Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Complete History Of Rolex Mythbusting




The Complete History Of

Rolex Mythbusting


Separating Rolex Fact from Fiction 



"A lie gets halfway around the world before 
the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

—Winston Churchill


I am a few weeks away from beginning my 10th year of publishing Jake's Rolex World, which boggles my mind. I started Jake's Rolex World because I wanted to try and share all the Rolex watch and history insight I had gained over the past quarter century. I did so, because I had been madly in love with Rolex ever since I first noticed them when I was a teenager, and I wanted to learn and share even more about the most magnificent brand in the world. In other words, I wanted to learn much more about the history of the company that made the most timeless watches. I was fascinated with learning as much as I could about Rolex's 'Secret Sauce', and what made Rolex tick.

When I began deeply exploring Rolex history, I went after all the clues. I followed-up and researched every Rolex story I had heard, and while many of  them turned out to be true and have a basis in reality, that was not always the case. My original goal when I started Jake's Rolex World was to clarify the truth about Rolex history, which I believe I have done a pretty good job with. When a company exists like Rolex, it deserves nothing less than to have an accurate and precise record of its perpetual innovation and excellence. As the worlds leading Rolex historian I believe having false myths and false associations perpetuated about the brand does not serve Rolex well, and only serves to confuse people unnecessarily.

I have been meaning to write this story for a long, long time, so I am happy to finally separate-the-fact-from-the fiction and lay to rest all these falsely perpetuated Rolex myths. There have been many myths that were falsely perpetuated in the past regarding Rolex, and this story seeks to debunk and bust each and every one of them. The findings here are the result of more than a decade of research. 

If you anybody has any information that refutes any of my findings, please write-in and I will publish your findings in this story. That being said, I would be shocked. Where did these myths come from? How were they perpetuated if they are not true? Where did all this false association and attribution come from? Read on and find out for yourself:




False Myth #1
Eisenhower wore a Rolex Day-Date 



The first known falsely perpetuated Rolex myth I am aware of said the Rolex Day-Date model was named 'The President', because U.S. President Eisenhower wore one. This is not true. President Eisenhower indeed wore a yellow gold Rolex Datejust. this is an undisputed fact as witnessed in the photo below.


The truth is that President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first President Of The United States to wear a Rolex Day-Date. In the past I explored and figured out where the origins of the term "The Rolex President" watch came from.


To learn much more about this subject, checkout my story titled "The Complete History Of The Rolex President: The International Mrs Of Success."






False Myth #2
The Steve McQueen Explorer

This false Rolex myth has to do with The King Of Cool, Steve McQueen, and this false myth irks me the most!?!! Specifically, because several auction houses still have the gall and ignorance to keep perpetuating this extremely false myth by referring to the Rolex Explorer II, 'Orange Hand' Reference 1655 as "The Steve McQueen Exporer'.  

If an Auction house or Rolex vintage dealer uses the term, "The Steve McQueen Explorer", they are complete idiots and should not be trusted, as they have no idea what they are talking about. If they use this term they either lack real Rolex history knowledge or they are deceptive liars, or both. In other words, historically accurate credibility is important, and auction houses who try to auction a Rolex Reference 1655 Orange Hand Explorer and refer to it as a "Steve McQueen Explorer", are incompetent and don't know their Rolex history.

The classic Rolex Explorer II 'Orange Hand' Reference  1655 that has been falsely associated with Steve McQueen is pictured above



So where did this this falsely perpetuated myth come from and why does it still persist to this day? Some people have speculated that an unscrupolus Italian Auction house created this false association between Steve McQueen and the Reference 1655 'Orange Hand' Explorer II, because they wanted to help increase the prices at auction for this model. The logic is that since Paul Newman famously wore a Rolex Daytona, that if they could associate an Explorer II with Steve McQueen, it would make it cooler, thus achieving higher auction prices. Also, if you look at the photo above of Steve McQueen, it is possible that somebody saw this and falsely assumed he was wearing a Rolex Explorer II, which was NOT the case (pun intended ;-) As we see in the photos below, Steve McQueen famously wore a Rolex Submariner. 








False Myth #3
The Jean-Claude Killy Rolex Triple Date

This next myth was likely also created and perpetuated by an unscrupulous Italian auction house, which falsely attributed the Rolex Reference 6263 Triple Date 'Dato Compax', with Olympic Skiing legend, Jean-Claude Killy


The Rolex Triple-Date Chronograph that is commonly misattributed to Jean-Claud Killy is pictured below. There is NOT one photo of Jean-Claude Killy wearing this watch as he never wore this watch. Many of the early photos of Jean-Claud Killy show him wearing a Rolex Day-Date as pictured above.


