions, which in turn contributed to Switzerland becoming the world leader in watchmaking.

Secondly, while Simon briefly mentioned the Quartz Crisis, he completely glosses over Beta 21 movement, and how it was really the Swiss who figured out how to produce accurate and productionable quartz based wrist watches. Basically, the Swiss consortium named Centre Electronique Horolger (CEH), which included, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, Piaget, Longines, IWC, Zenith, Bulova and Bucherer, developed the quartz watch technology, which ironically was based upon an earlier American design, but stumbled with being able to introduce it succesfully into the internatoinal marketplace. Instead, the Japanese successfully figured out how to capitalize on the opportunity, with brands like Seiko and Casio, which largely decimated the Swiss watch industry in the 1970s.

In an ironic twist of fate, Rolex and Patek Philippe  were largely the primary beneficiaries of this Quartz Crisis.

Rolex made many Quartz watches, as did Patek Philippe over the decades that followed, but Rolex stopped altogether. One of the questions I have always wondered about is, if Hans Wilsdorf, the Founder of Rolex, who died in 1960, had lived another 20 or 30 years, what would he have thought about Quartz technology? His predecessor, André Heiniger was the head of the Rolex ship during that time period, and did many great things to further Rolex's lead in the Swiss watch industry, but he was also the person who was largely responsible for the failure of the Quartz technology. 

In other words, I think he was confused by how to handle the Quartz juggernaut. In the final analysis he did not encourage  his salesmen to sell Rolex Oyster Quartz watches. He also priced them slightly less than mechanical movements, despite the fact they were technically more sophisticated that their mechanical counterparts in many ways. Thus, he positioned the quartz technology as being inferior to mechanical.

This is the story I have learned and am passing on from many old-timers in the watch industry. The greatest question one can ask, is how this will eventually effect Rolex in the future? In other words, Rolex basically, invented the SMART Watch, whether it was creating and bringing to market the first waterproof watches, as well as the first automatic Perpetual models, through the 1950s with the advent of the Datejust, Day-Date, Submariner, GMT-Master, Explorer, and Milgauss models.

If Rolex had maintained Hans Wilsdorf's innovation trajectory, would they have beat Apple to the punch in the 21st century? Or was it inevitable that somebody else would have to do so. 

OK. So now I am starting to write a long-read diatribe, but this is a question I intend to explore more in the future. In the meantime, I VERY HIGHLY RECOMMEND reading Simon Garfield's amazing article from The Guardian titled, 'Still Ticking: The improbable survival of the luxury watch business." Enjoy and savor it like a great piece of Swiss Chocolate!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Early 1960s Rolex Add Celebrating 700,000 Officially Certified Swiss Chronometers

Early 1960s Rolex Add

Celebrating 700,000 Officially Certified Swiss Chronometers

Putting together the pieces of the Rolex history puzzle over the years has been absolutely fascinating for me. Doing so is kind of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle–you begin by separating all the edge pieces and you figure out how to assemble them to form the frame, then you work your way inward, toward the center, and complete the puzzle. 

This early 1960s add was likely created just after Hans Wilsdorf's death. I don't have the exact date, but I would guess it was probably around 1962-1963. It is fascinating to note Rolex talks about how it took them over 50 years to produce their 700,000th Officially Certified Chronometer. Ironically, Rolex makes more than 700,000 Officially Certified Swiss Chronometer a year now!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sugar Ray Leonard Platinum Rolex Day-Date

...The First $100 Million Boxer...

Sugar Ray Leonard

Platinum Rolex Day-Date

Monday, October 24, 2016

Studio Shot Of The Day: Stefano's Rolex Cosmograph

...Studio Shot Of The Day...

Stefano's Rolex Cosmograph

[Reference 6239]

Pictured below is a Rolex Cosmograph brochure from 1970. Notice in 1970 that Rolex still put "Founder, H. Wilsdorf" on their collateral material. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Cecilia Bartoli Roman Diva

...Rolex Hotness...

Cecilia Bartoli
Roman Diva

5 Time Grammy Winner

Cecilia Bartoli is one of the top Opera singers in the world today. She is considered to be a coloratura mezzo-soprano, coupled with an unusual timbre, and is one of the top-selling opera singers today.

Cecilia Bartoli was discovered at a young age by several leading conductors, which included Daniel Barenboim, Nickolaus Harnoncourt, and Herbert von Karajan, who is pictured below. 

Herbert von Karajan is seen in the photos above and below wearing his Rolex Professional Watch, and in the future I plan to do a detailed story on his amazing career as the conductor for the Berlin Harmonic Orchestra from 1955 until his death in 1989.

Herbert von Karajan and the other conductors discovered Cecelia just after she completed her vocal training with her parents—both of which are also singers—in her home-town of Rome in Italy. Her career took off at an unusually young time in her life, and she has gone on to attain amazing career achievements.

