Friday, June 23, 2017

The Quest For The Best Barbecue: Editors Choice Award

...Editor's Choice Award...

The Quest For The Best


It's that time of the year again, Summer just arrived in the Northern Hemisphere! Actually, the Summer Solstice began earlier this week, and the Fourth Of July holiday celebration is just around the corner in the United States. One of the first things I think about when I think about Summer is warm nights, with a cold drink, and some super-tasty Barbecued food!!!

Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated, if not obsessed with finding the best products in the world—which is why I LOVE Rolex ;-). Over the decades I have developed a strong habit of listening carefully whenever somebody is complaining or praising something profusely. This habit of being empathetic, has served me well as a designer. 

My Quest For The Best lead me to purchase my first Rolex Submariner watch—35 years ago—when I was 16 years old.  I was so blown-away by the build-quality of my first Rolex, it inspired me to appreciate fine detail even more, which ultimately lead me into a career as a designer. Over the past four decades I have designed everything from clothing, to furniture, to computer hardware and software, and even accessories for Apple products. As a result, I have developed quite a skill for seeking and finding the best products made, which typically offer the highest level of build-quality and innovation, and it has been typical for friends to seek my opinion before making major purchases.

This inspired me to start a this series of reviews titled, "Jake's Quest For The Best." With this new review series, I will be reviewing all kinds of different products, and reporting on my findings, much in the same way I research and write about Rolex history, and watches in general. My goal, is to write detailed, meaningful reviews that are highly educational, insightful and inspirational—reviews that genuinely help people in making smart purchase decisions.

The Best Of The Best

The criteria for Jake's Quest For The Best is that I only review products I want, need and use myself. These products have to basically adhere to the highest standards, just like a Rolex, in the sense, they look great, and most importantly, function flawlessly, and require little mainatinace. In other words, they must be timeless in design, built to last, and thus, defy and Transcend Obsolescence. As Frank Sinatra once said, "Good things endure." I am excited to begin my review series with my quest for the best barbecue.

Memphis Wood Fire Grill
The Best BBQ Money Can Buy

I am going to begin with my conclusion in this article: I believe, from all the extensive research I have completed, the Memphis Wood Fire Grill is by far and away the best Barbecue money can buy. 

Memphis is The Tesla of Barbecues

I would go so far as to say, Memphis BBQ is the Tesla of BBQs, in the sense its super-innovative technology completely leapfrogs everything made today. Also, like Tesla, Memphis Wood Fire Grills are Made in the USA. 

Basically, using a Memphis Wood Fire Grill feels like you got in a time-machine and went 25 years into the future and got the best BBQ money could buy, and brought it back to the present.

The Memphis Wood Fire Grill is a little different in that it uses wood pellets to cook food, as apposed to using propane gas, natural gas, or coal. Cavemen cooked with wood, so in many ways cooking with wood pellets today, represents a back-to-the-future approach. This ironically, is one of the many reasons I say the Memphis Grill is the Tesla of Barbecues, in the sense that many of the original automobiles ran on electricity, and not on gas.

In The Beginning 

A few years ago, I was at a friends home and they had a wood pellet grill made by Traeger, which looked like something you would expect to find in the Beverly Hillbillies, or Fred Flintone's back yard. Traeger invented and pioneered the Wood Burning Grill, when in 1985, they experimented with taking wood pellets used in a wood burning stoves, and put together a barbecue grill that ran on these same pellet—apposed to being fueled by Gas or Charcoal Briquets. In 1986 Traeger patented the Wood Pellet Grill.

Some friends of my family, who owned a Traeger Wood Burning Pellet Grill, were talking about how great it was, so I took an interest, and began asking questions. I asked them, what was so great about their Traeger wood burning grill. My friend said, "It is super-easy to use. All you do is set your target temperature, and hit the on button. Also, the food tastes great, as it takes on the flavor of the wood pellets, as apposed to using gas, which gives meats a gas-like taste."

I was naturally curious, and kept asking her questions about how it worked. She showed me the Auger, that move stored wood pellets from the hopper into the fire pit. About a half hour later, I had a burger made from the grill, which I was not impressed with. It tasked O.K., but by the time I got my burger together it was already kind of cold, and I did not notice any kind of great taste, which she had mentioned? Basically, I dismissed her enthusiasm as being symbolism over substance.

About a year ago, I decided I wanted to buy an outdoor barbecue for my family, so I did a ton of research, and picked out what I thought was the best gas barbecue made. Of course, I went with gas, as charcoal is a complete pain to ignite and clean. 

Stan Barrett Chimes In

I had probably invested about 100 hours researching the best gas barbecue. Just as I was getting ready to make my purchase, I ended up talking on the phone with my great pal, Stan Barrett, who is known as The Supersonic Speed King. Stan Barrett is pictured below in a recent photo, wearing his stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master.