It is also important to take into consideration that the Rolex Triple-Date Chronograph was made many years before Jean-Claude began wearing Rolex watches, and Jean-Claude was a cutting-edge modern guy, not a vintage guy. In this next photo we see Jean-Claude Killy pictured at L-Mans with Steve McQueen.



The SUPREME IRONY, is the Rolex Explorer II watch model that was falsely attributed to Steve McQueen, was in reality a watch model Jean-Claude Killy did actually wear, as witnessed by the next three vintage Rolex ads from the late 1970s. In other words, Jean-Clause Killy became a Rolex brand Ambassador just after he won the 1968 Olympics, and there would have been zero logic in him wearing a completely discontinued Rolex model.









False Myth #4
Gianni Agnelli Wore A Rolex Daytona

This is another weird falsely perpetuated Rolex myth, that says billionaire industrialist Gianni Agnelli wore a Rolex Daytona over his cuff. I kept hearing this, but there is zero truth to it. The weird thing this myth has in common with the Steve McQueen Explorer myth, is that people have told me on many occasions they actually saw a photo of him actually wearing the falsely attributed watch. I imagine this speaks to the power of suggestion, but the reality is that there is ZERO truth to this myth. In the photo below we see Gianni Agnelli wearing an Omega Seamaster Proplof over his shirt cut back in the 1970s. Wearing wrist watches on the outside of his shirt cuff was a trademark of Agnelli, but never with a Rolex.








False Myth #5
Rolex Is Owned By The Catholic Church

I first heard this years ago from a source I will not mention by name. They told me they believed Rolex was owned by the Catholic Church, which is not true, and it makes no sense for many reasons. My best guess is that somebody saw Pope John Paul II wearing his two-tone Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet, and somehow falsely attributed this association. It also could have to do with the fact that the Rolex Day-Date, Day dial has been traditionally offered in 26 different languages, and one of them is Latin, which is the official language of the Vatican.



The fact is that Rolex's founder, Hans Wilsdorf setup Rolex as a perpetual Trust in 1944, which is still run and owned by the Wilsdorf Trust. Also, Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex was a Protestant.






False Myth #6
Mt. Everest was conquered by the Rolex Explorer

This next false myth is very interesting. The myth put  forth Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norway were wearing Rolex Explorer models when they conquered Mount Everest in 1953. This is NOT true. The Rolex magazine ad below was published in 2003 and shows Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norway on Mount Everest.


The Rolex ad above may have possibly added to the confusion around this myth. The reality is that Rolex introduced the Rolex Explorer with the now classic 3, 6, 9 black dial in 1954 as an homage to Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's conquering of Mount Everest. One of the main reasons I have successfully been able to bust these falsely perpetuated myths over the years and dispel them is because when I learned of them, and went looking for the photographic evidence and could not find it, because it did not exist. 

After climbing Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary was considered to be one of the top explorer's on earth. in 1954, Hillary was on another Himalayan expedition, high on a peak neighboring Everest where he broke three of his ribs while rescuing one of his fellow climbers. He then caught pneumonia, and had to be removed from the mountain on a stretcher as seen below.



The photo above, shows Sir Edmund Hillary being place on a stretcher, and the fellow climber taking off Hillary's glasses seems to be wearing a Rolex Explorer with the black 3, 6, 9 dial.

The magazine ad below is from my 8 Part story titled "The Complete History: Rolex Conquered Mount Everest."



Back in 2008, when I was doing research on this story, I actually found Sir Edmund Hillary's Rolex he wore when he conquered Everest, which was in the Beyer Museum in Zurich, Switzerland. The photo below was exclusively taken by The Beyer Museum for Jake's Rolex World in 2008.






Bellow is a photo of Sir Edmund Hillary taken in 1953 and shows him wearing his Rolex Oyster Perpetual.



The Rolex Oyster Perpetual magazine ad seen below was published by Rolex in 1957 and shows a beautiful illustration of his white dialed Rolex Oyster he wore when he conquered Everest.








False Myth #7
Rolex Space Dweller

This next false myth I want to bust put forth the notion Mercury Astronauts visited and toured Japan in the mid 1960s, and were very popular, and as a result Rolex came out with the Rolex Space-Dweller for the Japanese marketplace. I don't believe this is true, and I have never found any evidence that any NASA Astronauts ever toured Japan.