Rolex sponsored a BBC documentary more than a decade ago, which gives a superb overview of Cecelia Bartoli's amazing career achievements, which I highly recommend watching below!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bernhard's Beautiful Gold Day-Date Mania

Bernhard's Beautiful Gold Day-Date Mania

Bernhard is one of the top Rolex vintage fans in the world and he publishes the 100 Percent Rolex Blog. He recently published some images of some really beautiful yellow gold vintage Rolex Day-Dates [Reference 1803] Models.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rolex Super Coolness: Enzo Ferrari 1952 Indianapolis 500 Rolex Chronograph Reference 3055

Ferrari History
Keeping Time with Rolex

...Rolex Super Coolness...

Enzo Ferrari
With Rolex Keeping The Time Of His Life

Rolex Chronograph Reference 3055

Enzo Ferrari is a racing car legend and in many ways, he created a company that is very similar to Rolex. Enzo wore and depended on a Rolex to keep the time of his life for at least 4 decades of his life. Enzo Ferrari is pictured below in 1920 racing and A.L.F.A. 40/60HP.

Enzo Ferrari had a nickname of 'Il Commendatore', which means 'Commander'. This nickname came directly from the King of Italy, Vittorio Emmanuel III.

1952 Indianapolis 500
[Ferrari's First U.S.A. Race]

The photo below was taken of Enzo Ferrari and his top driver Alberto Ascari in Maranello, Italy as they prepare for the Indianapolis 500 car race that would soon take place in the United States.

Enzo Ferrari is pictured on the far right side, sporting his trademark Rolex Chronograph Reference 3055. Enzo is standing next to world champion, Alberto Ascari (center) and the man on the far left is Ing Daccò (tallest).

It is fascinating to take into consideration the in-depth contextual meaning behind these photos, in the sense, that when they were taken, Enzo Ferrari, with his number 1 driver, Alberto Ascari, were making Formula 1 history, and putting Ferrari on the map for the first time.

In the photo above and in the photo below, we see
Alberto Ascari and the Ferrari N.A.R.T. (North American Racing Team) at the 1952 Indianapolis 500 race. The 1952 N.A.R.T. team was owned by Luigi Chinetti, who was the official distributor of Ferrari U.S.A.

It is interesting to note the Ferrari badge appears in both photos, but without the prancing "Ferrari" Horse. This is due to the fact Enzo Ferrari his first participation in the Indianapolis to be unofficial. After Enzo got underway, he changed his mind and decided to add the prancing horse.

Alberto Ascari experienced mechanical challenges during the 1952 Indianapolis 500 and was not able to continue past his 13th lap. The 1952 Indianapolis 500 represented the first time Ferrari raced in the U.S.A, and even though they did not complete the race, it marked a significant milestone in Ferrari history.

In the photo below we see Alberto Ascari racing in a Ferrari F2 in the Belgian Grand Prix

In the photo below we see Alberto Ascari racing in a Ferrari F2 in the British Grand Prix

Enzo Ferrari's Rolex Chronograph (Reference 3055) was the smallest chronograph ever made, at an astounding 30mm diameter.

The next two photos below are of the same model Rolex Chronograph Enzo Ferrari's is wearing. Today Enzo's son, Piero Ferrari owns his father's Rolex Chronograph, Reference 3055.

The Chairman of Ferrari wearing a Rolex is still standard today, as current Ferrari Chariman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo has worn a Rolex his whole career.

I would like to thank my pal, John Goldberger for sending in these amazing photos. John Goldberger is the author of 100 Superlative Rolex Watches and he also publishes a Vintage Rolex Application for the iPad which showcases high-defenition photos of beautiful Rolex watches.

1940 Italian Rolex Chronograph Catalog Page
[Reference 3055]

John Goldberger also sent in this vintage Rolex catalog page for the Rolex 3055 Chronograph which appeared in an Italian magazine in 1940. Pretty cool!!!

One of the interesting take-away points is that in 1940, during World War II, Rolex pocket watches were still very popular, as we see in the Rolex catalog below. Rolex began selling the Reference 3055 Chronograph in 1940 and offered the model for sale until 1960.

Enzo Ferrari is pictured below wearing his Rolex Chronograph Reference 3055. He is pictured with American driver, Phil Hill who is the only American born Formula One driver to ever win the World's Drivers' Championship. (Mario Andretti was born in Italy).

Enzo Ferrari is pictured below on the left with Ferrari Racing Legend, Niki Lauda, between him and the current Chairman of Rolex, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo. Niki Lauda is also a big Rolex fan.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is pictured below in the early 1970s sporting his trademark Rolex GMT Master.

Current Ferrari Chairman, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is pictured below in a recent photo, wearing his trademark Rolex GMT Pepsi, as he poses in front of a model of a Ferrari. It is fascinating to note that the men who have guided Ferrari for its entire history are Rolex men!!!

