Saturday, October 08, 2022

How Apple Borrowed Rolex's CosPlay Book

A Tale of Two TOOL Watches

"Every EXPLORER has a packing list, the essential TOOLS for heading out into the unknown. We put as many of those TOOLS on your wrist as we could. The result is the new Apple Watch Ultra..."  


(Introduction to Apple Watch Ultra Introduction Video)

How Apple Borrowed

Rolex's CosPlay Book

When I watched the Apple Watch Ultra introduction video (seen below) I was not expecting to see a Rolex Exploration video, but that was what I strangely felt like I was seeing...This article enumerates in detail many of the bizarre similarities...But don't take my word for it, watch Apple's Ultra watch video and decide for yourself:

Before we dive in to this story let's get a few key definitions out of the way: 

1. Cosplay: Rolex is the King of COSPLAY. As a matter of fact, I would argue Rolex invented watch cosplay back in the 1950s when they made dedicated tool watches for different objectives. If you wanted to emulate Jacques-Yves Cousteau or Sean Connery as James Bond, you might sport a Rolex Submariner. If you wanted to be Chuck Yeager, you might sport a GMT-Master. If you wanted to be Paul Newman, racing on a track, you might rock a Rolex Daytona. If you wanted to be Sir Edmund Hillary conquering Everest you might consider wearing a Rolex Explorer. Want to be a President like Eisenhower or a Civil Rights Leader like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Rock a yellow gold Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee Bracelet, or if you want to be LBJ or Trump, rock a Day-Date on a President Bracelet. You get the idea...

The term or word "COSPLAY" is a portmanteau of the words, COSTUME + PLAY. The term Kosupure which was anglicized to COSPLAY was coined by a Japanese reporter named Nobuyuki Takahashi of Studio Hard, from the Magazine, My Anime in 1984 when he was covering the World Science Fiction Convention held in Los Angeles, California. The meaning of COSPLAY is "dressing as a character". So for instance, if a man were to dress up like Captain Kirk or don some pointy ears with a Star Trek uniform, he would be Cosplaying as Mr. Spock. In the simplest sense, you could describe Cosplay as role-playing.

2. ULTRA means "beyond" in latin, and is typically used to describe an extreme, or carried to the furthest degree possible...

The Apple Ultra is pictured above on a Midnight Apple Braided Solo strap, and in the photo below we see the Midnight Ocean Band on an Ultra, which give it a 1980s Seiko dive watch/ Casio G-Shock kind of vibe/look...The Apple Watch Ultra could be described as the Tesla Cybertruck of watch world, in the sense that it is big and bold at 49MM, has ultra-modern simple lines, and has a huge battery that last twice as long as any Apple Watch model that came before it. It also incorporates a bit of a brutalist design language, coupled with a bunch of new fairly innovative features.

Can something be the same and the opposite at the same time? 

Rolex and Apple have a lot in common, as they are two of the most successful and respected iconic brands on earth. In the past, I wrote 3 different articles covering Apple's launch of their new Apple Watch Ultra. I first began writing about the Apple Watch on before it even came out. I believe EXPLORING the dichotomy between Apple and Rolex is a fascinatingly worthwhile endeavor.


Point / Counterpoint

One perhaps not so obvious question is: "Are Rolex and Apple watches on a potential collision course?" I will answer this question from both sides of the coin: 

One side of the coin would say:

"Nope. If anything Apple helped make Rolex even way more successful when they introduced the Apple Watch as it caused a new generation to become preoccupied with the wrist, by calling so much attention to it. Essentially, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

If you closely study the facts you will recognize just after Apple originally launched their Apple Watch in April 2015, Rolex's success went next-level. This was due to the fact many people got sick of their Apple watches and sought to EXPLORE more options for the wrist. I mean everybody and their mother is wearing an Apple Watch these days. You walk down any street and you see people on their iPhones wearing Apple watches. Rolex is a luxury watch brand, catering to a completely different market segment, so they have nothing to worry about. Also, Rolexes are way better as you don't have to charge them every day!" 