Some people have questioned the validity of the Rolex Space-Dweller watch to begin with as it remains so enigmatic. It turns out it was a real Rolex made watch model as seen above, and as we see from the 1968 Rolex trademark registration seen below.












False Myth #8
Rolex did not go to the moon


Another myth that was falsely perpetuated said that Omega was the official moon watch and that no Rolex watches ever went to the moon, or were worn by U.S. NASA Astronauts on moonwalks. This is not true, as I discovered back in 2008, when I first went digging thought the NASA archives. The photo blow shows Dr. Edgar Mitchell as he suits up to leave for the moon aboard Apollo 14, and he is putting on two Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master watches—one on each wrist. You can learn much more about Rolex and NASA history by checking out my Rolex X-Files Story.









False Myth #9
COMEX developed the SEA-DWELLER

Another Persistent Falsely Perpetuated Myth I busted said Rolex developed the Rolex SEA-DWELLER with Comex. I discovered this to be a false myth and published my findings many years ago, but many, many sources ignored my findings, up until recently, when "scholarship" they discovered unequivocally refuted this notion and made the truth clear as day. Just to reiterate, COMEX had nothing to do with the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER.

Founder Of COMEX, Henri Delauze [1970]




 "The Rolex Submariner & Rolex SEA-DWELLER have a cachet that is unmatched by any other watch. The Rolex brand is the most highly respected in my book. The Rolex Submariner was the preferred diving watch for U.S. NAVY SEALAB Divers." –Scott Carpenter


How did I confirm for certain the fact COMEX had ZERO to do with the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER? I interviewed Comex founder, Henri-Germain Delauze many year ago and I asked him. He confirmed Comex had nothing to do with the development of the SEA-DWELLER as Rolex and Comex did not begin collaborating until 1972, which was 5 years after Rolex filed their patent application for the gas release valve for the SEA-DWELLER. I also asked Henri-Germain Delauze if he would pose for some photos that showed him wearing his trademark Rolex COMEX watch, and he obliged with the photo below which is exclusive to Jake's Rolex World.







False Myth #10
Chuck Yeager GMT-Master

The next false myth said that Chuck Yeager was wearing a Rolex GMT-Master when he was the first human to break the speed of sound barrier in 1947. This is not possible, as Rolex Did not introduce the GMT-Master until 1955. In the photo below we see General Yeager indeed wearing a GMT-Master, but he has worn many different Rolex models in his lifetime.






False Myth #11
Rolex watches are made from imported parts

I have heard some bizarre and viscous rumors in the past that suggest Rolex made parts and imported them from outside Switzerland. There is ZERO truth to this. I know because several years ago, I toured all for Rolex manufacturing facilities in Switzerland and saw everything with my own eyes. Rolex watches are made 100% from parts made in Switzerland.








False Myth #12
The Paul Newman Daytona

Another thing that drives me nuts, is how auction houses and vintage dealers refer to Daytona models that Paul Neman never wore as a "Paul Newman Daytona." It is a fact that Paul Newman wore several different Rolex Daytona models, but the only proper 'Paul Newman' is pictured below.


Rolex made many different variations of the "exotic" dial as seen above and below. In particular, they made different color combinations, as well as yellow gold versions, but Paul Newman never wore any of those watches, so people need to stop the false attribution and false association to Paul Newman. In other words, if a vintage Rolex does not look EXACTLY like Paul Newman's Own Rolex Daytona, which is pictured below, with all the colors just like this, it is not a Paul Newman Daytona.









False Myth #13
Paul Newman Winning

There is a second myth associated with Paul Newman that says he wore a Rolex Daytona in his 1969 racing movie, which is not true. Paul Newman did NOT wear a Rolex Daytona in the movie, Winning.




When you see photos like the two below you see how some people thought Paul Newman was wearing a Rolex Daytona Chronograph in the Movie Winning.






The screen grab I took for the movie 'Winning' is seen below, and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Paul Newman is NOT wearing a Rolex, at least the bracelet is NOT an kind of Rolex bracelet I have ever seen. 












False Myth #14
Paul Newman Submariner


There is a third myth associated with Paul Newman that says he wore a Rolex Submariner in the photo below. 





It turns out Paul Neman is NOT wearing a Rolex in the photo at the top of this story


Nick Gould from Deployant.com wrote an article that proved this watch is NOT a Rolex Submariner, titled, "A Follow Up: Paul Newman's Waltham/Blancpain Bathyscaphe Diver." In this brilliantly researched article Nick successfully separated the fact from the fiction and positively IDs this watch. The photos below are from Nick's superb article that shows Paul Newman wearing what appears to be, but is not a Rolex Submariner 6538.