Stan Barrett is perhaps best known for being the first man to break the speed of sound barrier on land, which he achieved in 1979, with his Budweiser Rocket, which he is seen leaning against in the photo below. Stan Barrett obviously knows a thing or two about mechanical engineering and high-quality machines...

Stan Barrett is pictured below as he prepares for his record setting drive in the Budweiser Rocket in 1979, and notice he is wearing a Rolex Daytona that his best friend, Paul Newman gave him as a good luck charm before he drove his rocket car into the history books.

So what does Stan Barrett have to do with my quest for the best barbecue? I was talking to Stan on the phone, and I asked, if he knew anything about who might make the best gas barbecue. I was shocked, but not surprised at how much detail he went into. Stan said, "The best barbecues made, by a long shot, are the ones that use wood pellets." I asked, 'are you sure!?!!' Stand responded, "Oh yeah. For sure! There is no question whatsoever that wood pellet grills are by far and away the best and only way to barbecue. Paul (Newman), and I both agreed on this 100%, and you know Paul is regarded to be one of the top foodies in history."

Stan Barrett is pictured above at a barbecue lunch with his best friend, Paul Newman

Stan Barrett continued, and said "Charcoal is a pain to deal with and makes a big mess with lots of smoke, and Paul and I agreed, cooking with gas ads a strange gassy aftertaste flavor to a great steak or burger. You have to go with a wood pellet burning barbecue. It's the only way to go." 

I respond, and told Stan I had done a ton of research, and found what I thought was the best gas barbecue.  I told him I had tried food from a wood pellet barbecue and I wasn't impressed." Stan responded:

"Look, you didn't try it under the right conditions. Trust me, I am 100% certain, that wood pellet grills are 1000% better than gas. With wood pellet grills, there are many different types of wood pellets you can cook with, and each one offers a unique taste profile. For instance, with steak, I like to use hickory or Misquete pellets, but with chicken, I like to use Apple Wood pellets, Alder, or Misquete pellets. I love to experiment, as each gives you a different flavor profile. It's even fun to mix different flavor pellets. Another advantage with using wood pellets is you can smoke the meat, which gives it an amazing natural flavor. Also, if you end up with leftovers and you reheat them, they still maintain the great taste. You have to check out wood pellet grills.!!!!"

I absolutely trusted Stan's opinion, and I figured if Paul Newman agreed, I had to dig deeper, so I did. I told Stan I had seen the Traeger models at Costco, and at my friends house, and was just not willing to cook on or own something that looked like it was from the Flinstones. I told Stan I wanted an all stainless steel barbecue that would look clean and modern. Stan responded: "I am the same way. I own an all stainless steel wood pellet burning grill that is fantastic, and it is all stainless. It works great and is made by a company in the U.S., named 'Fast Eddy's Cookshack". I have a $2700 gas barbecue and a Red Egg Charcoal, but I don't even use them. I'm so in love with my wood pellet barbecue!!! It is so well designed, I can even cook two turkeys at the same time."

I decided to investigate the model Stan Barrett owned, which is named "Fast Eddy's Cookshack PG1000 67" Pellet Grill & Smoker in one." It retails for around $2800, and you can see it in the picture below.

The next time I spoke with Stan, he asked me if I had checked out the Fast Eddy's Cookshack Pellet Grill. I told him I had, and he asked me what I thought? I told him I thought it seemed like a fine product, but I didn't want something that had a chimney on it. I said, there must me somebody who makes a stainless steel pellet grill, that is more streamlined and modern looking. Stan said, "Look. I own the Fast Eddy's grill, and the quality and consistency is flawless. I highly recommend you get one." I told Stan I would think about it and do some more research.

Memphis Wood Fire Grills

It took me several hours, but I finally found a company that made a wood pellet grill that was all stainless and looked great! The more I investigated and researched the Memphis Wood Fire Grills, the more blown-away and impressed I was. The model that first caught my eye, that I ended up purchasing is pictured below.

The Memphis Wood Fire Grill pictured above is named  "The Memphis Pro", and it offers a 28 inch wide cooking surface. After spending another dozen or so hours, I realized this was the grill for me. So I called Stan Barrett on the phone and told him all about it. I have been barbecuing on the Memphis Pro for several months now, and I believe it to be the Rolex of Barbecues, in the sense it looks fantastic, and functions beautifully, and most importantly is built to last. So let's explore the details that make the Memphis Wood Fire Grill the best barbecue made in my opinion. Let's begin by taking a look at an excellent overview video:

Simplicity & Great Looks

The Memphis Pro is really good looking. It is so super simple, much like an iPhone, or Tesla. There are only several buttons on the whole grill, which is quite different from gas barbecues, in the sense gas barbecues typically have multiple knobs for controlling different gas burners. If you examine the vast majority of gas barbecues, you will notice they have cheap, flimsy, janky knobs that are typically made out of flimsy plastic. The Memphis Wood Fire Grill, conversely has a super-simple control panel with an On/Off switch, and a thermostat with Up/Down buttons as seen below. The photo below was taken just after I turned on the Memphis, and the 88F number is the internal temperature, and 395F is the target temperature. It typically takes approximately 5 minutes to reach the target temperature.