Earlier in his career, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo was the director of racing for Ferrari, and you see him in the photo (three photos up the page) with Enzo Ferrari and Niki Lauda. Nicki Lauda was Ferrari's lead driver, and we see him in the photo below as he practices at the Nurburgring race track during the 1976 Grand Prix.

We see Niki Lauda in a more recent photo below, sporting his trademark vintage Rolex Daytona.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Saint Francis Yacht Club Rolex Clock

...Rolex Clock Shot Of The Day...

Saint Francis Yacht Club Rolex Clock
San Francisco Marina

I was at the Saint Francis Yacht Club in the San Francisco Marina and I took this photo of the classic Rolex clock. Notice it says "EST 1927", which ironically was the exact same year Rolex established the Rolex Oyster case.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Reinhold Messner Rolex Explorer Mark II...

The Complete History Of The Rolex Explorer II

...Rolex Super Coolness...

Reinhold Messner
Conquering Mount Everest and K2

1979 Rolex Explorer Mark II

Recently, I have been working on putting together "The Complete History Of The Rolex Explorer II" series, which includes my story on French cave explorer Jean-François Pernette, who was the 1998 Rolex Laureate Winner in the Rolex Awards For Enterprise. Today we are going to look at the other man who best represents the spirit of the original orange hand Rolex Explorer II, and his name is Reinhold Messner.

Reinhold Messner is a legend in the Rolex world of adventure. In this photo he is seen climbing a mountain in Italy back in 1979, sporting his orange hand 36mm Rolex Explorer Mark II [Reference 1655].

The Telegraph in the UK, just published a fascinating story today named "20 reasons why Reinhold Messner is the world's greatest living man", which is fascinating. 

Messner was also the first climber to conquer Mount Everest without oxygen. If you think about it, that is a truly amazing feat because there is less than 1/3 of the amount of oxygen on top of Mount Everest than you are breathing right now.

Extreme Mountain climbing may seem like it is glamorous, but the truth is that it is anything but. It is an extremely dangerous sport and it is common for climbers to loose fingers and toes to frostbite. In this photo we see Reinhold Messner with the tips of his feet missing from frostbite.

Reinhold Messner & Peter Habeler
Conquering Mount Everest in 1978
First Climb Without Oxygen

In this next photo from 1978 we see Reinhold Messner with his climbing partner Peter Habeler. This was the first Mount Everest expedition that climbed to the summit without oxygen. This climb was documented in the movie Everest Unmasked.

In the photo above Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler are wearing their Rolex OysterQuartz Datejust watches [Reference 17000]. Peter Habeler is pictured below wearing his Rolex OysterQuartz Datejust.

Reinhold Messner is pictured below wearing his Rolex OysterQuartz

Below is a recent photo of Peter Habeler and Reinhold Messner

1978 Rolex Oysterquartz Ad
Sir Edmund Hillary and Reinhold Messner
Two Rolex Mountain-Climbing Legends Together

Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Reinhold Messner from Italy are two of the greatest mountain-climbers that have ever lived. Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to conquer Mt. Everest in 1953 and he was wearing his Rolex Oyster wristwatch.

Reinhold Messner was the first man to summit Everest without oxygen. He achieved this amazing feat in 1978, and when he came down the mountain, Sir Edmund Hillary was waiting to congratulate him and this photo was taken. Reinhold Messner was wearing his Rolex Oysterquartz when in 1978 when he first conquered Everest.

You have got to click on this image to see all the detail and read the story:

Update: Kristian Holm from Denmark who is reader of Jake's Rolex Watch Blog and he pointed out that in this next photo:

"It appears Sir Edmund Hillary is wearing a Rolex Oysterquartz 17013. I think it is a bit funny, that both Hillary and Reinhold Messner, 2 of the worlds best climbers, trust the Oyterquartz."

I agree Kristian and thank you for pointing this out. Indeed, Sir Edmund Hillary did wear a Rolex Oysterquartz for many years in his later life. Today Rolex no longer makes quartz watches, meaning watches that run on a battery. Maybe there is something to the quarts watches after all!?!

Pictured below is another Rolex ad featuring Reinhold Messner. It is ironic, if you think about it, that two of the greatest climbers in history preferred to wear Rolex watches that were Quartz!!! Maybe there is something to Quartz watches after all?

The Documentary

In 2012 a full-length documentary came out on Reinhold Messner that was simply titled "MESSNER". You can see the movie poster blow and watch the full documentary below the poster.

In the recent photo below we see Reinhold Messner wearing a 42MM Rolex Explorer with the polar white dial with retro orange hand.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Orange Hand Explorer 42MM with Polar White Dial

...Wrist Shot Of The Day...

Orange Hand Explorer

42MM with Polar White Dial

What is my favorite current Rolex model? Probably the 42MM Orange Hand Explorer with the Polar What dial as seen in the three photos below. 

In particular, I really like the super fat hands, and Maxi-Markers, as well as the fat lugs, and of course, the 42mm size seems just right. Also, the orange hand with the polar white dial is so cool looking!!!