Nick Gould from Deployant.com made a Positive ID on Paul Newman's watch pictured above, and said it is a vintage Waltham/Blancpain-Bathyscaphe Diver, which is very similar to the one pictured below.





False Myth #15
Communist Leaders Didn't wear Rolex

Before I got started with Jake's Rolex World a decade ago, there were people who said no Communist leaders wore Rolex watches. This is far from the truth. The reality is just about every major Communist leader wore a Rolex as seen below.




Both Cuban Communist revolutionary leaders Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara wore Rolex GMT-Master models.



 







Next up we see Chinese Communist, Chairman Mao Zedong, who wore two different Rolex Datejust models, which can be seen below his photo.









Next we see Leonid Brezhnev, who was the General Secretary of The Communist Party of The Soviet Union, ironically wearing the same yellow gold Rolex Datejust Chairman Moa wore, as seen in the photo above. Leonid Brezhnev was the first to propose "Perestroika", which was a policy or practice of restructuring and reforming the economic and political system. Perestroika was originally referred to as an increased automation of labor efficiency. In the final analysis Perestroika became know as a method of creating greater awareness of economic markets, and the end of centralized planning.





In the next photo below we see Soviet Communist  leader, Leonid Brezhnev kissing East German President, Erich Honecker during a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic in 1979. Notice East German Communist leader, Erich Honecker is also wearing a yellow gold Rolex Datejust. It is an ironic fact the Communists tried to keep capitalism outside by erecting a wall, yet they all wore Rolex watches, which were the ultimate Capitalist business tool watch!?!!



Lastly we see the first President of Russia, former Communist leader, Boris Yeltsin wearing his Rolex Datejust.









False Myth #16
Rolex Watches Don't Work In Space

When I started  Jake's Rolex World a decade ago, there was a myth that said Rolex watches don't work in space, and in particular, they automatic Rolex Perpetual motor does not work in space, so it can't wind the watch due to the zero gravity nature of space. I confirmed this myth was NOT true with NASA Astronaut, Dr. Leroy Chiao, who I did a podcast interview with back in 2008



If anybody would know, it would be Dr. Chiao, as he flew on four Space Shuttle Missions, and was the Commander of Expedition 10 on the International Space Station. Dr. Chiao is pictured below about the International Space Station, working out, and he is wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT Master.







False Myth #17
Rolex Watches Are Expensive

This is not really a myth per se, so much as it's a misconception. Expensive is a relative term. Yes, indeed, Rolex watches are not inexpensive to purchase, but they typically hold their value so well, that if you own one for say, twenty years, if you go to sell it, typically you will be able to sell it for more than you paid. This is particularly true of the sport models, like the Submariner and GMT-Master models. 

Think about it, how many things in your life that you have purchased, have appreciated in value over time as you use them? Not very many. Most Rolex watches hit their maximum acceleration on the depreciation curve just after they are purchased, and more typically than not, they begin to appreciate over time. It can also be argued that Rolex watches are a kind of international currency, in and of themselves—kind of like the dollar.

It has been very common over the years for people to ask me for investment advice on which Rolex watches to purchase. I typically advise people not to purchase a Rolex as an investment, but instead, I advise them to only buy a Rolex watch if they love it.

There are many well documented examples of a vintage Rolex that sold for around $120 a half century or so ago to sell now for more than $50,000. As I just mentioned, I typically don't offer investment advice, but I have never owned a Rolex that I did not end-up selling for more than I paid for it. In other words, one way I look at it, is that every Rolex I have ever owned, I got paid to wear ;-) Below is an example of a story that illustrates this point well:




Antiques Roadshow
1960 Rolex GMT Master
[Reference 6542]

"The Best Watch Ever Made!!!"
Bought 55 Years Ago for $120
Today is worth $70,000

This is a heartwarming story about a man who bought a Rolex in Germany in 1960, when he was stationed in the U.S. Army. He paid $120 for it, and freaked out when Antiques Roadshow advised him that his Rolex is worth between $65,000 and $75,000 today!!! That means it increased in value by 625 times in 55 years. That's a 6000% return on his initial investment. I highly recommend watching this video. 


An obvious question is how many more of these valuable watches are sitting around in drawers, slowly collecting dust, and the answer is many, many, many!!!! Most people see these old watches, and if they can't get the watch to work, they think its broken and worthless...What a World!!?!