So basically, the Memphis Pro works much more like an Convection oven, where you set one temperature, and once it reaches that temperature, it maintains it. Contrast this with gas barbecues, which are much more like using a cooktop, that has 4 to 6 burners, which each have to be individually turned on and controlled.

The Digital Smart Controller

One of the most valuable features of the Memphis Wood Fire Grills is the ability to cook at exact temperatures. With a charcoal grill you the user has very little control over temperature control, and with gas, there are typically only Low, Medium and High settings. The Memphis Wood Fire Grill, on the other hand, provides very precise control, where you can control it within 5 degree increments that can range from 180 to 650 degrees Fahrenheit. This precision internal temperature control relies on an ITC (Internal Temperature Control) module, which uses an high-precision internal thermal sensor. The ITC varies air and fuel rates based upon the set point in order to accurately maintain consistent internal temperature.


The Memphis Pro comes standard with Wi-Fi built-in. This means you can remotely turn the Memphis on and off, and monitor and modify temperature remotely from an iPhone or other smartphone. The Memphis also includes a highly sophisticated electronic cooking controller that maintains all aspects of the cooking process. It uses smart microchips to monitor and control everything. You can think of a Memphis barbecue as a very "Smart Barbecue", like a "Smartphone", or like an iPhone or a Smart Car—like a Tesla. Later in this article I will get into more technical detail about how the actual internal componentry works, but for a brief overview, check out the video below:

Build Quality

The Memphis Pro is literally built like a tank. Memphis offers it in two different types of stainless steel. Both types of stainless steel are provide double-walled insulation, which translates into being far more efficient as less heat can escape. The standard Memphis Pro comes in 430 sealed stainless steel, which is great if you live inland in a drier climate like in Arizona or Las Vegas, where you are not close to the ocean. Memphis also offer an upgraded model made from 304 steel, which is good if you live in a costal climate. As I understand it, 304 steel is completely rustproof. 

I must have looked at over a hundred different barbecue models and there is one key characteristic that I always look at, which is really important with a stainless steel barbecue, and that is build and material quality. With material quality, the question is what percentage of the barbecue and stand are made from high-quality solid stainless steel? This is the place where most barbecue manufacturers skimp or cut corners to save money. 

Originally, I thought to purchase a major famous name-brand Barbecue, then I noticed that many of the parts on it were made from metal that was NOT stainless, or from what appears to be aluminum. When I did a web search, and read reviews, I learned of many people complaining about how after a few years, many parts of the barbecue would rust out, particularly the walls of the stand would get covered in rust. 

On a side note, I noticed that most of the new 2017 Weber models eliminated the walls on the stand altogether. I also noticed that on many manufacturers models, that look like they are stainless steel, they don't use stainless steel on the left and right side of the barbecue lid. Instead, to save money and cut corners, they use alternative materials that look and feel cheap.

So let's get back to Memphis. From all my detailed evaluation, and from talking with Memphis, all their models are intentionally over-engineered—like a Rolex. Memphis Wood Fire Grills are not only built to last, but they go out of their way to take a belt and suspenders approach to engineering and build-quality. Their entire lid structured is all-stainless steel in construction and double insulated, which makes it look and feel very sturdy. Using this type of construction also allow it to retain heat much better than a single walled hood. This is a very important point, and touchtone quality feature. In other words, I highly recommend when you evaluate an barbecue grill carefully study its hood construction, and make certain it is insulated with double wall construction.

Memphis Barbecues also benefit from a base that is entirely made from stainless steel, so it won't rust or get funky over time. Most of the Memphis models have dual stainless steel doors on the front of the stand, which gives you a large amount of storage room the can hold extra wood pellets and barbecue accessories. The video below offers an excellent overview of the Memphis, from an actual Memphis Engineer:

Wood Pellets v. Gas v. Charcoal

There are basically three different methods for barbecuing: A Wood pellet oven is like an oven you would find in high-end restaurants that have wood fueled pizza ovens. Wood pellet ovens are similar in many ways to traditional barbecues, but differ in a few ways. First of all, wood burning ovens maintain the same level of heat throughout the oven, so if you cook a burger on one of the top racks, it should cook at the same rate as cooking on the larger standard base cooking surface. Also, wood pellets have the advantage of being quick to heat, compared to charcoal fueled barbecues.