Apple added Rolex style crown guards to their Apple Watch Ultra as well as a flat sapphire crystal

The inverse flip-side-of-the-coin argument would say:

"Apple initially tried to compete with Rolex when they introduced their yellow gold Apple Watch at a price point starting at $10k, but nobody bought them since Apple watches become obsolete so quickly—but we see Apple was obviously gunning for Rolex. It's just a matter of time before Apple eats Rolex's lunch—if they can figure out how to, not to mention, look at how far Apple has already come in 7 short years! Imagine where they will be in 20 years, since technology years can be measured like dog years, where each year is the equivalent of 7 years. (Think Interstellar Reference ;-)"

So what do I think? What is my personal opinion as how this will ultimately play out? In other words, 20 years from now, in 2042 when we look back in the rear view mirror of life what will we see? As somebody once said, "It's impossible to know the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin." I think if Apple can make their watches so over-the-top useful and necessary, they could do damage to Rolex. But, maybe Rolex will just keep doing what they do best, and will be able to weather any storms and prevail as they always have. The kinkiest potential outcome would be if at some point Apple and Rolex were to collaborate and make a smart Rolex!?!!

BTW: The Apple Watch Ultra also really reminds me of the Rolex DEEPSEA as far as its thickness and heft, as seen below. Also, the DEEPSEA has a very low sapphire crystal, which also kind of reminds me of the Ultra.

A few weeks ago, when I first saw the brand new Apple Rolex Explorer, Ooooops, I meant Apple Watch Ultra, I was shocked at how much it reminded me of the Rolex Explorer II, and I wrote an article named "Apple Titanium 49MM Beast/Apple's Ultra-DEEP-SEA/Explorer.

Captain Danny's photo above of his Rolex Explorer next to the Apple Watch Ultra perfectly illustrates my initial Deja Vu response

A Borrowed 6, or 9?

My understanding is Apple's internal codename for the Apple Watch Ultra development was "The Explorer," and it is apparent the Apple Ultra is a nod to the Rolex Explorer in MANY ways! 

This article goes into far more detail on how Apple carefully studied Rolex's CosPlay book when bringing their Apple Watch Ultra to market than my article from September 9, 2022 titled "More on Apple Copying Rolex..." Let's begin with this first example:

Below we see a photo of the"9" marker on the Rolex Explorer next to the Apple Ultra Alpine loop buckle which looks remarkably similar to the 6 and 9 Typeface [Fifteen minute markers] on the Rolex Explorer dial which is pictured above. Hmnnn!?!!

The Locking slip-through Buckle on the Apple Alpine Loop looks remarkably similar to the 6 & 9 on the Rolex Explorer Dial

Below we see a Rolex Explorer with its iconic 3, 6, 9 dial, and notice the buckle pictured above on the Apple Ultra looks very similar to the 6 and 9 on the Rolex Explorer dial. Is this a not-so-obvious clue hiding in plain sight, or just a coincidence? I will let you be the judge of this seemingly bizarre 'coincidence'.

So why do I even care? Why am I writing this article? Because I believe Rolex and Apple are THE two most relevant watchmakers today. This really can be seen as a battle of the two giants if watchmaking. Rolex being the old-school incumbent disruptive innovator, and Apple being the disruptive new-school innovator. 

If you think Apple is not obsessed with displacing/crushing Rolex, take a look at the screenshots above and below that show Apple CEO, Tim Cook in 2017 saying the Apple Watch Surpassed Rolex to become the Number 1 watch in the world. The bizarre detail is Tim never mentioned which metric he was referring to?!! Do I think Rolex feels threatened by Apple? Nope. I have very little evidence to suggest Rolex even took much notice. Also, Rolex is so committed to the perfection of analog watches, there is no turning back even if the wanted to as it would be way too late in the future. I know many, many collectors are very happy and content with this stance...

In the video below we see Apple Co-Founder, Steve Jobs mention "We (Apple) have always been shameless about stealing great ideas". Hmmmmmn!?!! BTW: This is an age-old argument, as one could argue there is no such thing as as an original idea or concept, as everything is derivative in-one-way-or-another of everything else...I am not defending Steve's statement, but pointing out the converse argument...I would add to that by saying: if Good artists copy, and Great artists steal, then true artists CREATE!!!!!