If you are aware of a Rolex myth that is not listed in this story, please feel free to write in and share it with me. If is seems bonafide, I will investigate and publish my findings in this story.






False Myth #18
Robert De Niro Daytona

It has been said Robert De Niro wore a Rolex Daytona in the 2001 movie named "15 Minutes.", but after careful evaluation I realized it is NOT a Rolex. It sure looks like a vintage Daytona, but it is not. If you look closely, you can see the watch is lacking chronograph pusher buttons. Of course, Robert De Niro has worn many different Rolex watches thought his lifetime, and you can see them in my story on his amazing career achievements.








False Myth #19
"The California Dial" Nomenclature

There is an art-deco style of Rolex dial that is now commonly referred to as "The California Dial", which is pictured below in the vintage Rolex ad from the 1940s. The myth perpetuated suggested that Rolex was somehow inspired by California, when they came out with this dial style, which is not true.




For years, people have referred to these unusual dials as "California dials" and people ask me all the time why the California Dial is called, "The California Dial." In other words, what does it have to do with California? The photo below was taken by Harsam of his 1943 Rolex Bubbleback, which has an original Art Deco "California" dial.







Rolex Patent Application

June 15, 1942

Rolex applied for a patent for this dial on May 30, 1941, and the patent was granted on June 15, 1942, as seen in the patent application below. So where did the name, "California Dial" come from? It is likely that during the Bubble-back craze that occurred in the 1980s, there was a dial refinisher in California named Kirk Rich, that specialized in refinishing these dials, and that stores on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles that resold these watches, may explain where the "California Dial" nickname came from. You can learn much more about the history of these dials by reading "The Complete History Of The 'California Dial'—Rolex Myth Buster.









The patent application pictured above, when translated from French to English says:

The object of the present invention is a timepiece dial. This dial is characterized in that it comprises hourly signs constituted by Roman numerals and others by Arabic numerals. 

The accompanying drawing shows, by way of example, four embodiments of the object of the present invention. 

FIG. 1 is a plane of the first embodiment. Figs. 2, 3 and 4 are small-scale planes, the second, respectively the third and fourth embodiments. 

The dial of FIG. 1 is a round dial with an hour circle with twelve signs, one for each hour. The signs for hours 10 and 11 and 1 and 2 are Roman numerals, those for hours 4 and 5 and 7 and 8 by Arabic numerals and those corresponding to noon6 o'clock3 o'clock and 9 o'clock, By simple geometrical elements, namely a triangle and three horizontal sticks.

It will be seen that this layout gives a clear and simple turn of the hours, easy to realize with luminous material and allowing an easy reading of the time especially for wristwatch boxes whose dials are relatively small. In fact, the fact that the Roman numerals occupy half the dial and the Arabic numerals the other, clearly distinguishes these two halves. In addition, the Roman numerals chosen are those which are the simplest to perform and the easiest to read.

In the other three embodiments, the hourly sign corresponding to time 5 is constituted by the corresponding Roman numeral and the hourly sign corresponding to 6 hours is constituted by a very short vertical line. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the sign corresponding to noon, is indicated by a vertical line, in that of fig. 3, by two vertical lines and, in that of FIG. 4, by a short stroke surmounted by a half-circumference. Of course, the aforementioned provisions could be applied to dials of a shape other than round and other arrangements would still be possible


CLAIM

Dial of timepiece, characterized in that it comprises hourly signs co-located by roman numerals and others by arabic numerals. 

SUB-CLAIMS: 

1. Dial according to claim 1, characterized in that it comprises: In addition, time symbols constituted by triangular geometrical elements.
2. The dial as claimed in claim 1, wherein the symbols corresponding to the hours 10 and 11 and 1 and 2 are constituted by Roman numerals.
3. Dial according to claim 4, characterized in that the signs corresponding to Hours 4, 7 and 8 are Arabic signs.
4. Dial according to claims 1 to 3, characterized in that the corresponding 5-hour sign is the corresponding Roman numeral.
5. Dial according to claim 1, characterized in that the remaining digits are constituted by geometrical elements.
6. Dial according to claims 1 to 3, characterized in that the sign corresponding to 5 hours is constituted by the corresponding Arabic numeral.
7. Dial according to claim 6, characterized in that the remaining signs are constituted by the geometric elements.


MONTRES ROLEX S. A. Mandataire A. BUGNION, Genève.

1 comment:

Faith+1 said...

Excellent article! Good work as always Jake!

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