Food Taste Quality

This is really where a wood pellet barbecue shines! The flavor is really amazing and all-natural, in a caveman kind of way. Every time we cook on the Memphis, when we have guests, they can't stop talking about how amazing the flavor is. The barbecued food takes on the taste characteristics of the type of wood pellets you are cooking with, and give the food a very natural tasty flavor. My favorite is Miscquette pellets.

Company Background 

This is a really interesting story. When I received my Memphis Barbacue, I studied its construction carefully, and was stunned with how precisely it was designed and assembled. I could not help but notice the amazing level of engineering and precision that was evident in the Barbecue. I remember thinking to myself, how could a company that I have never heard of before, that is not a household name, appear from out of nowhere, and make high-end barbecues that look like they were made by Apple or Tesla? It turns out, Memphis was founded as a division of a company named Dalsin Industries, which have made and worked with sheet metal for 75 years. Dalsin is one of the largest sheet metal manufacturing businesses in the United States, and has historically worked as precision metal manufacturing OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). It turns out, the folks at Dalsin Industries, decided one day they thought they could reinvent the barbecue as we know it, by incorporating all their metal engineering expertise and knowledge, and that is exactly what they did when the formed the Memphis Barbecue company.

Environmental Commitment

Wood burning pellets are the most environmentally-freindly grilling and smoking method. Wood pellet grills use a minimal amount of electricity (running on traditional 110 Household current) to control the burning of the wood pellets, which makes them the most environmentally friendly grill choice. Using wood pellets as a fuel source is superb as the pellets are made from hardwood chips and compressed sawdust, thus, they use resources that would normally be wasted. 

Also, the wood pellets have zero chemicals, so they burn cleanly, with minimal ash. Compare that with burning charcoal which releases VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) into the atmosphere, which contribute to things like smog. Memphis has a great blog post on Grilling Environmentally that I recommend reading.

Easy Of Use

Most barbecues are difficult and confusing to operate, as well as being difficult to clean, and this is where the Memphis barbecues shine. There is no lighter fluid, lighters, or gas involved in using a Memphis Wood Pellet Burning Grill. Just and On/Off button, and a temperature setting Up/Down Button. In the future, I plan to do a detailed video review of the Memphis Grill, and in the meantime, below is a superb review by Steven Raichlen, who happens to be rockin' a cool Panerai Radiomir.

Not Much Room for Improvement

In my opinion there is not much room for improvement with the Memphis Wood Fire Grill. The only constructive criticism I can think of, is that I would love to see them build in LED lights into the barbecue so that when you are barbecuing at night, if it is dark you can still see really well. 

Also. the Memphis ships with a protective blue film covering practically every inch of exposed stainless steel. I am pretty certain they ship it this way to protect the grill from scratching, but beware, it took me over an hour to remove all the film, and it was not easy. I think Memphis should figure a way to ship it without the film, as it is frustrating to remove, and you have to remove the film before you use the grill for the first time. Memphis warns you in the instructions that if you don't remove 100% of the semi-clear blue film, before you first use the grill, it could melt, and become really difficult to remove.

Also, Memphis' instruction manual could and should be improved. Don't get me wrong, their manual is O.K., but I think they could improve it significantly and I think that since it is relatively expensive at around $3,600, it should come with a nice Memphis Wood Fire Grill Cookbook, as well as with a nice set of Memphis barbecue cooking tools. I also think Memphis should do more to build-up its online how to video library. If it seems like I am nitpicking, I am. The Memphis Pro is an amazing work of art.

Memphis Built-In Grills

I almost forgot to mention, Outdoor kitchen are all the rage today in high-end homes, and Memphis offers their Pro Wood Fire Pellet Grills in Built-In models as seen in the photo below on the right. If I understand it correctly, they also offer a conversion kit that can later convert a stand-alone unit into a built-in unit, which offers a cleaner look.

Forbes Magazine summed up the Memphis Grills well when in 2015, they wrote the following: 

“Memphis Wood Fire Grill: This high-end line of pellet smoker/grill combos takes backyard cooking up a notch and may be as close as you can get to a true all in one gourmet solution. It offers three distinct ways to cook everything from championship-style slow smoked brisket to flash seared steaks to baked pies. The same pellet fed firebox that uses a digital controller to hold a precise “low and slow” smoking temp of 180°-275° can grill and sear at more than 700°. But it is the addition of a dual fan convection cooking system that sets this unit apart and lets you roast chicken like on a rotisserie without the moving parts, bake pies, and do all the cool things you can do with a convection oven in the kitchen, cooking faster and more evenly without drying food out or even flipping it.” —Forbes Magazine

Editor's Choice Award

In my personal opinion, the Memphis Wood Fire Grill is the best outdoor grilling solution money can buy. Having used one for several months now, I am convinced it is an absolute work of art, and I can't highly enough recommend it. Just make certain that if you purchase one, you carefully read all the directions before you use it, and always be careful when using an barbecue. You can find out much more by visiting, and the video below from offers a superb overview.

