Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Complete History Of The Rolex President [Part 17]

Part 17

The Complete History Of The Rolex President

Origins Of "The Rolex President" Watch Name

Part 11 of The History Of The Rolex President series, focuses on exploring origin of the term The Rolex President, and part 12 will focus on the evolution of the Rolex Day-Date models.

The Rolex President
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson
Yellow Gold Rolex Day-Date
White House Oval Office
Washington D.C. 1965

Have you ever wondered where the term The Rolex President came from? It has taken me many years to finally solve the mystery of how, when and where exactly the name The Rolex President came from. The Rolex President Watch for many decades has symbolized and been equated with being The International Mark Of Success and Achievement.

Rolex marketing, in the United States has always been handled through the adroit marketing firm of J.Walter Thompson. In 1966, J. Walter Thompson came up with the Rolex magazine ad pictured below, which ran in the United States.

1966 Rolex President's Watch Ad
The Presidents' Watch

It is amazing when you think about it, how remarkably timeless this vintage 1966 Rolex Day-Date ad is. It features a wrist shot of a man wearing a yellow gold Day-Date holding a red phone in his hand. Kind of reminds me of Commissioner Gordon talking on the red Batphone ;-) 

It is interesting to note, in this 1966 Rolex Day-Date watch ad, how the title says "The presidents' watch." This of course, is referring to then elected, U.S. President, Lyndon Johnson. This moment in Rolex history represented a high-water-mark–having the sitting U.S. President wearing Rolex's flagship watch model.

Men Who Guide The Destinies Of The World Wear Rolex Watches
Magazine ad from the mid 1960s

I think I love vintage Rolex magazine ads as much as I love vintage Rolex watches. Historically, Rolex tends to run themed ads for long periods of time, and one of the most remarkable is the "Men Who Guide The Destinies Of The World Wear Rolex Watches" which ran from 1956, during the Dwight Eisenhower Presidential administration, through the Lyndon Johnson administration. 

This particular magazine ad ads another dimension or piece of the puzzle to The Complete History Of The Rolex President. In particular, it is fascinating to see how much Rolex went out of their way to prove themselves 50 years ago. Today, Rolex has little to prove, since they have successfully become the international mark of success, but learning how Rolex achieved this is just fascinating.

I scanned and restored this vintage Rolex ad, but the page had no date on it. So how do I know it is from the mid 1960s? For one, the Rolex Day-Date pictured is a more modern model, and in the description under the photo, Rolex refers to the "President bracelet, designed by Rolex for the Day-Date." To the best of my knowledge, Rolex first began referring to the the Day-Date bracelet in 1965, which was a year after U.S. President, Lyndon Johnson began wearing what became his trademark yellow gold Rolex.

It's profoundly ironic, how in this ad, which was published around the time I was born, Rolex talks about how famous people you see everyday wear Rolex, and suggest that next time you see them, you should look to see if they are wearing a Rolex. Why is this ironic? Because I have been doing this now for almost 5 years straight, on Jake's Rolex World, and that is really one of the main signature features of Jake's Rolex World Blog, is that I find and showcase photos of famous, successful people wearing their Rolex watches ;-)

Another Red Phone

Speaking of Rolex ads with men wearing a Rolex Day-Date with a Red telephone in their office, if you scroll down the page to the Mark McCormack Rolex ad from 1986, you will notice he also has a Red phone, except his is push button instead of a dial phone like the one in the picture below.

A supreme irony is that if Rolex made this ad today the man in the ad would have an iPhone 4s in his hand. Part of the irony in this is that in the last 45 years since this ad was published, telephone technology has changed radically, and Rolex still makes this exact same model, and it looks identical–talk about timeless design!!!

The 1966 Rolex Day-Date ad above has a headline that reads "The presidents' watch." In 1965, just after U.S. President Lyndon Johnson had a gaul-bladder operation, he emerged and showed the press his scars, and there he was wearing his now trademark yellow gold Rolex Day-Date and he wore it very proudly.

Lyndon Johnson was the second U.S. President to wear a modern Rolex, and the first to wear a Day-Date, with a Rolex "President" bracelet.

1984 Rolex President Ad
Rolex Coolness: Mark McCormack
Another Rolex Myth Busted And Mystery Solved!!!

This is the quintessential 1980s Rolex ad. In 1986 Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States and Rolex was reaching new heights in status and popularity.

This cool vintage Rolex ad has a very interesting detail. One of the unanswered Rolex folklore questions (until today) always was:

Where did the term The Rolex President come from?

It has always been put forth that Rolex began referring to the bracelet on the Rolex Day-Date, as "The President" bracelet (around 1966) but never referred to the the actual Day-Date as The Rolex President. It was believed that people just started refering to the Rolex Day-Date as The President, but that Rolex never specifically referred to it as such.

It turns out that was a false myth and for the first time, as early as 1984 we have direct evidence of Rolex specifically referring to a watch model named:

"The Rolex President Day-Date Chronometer. Available in 18kt. gold, with matching bracelet."

This ad was very popular in the 1980s and I believe it clearly proves it was indeed Rolex that specifically coined the term: The Rolex President.

Wow!!!!! Rolex appears to have briefly referred to the watch as The Rolex President, then they stopped, and went back to calling it just The Day-Date, but the term "The Rolex President" stuck, and once the cat was out of the bag, that was it!!!!! Another fascinating Rolex mystery solved!!!!!!


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