Care & Maintenance 

The care and maintenance video below is from Memphis Grills YouTube channel.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Story Of Time By Rolex 1951 Documentary

The Story Of Time



1951 Rolex Documentary

Soundtrack Performed by
The London Symphony Orchestra

I am embarrassed to admit this, but I just discovered the documentary titled, The Story Of Time By Rolex which was a 1952 Academy Award nominated short film documentary that explored the subject of what time meant, and how time measurement evolved throughout the history of mankind. The way I discovered, the movie was a friend of mine who is a fellow Rolex fanatic, referred to it, and I had no idea what he was talking about? He was surprised, and I Googled it, and there it was hiding in plain sight.

This Rolex movie ads additional pieces to the Rolex History puzzle, and it very profound on many levels. The Story Of Time By Rolex documentary can be viewed below. The Rolex documentary was filmed in 1951, and is obviously dated today, but deeply profound in many ways—especially if you watch it over and over again, as I have done.

This Rolex video and its theme, very much remind me of another online horological magazine I publish, named, "Jake's Time Machine: Exploring The History Of Timekeeping." I must admit I am utterly fascinated with Timekeeping and all of its facets. I think the pursuit of timekeeping in many ways correlates with the Spirit Of Inquiry. This brings to mind a few great Albert Einstein quotes; which I believe are perfectly on-point for the Rolex documentary, the first of which is:

"The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books—a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects." —Albert Einstein

The second Einstein quote which I believe is also perfectly on-point says:

"The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity!" —Albert Einstein

There are two versions of The Story Of Time By Rolex. The one above makes much more sense as it has voice-over narrative that tells the story of time. The second version below, which is more confusing has no voice narrative, and only features music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. It is interesting that when Rolex shows a Rolex watch at the end, it shows a left handed Rolex, which is also seen below in the title keyframe.

Another fascinating key point made in the first version of the Rolex Documentary is the mention of the steps toward the advent of "The Wrist Chronometer", which is very interesting to me, as I don't frequently think of a Rolex as a wrist Chronometer, but that is really exactly what it is. Recently, with Rolex's introduction of the Single-RED SEA-DWELLER, I wrote a 6 part story named, "The Return Of The Single RED SEA-DWELLER: 50th Anniversary Model." In part 2 of that story, I wrote extensively about the significance and history of the wrist chronometer, and the profound innovative impact it had on the world. In the future, I intend to do a complete a modern documentary version of The Story Of Time, that would be significantly longer and more detailed, as I believe it is a deeply profound subject.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

An LV Hanging with an Explorer II

...A Note From A Reader....

Scott's Rolex Watches
An LV Hanging with an Explorer II

Scott Shafer sent in photos of his LV and Explorer II, and said:

Hi Jake-

Just wanted to reach out and say thanks for the hard work. I'm a big fan of your work! The amount of effort you go to, to put together Jake's Rolex Magazine is tremendous. I love checking out the Rolex history as well as the general history lessons I get from you. 

Here are a few pics of some of my Rolex's. 


Scott, Thanks for sharing your kind words, which I genuinely appreciate very much! I feel the exact same way about the 'general history lessons', in the sense that one of my favorite things about publishing Jake's Rolex World, are the amazing history lessons I get from doing all the research!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Brooks Koepka Wins 2017 U.S. Open Golf Tournament

...Rolex Coolness...

Brooks Koepka
Wins U.S. Open Golf Championship Tournament 
Stainless Steel Rolex Daytona

Brooks Koepka won the 117th U.S. Open on Sunday, and in the photo below we see him posing with his trophy, while wearing his stainless steel Rolex Daytona.

Image Courtesy of Richard Hethcote/Getty Images

Image Courtesy of The Boston Herald

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rolex Diretor...Harry Borer Belongs To The Ages

Former Chairman Of The Board

Harry Borer

Belongs To The Ages


Harry Borer, former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Manufacture des Montres Rolex S.A., was born on November 26, 1927 and passed away on June 16, 2017 at age 89. Harry Borer was the son of Emile Borer, who was responsible for developing Rolex's super innovative 'Perpetual' Movement, which was the worlds first commercially viable automatic movement.  Harry Borer was also the grandson of Jean Aegler, who founded Aegler S.A., which began making watch movements for Rolex in 1905. In 1913, with the success and rapid expansion of Rolex, Aegler S.A., became a subsidiary of Rolex S.A., and was renamed, Manufacture des Montres Rolex S.A., and in recent decades was commonly referred to as "Rolex Biel". In 2004, Manufacture des Montres Rolex S.A., was acquired by Rolex in 2004 for an undisclosed amount of money, which has been estimated to be in the amount of several Billion dollars. 

"Rolex is the biggest competition for Rolex." 

—Harry Borer (2017)

Harry Borer went to work for Manufacture des Montres Rolex S.A. in 1961, just after Rolex Founder, Hans Wilsdorf passed away. Harry Borer said, in 2017: "Rolex is the biggest competition for Rolex." Harry Borer took over the Manufacture des Montres Rolex S.A. helm in 1967, after his father Emile Borer passed away, and helped it grow  from 180 employees in 1967, to 2500 employees in 2001. In 2001, when Harry Borer retired, he passed the baton to his son, Daniel Borer who took over as the Chairman of the Board of Manufacture des Montres Rolex S.A., and his daughter Franziska took over as Operations Director.You can read more about Harry Boer in an obituary published on

So who exactly was Harry Borer? Let's hop in the Rolex Time Machine to find out. Before we go back in time, let's take a look at what makes Rolex tick today:

Rolex Headquarters
Geneva, Switzerland 1928

Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex decided to move Rolex World Headquarters from London, England to Geneva, Switzerland in 1919. Rolex moved to 18 due du Marché, which was located below the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre in Old Geneva. Rolex remained at this location for forty years.

The photo above shows Rolex's Geneva Worldwide headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland in 1928. If you look closely you can see the ROLEX signs on the upper floor of the building, and also notice the unlocked bicycles standing-up next to the sidewalk. It's hard to imagine a world where people would just leave their unlocked bicycles parked next to the sidewalk, but this was the world of Geneva in the late 1920s.

These were clearly humble beginnings, and it is worth noting that today, Rolex is considered to be one of the most successful brands in the world, but it was not alway that way. As a matter of fact, in 1928, in Geneva, Hans Wilsdorf and Rolex were considered to be a Genevan outsider, which caused Rolex to work that much harder to establish itself as a true Genevan brand.

Rolex Headquarters
Geneva, Switzerland 

Rolex worldwide headquarters today is located in Geneva, Switzerland and is the epicenter of all things Rolex. This Rolex facility houses all the senior executives, as well as the international marketing department, and the Rolex R&D design center.

Rolex Headquarters today in Geneva Switzerland

Rolex Plan-Les-Site

Geneva, Switzerland
Rolex Foundry, Case & Bracelet Making Facility

Today, Rolex is a vertically integrated company, which means they produce and manufacture 100% of the components used in their watches. Rolex is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, but has facilities located all over Switzerland. 

The photo above shows the Rolex Plan-Les-Quates facility which contains the Rolex foundry where Rolex melts gold, platinum and steel to use in the production of their watches. The photo below shows liquified gold being poured at the Rolex foundry. 

Rolex Plan-Les-Quates site today in Geneva Switzerland

The photo below shows a Rolex technician creating Rolex Gold, by melting down gold to a liquid state so it may be molded into parts for making Rolex watches.

Rolex also builds and assembles Oyster cases and bracelets at the Plan-Les-Quates facility.

Rolex Dial and Bezel Facility

Chêne-Bourg, Switzerland

The Rolex facility in Chêne-Bourg, Switzerland specializes in dial making as well as making watch hands, bezels and crystals. 

Rolex watch cases and bracelets, as well as all parts are made with CNC machines, but all parts are still hand assembled by Rolex trained master watchmakers.

The Rolex facility in Chêne-Bourg workshops also specialize is inserting precious stones onto dials and on bezels as seen below.

Rolex Movement Making Facility

Bienne, Switzerland

In October of 2012, Rolex completed a new manufacturing facility in Bienne, Switzerland that specializes in making all movements for their watches. 

Rolex cases, bracelets and dials have always been made in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as final assembly. Rolex movements have always been made in Bienne, Switzerland. The founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf wrote in his memoirs:

"We want to leave to our factory in Bienne exclusively the production of watch movements, while we ourselves create in Geneva, case models adapted to the refined taste of the Genevans." —Hans Wilsdorf

Many years ago, Hans Wilsdorf made a partial investment in Aegler, and in 2004 Rolex completely bought-out the Aegeler/Borer family to obtain 100% ownership in Aegler S.A. For more than a century Rolex made all movements in Bienne, and then transported them to Geneva for installation into the final casing.

Rolex is one of the most secretive companies in the world, and in 2012, for the first time in history, Rolex  offered a glimpse of their world-class facility where all their watch movements are made. In 2013, Rolex invited me, along with Arial Adams, Benjamin Clymer and James Dowling to be the first journalists in history to tour all four Rolex manufacturing facilities in Switzerland, and I wrote about it extensively in my 3 Part Series titled, "Inside Rolex". The photo below shows the four of us inside the Rolex Campus in Bienne, Switzerland where all the Rolex movements are made. 

Benjamin Clymer, James Dowling, Ariel Adams, and Jake Ehrlich on November 19, 2013
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The first photo below shows the extension of the new Rolex manufacturing facility in Bienne, Switzerland, which now consists of over 250,000 cubic meters of space. 

Rolex Building 7 Completed in 2012 pictured above

All movement parts, from hairsprings to mainplates, are made in Bienne. Rolex does not publish their annual production output, but it is estimated approximately 2000 employees produce 50 million movement components annually–which end up in more than 750,000 Rolex automatic movements assembled per year in Bienne. 

[Note: How do we know that Rolex produces more than 750,000 movements annually, if Rolex is a privately-held company that does not publish such numbers? Because the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, is required to publish the exact number of movement (COSC) certificates for each brand, and in 2011, they published Rolex figures at 751,000 COSC movements.]

Before the movements are installed into Rolex cases in Geneva, they first travel to the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, where they are tested for Swiss Chronometer accuracy, and assuming they pass, are award the prestigious  C.O.S.C. certification.

This next photo shows the entire Rolex campus located in Bienne, Switzerland, in an industrial section, known as Champs-de-Boujean, with the Jura mountain range seen in the background.

Before we examine the all new extension, let's take a trip back in the Rolex Time Machine to learn about the history of Rolex movement making in Bienne, Switzerland.

Hans Wilsdorf

Founder of Rolex

Hans Wilsdorf (pictured below) founded Rolex in 1908 in London, England. If you are not familiar with The Hans Wilsdorf Story, you are in for a real treat.

Hans Hilsdorf, Founder of Rolex pictured above in 1905

Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex originally partnered with Aegler (in 1905). Aegler S.A. was located in Bienne, Switzerland, which specialized in making high-quality watch movements. Jean Aegler, founder of Aegler S.A. is pictured below. He passed away in 1891, at which time his son Hermann Aegler took over the family business.

Jean Aegler, Founder of Aegler S.A. is pictured above

Aegler S.A. original movement making headquarters were erected in 1878 and located in Bienne, Switzerland on a hillside that overlooked Bienne's Old Town. The old Aegler manufacturing facility is pictured below in this 1955 photo. 

Notice the Rolex signs on the two buildings pictured on the right side of the photos below. The Rolex extension was erected in 1914 by Hermann Aegler. Today these buildings are are officially a Bienne landmark, which represents a significant chapter of Bienne's watchmaking history.

The Aegler/Rolex Bienne Factory is pictured above in 1955

Aegler S.A. was founded in 1878 by Jean and Anna Maria Aegler at a time when Bienne was becoming a significant watchmaking capital. 

The Aegler/Rolex Bienne Factory is pictured above in 1955

Aegler was renowned for making very precise, small watch movements, which is exactly what Hans Wildforf was looking for to place into his Rolex wrist watches. 

In the photo below we see a Rolex draftsmen in 1955 at the Aegler facility working on designing the first true "in-house" Rolex movement, known as the Caliber 1500, which was formally introduced in 1957. 

The Rolex Caliber 1500 ended up being a work horse movement and was used by Rolex in watches up until 1990. It is fascinating to see that the draftsman had to stand up and draw a movement. The Rolex Caliber 1500 was the first Rolex movement that instantly changed the date. Rolex began replacing the Caliber 1500 in 1977 with the Caliber 3035. The Caliber 3135 Rolex movement eventually began replacing the Caliber 3035 in 1988.

The Aegler/Rolex Bienne Factory is pictured above in 1955

Update: Tommy Taylor wrote in after I published this article, and said:

Hi Jake,

I would say that the Calibre 1000, the base movement for the 1030 was really the first true in-house movment.

It was designed from the ground up as the flagship movement.  It wasn’t an adaptation of an earlier Aegler ebauche.

That is what I was told by my mentor who was a dealer in the 50’s and also a Certified Rolex Watchmaker by Rolex NY.



For many decades, Aegler grew as Rolex grew and they continued as the primary supplier for Rolex movements. This next rare vintage photo shows Aegler watchmakers making Rolex movements in the Aegler facility in Bienne, Switzeraland. 

The Aegler/Rolex Bienne Factory is pictured above in 1955

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual
The First Waterproof Self-Winding Watch

Rolex's Development of the Rolex Oyster in 1926 was an incredible horological achievement and complete game-changer. As we look back in the rear view mirror of history, this event probably represents the single greatest innovation in the watch industry. That being said, the remaining challenge was, it made it more difficult to manually wind a Rolex Oyster watch as you had to unscrew it first, then wind it, then re-screw the Oyster crown. 

After Hans Wilsdorf successfully brought the Rolex Oyster to market, he turned his attention to the other Achilles' heel of wrist-watches, and that was the lack of their ability to self-wind themselves.

Inventing the automatic, or perhaps auto-magic, wristwatch which could wind itself represented the dream-of-the-ages in the horological world. For centuries, many famous watchmakers tried to perfect the automatic or self-winding watch, but none were successful. 

This fascinating Rolex ad from the 1950s tells the story about how Rolex's brilliant chief technical director, M. Emile (Emil) Borer figured out how to perfect Abraham-Louis Perrelet's self-winding watch he invented centuries prior in 1770. 

Emile Borer
Chief Technical Director
Aegler Workshop. Beil, Switzerland

Emil Borer was the father of Harry Borer, who just passed away on June 16, 2017. Emile Borer, (pictured below) the Chief Technical Director of Rolex was mentioned in the ad above, as having been the person at Rolex who is credited with figuring out how to make the automatic movement work correctly by inventing and perfecting the modern rotor system.

Emile was the son-in-law of Jean Aegler. Jean Aegler was the founder of Aegler Workshop, who provided Rolex with all their movements. Emile Borer joined Aegler Workshop as an engineer during World War I, and he soon become responsible for developing new technology. In 1944, Emile Borer became the General Manager of the Aegler Workshop, which remained the primary supplier of Rolex movements until Rolex purchased Aegler Workshop in 2004.

In 1931 Rolex patented the Perpetual rotor which automatically wound the watch, thus eliminating the need to ever wind it again!!! This not only made it more convenient but also more accurate because the wrist watch would never stop automatically winding itself, so long as you wore it.

For those too young to remember, manual-wind wrist watches, required you wind them daily which was an inconvenience for most people, although some people, like train conductors liked it ;-))))))

The watch pictured pictured above and below was made in 1931, and Rolex put an exhibition caseback on it to easily show potential consumers how it worked. 

As you can see in the photo below there is a rotor that says "Rolex Auto Rotor", which automatically spins clockwise or counter-clockwise just from the movement of your wrist, thus "Automatically" winding the mainspring. In other words, even the slightest movement of your wrist (using gravity) will wind the watch, thus keeping the mainspring at optimum tension.

Rolex based the design of their perpetual rotor system on one that Abraham Louis Perelet developed in 1770, and in the years before Rolex perfected their methodology, there was a company named Harwood that created a self-winding rotor system that only moved clockwise, but had many challenges.

By creating an auto-winding or self-winding wristwatch, Rolex once again revolutionized the watch–and again, Rolex was not the first to explore creating a self-winding watch, but Hans Wilsdorf and Rolex were the first to perfect it, patent, and mass market it successfully.

The patent on the Rolex perpetual eventually ran out in 1948, at which time everybody was free to develop their own automatic rotor systems that used gravity to wind their movements–and they did...

Rolex Movement Making Facility

Bienne, Switzerland

In 2012, Rolex showcased their all-new expansion to the press. This following photos were all taken on site at Rolex's all-new Building 7 located in Bienne, Switzerland where all the Rolex movements are made.

This all-new structure began construction in 2009. It was designed to be extremely efficient and comfortable. The two photos below show how the skylights flood the building with natural light all-day long.

This next photo (below) shows a super, state-of-the-art robotized storage system, which allows Rolex to store and later recall watch movement parts.

So let's get back to Harry Borer, and the significant role he and his family played in Rolex History. Harry Borer's family literally made Rolex tick, in the sense they provided Rolex with the majority of their movements for 100 years before Rolex acquired their company. Harry's grandfather, Jean Aegler was largely responsible for putting Rolex on the map, and his father, Emile Borer was helped revolutionize the Rolex Oyster case, by successful developing the super-innovative Rolex 'Perpetual', which was the first viable automatic watch movement. Harry Borer, was responsible for helping Aegler grow from 150 employees is 1967 to 2,500 employees n 2001. 

Harry Borer (pictured above in 1995) was known for being an extremely low-key, down to earth man, as well as being very deeply committed to taking care of all of his employees. As a matter of fact, when he sold his remaining equity to Rolex, he insisted Rolex keep every employee, as he felt they were all part of the Rolex family.

As I mentioned earlier in this story, I had the opportunity to tour Rolex's movement-making factory in Bienne, Geneva, and is completely blew my mind!!! On the way to the new Rolex factory in Bienne, I took this photo of one of the old Rolex watch movement factories in Bienne.

The photo below was taken at a cocktail reception held in our honor after we toured the new Rolex facility in Bienne, which is where the Aegler/Rolex movement making factories made history by creating their super-precise Rolex Chronometer Movements. The photo below is fascinating as we see the Jura mountain range in the background as we look out the window. Arial Adams took this photo, and if you look closely, you can see his reflection on the right side of the photo, and I am pictured in the middle, wearing a maroon cashmere turtleneck, and James Dowling is to my left, pointing out the window. 

I included this photo as it is a reflection of the future of Rolex's movement making, which was deeply rooted in the Aegler/Borer family tradition, of which Harry Borer provided so many valuable contributions.