"We (Apple) have always been shameless about stealing great ideas!" 

—Steve Jobs

Because It's There

The image below is a screen grab from a story I published in 2010 when Rolex introduced the 39MM Explorer. This ad asked "What's your Everest?" This featured a quote from mountaineer, George Mallory, who was once asked: "Why do you climb Mount Everest?" to which he simply responded "Because it's there!"


Below we see Rolex's original "Because It's There" video from 2010:

The image below is a screen grab from Apple's Ultra introduction video and they ask "What will your anything be?"

Apple Watch Ultra Video Introduction Image

Even the Apple Watch Ultra packaging—which is pictured below—reminds me of the 2010 Apple ad.

Another super-iconic Rolex identity piece Apple seems to have (ahem!?!!) 'borrowed' from Rolex is seen below. Maybe I'm hallucinating and my hypothesis is inaccurate, but the similarities are uncanny. Back in 2019, I published a story named "Rolex Dial Comes To Apple Watch", in which I pointed out Apple had borrowed Rolex's Error Proof Dial, also known as The California Dial...

Apple Watch Launch Video with Classic Rolex Error Proof 'California Dial'

Above we see Apple Watch Lead Kevin Lynch at the Apple Watch event showcase the new Apple Watch with a simulated Rolex Error-Proof dial, for which Apple failed to acknowledge as having been borrowed from Rolex.

Apple Watch Launch Video with Classic Rolex Error Proof 'California Dial'

We see Rolex's Error Proof dial in a magnificent Art-Deco poster below from 1943.

Rolex Patent Application

California Dial

June 15, 1942

In the past, I have written extensively about the art deco Rolex California Dial. The significance of this dial is it's the basis of the dial on the Rolex Submariner, SEA-DWELLER and GMT-Master. I also made its way onto some of the vintage Panerai models Rolex made for the Italian Royal Navy back in the 1940s. As far as I am concerned this patented dial is a historical trademark of Rolex...

The 1943 Swiss Rolex ad below shows a Rolex with what is now commonly referred to as a "California Dial."

Conquering The Rolex Matterhorn 

When I first saw the Apple Watch Ultra photo below bells and alarms starting ringing in my head...I had a serious Deja Vu moment, as I was certain I had seen this image somewhere in the past!?!! Hmnnnn!?!!

Apple Watch Launch Video

It took me a few days, but I figured out why it looked so familiar and where I had seen an extremely similar image!: Below we see a Rolex Explorer ad from 1964. Hmnnn...Basically, Apple copied a Rolex ad from 58 years ago, or at least 'borrowed' the vibe/mojo, including the super dirty/masculine climbers hands...

Apple Watch Launch Video

The image above is a screen grab from the official "Introducing Apple Watch Ultra | Apple" video seen below. Once again, it's uncanny how similar of a vibe this image has with the 1964 Rolex Explorer ad pictured above. 

One funny thing I could not help but notice about the Apple Watch Ultra video above is the narrator has a nasally voice that is remarkably similar to former U.S. President Trump. Don't believe me, listen to it carefully and imagine The Donald is narrating, although I am certain he would use more superlatives: It's Yuge, The likes of which nobody has ever seen before...Believe Me, Believe Me!!!! :-)

Explorers, Exploration, Explorers, Explorers

Explore, Explorer, Explore, Explore, Explorer

So how preoccupied was Apple in their presentation with using the word Explorer? In this video clip below which our Captain Danny put together, we hear the word Explorer 9 times!!!

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, which is profoundly true if you think about it...

1964 Rolex Explorer Ad v. 2022 Apple Explorer Ultra Ad

Apple Watch Ultra


Rolex Explorer 'Orange Hand'

Rolex invented fantasy watch role-playing back in the mid 1950s, which today is known as watch cosplay. I would ague Apple Watch Ultra is the Rolex Tool watch of smartwatches as well as being the CyberTruck of watches with its over the top simple yet huge ultra-modern disruptive vibe. Apple clearly borrowed a number of tips from the Rolex Cosplay Playbook and has attempted to incorporate them into one next level ‘TOOL’ watch, and they named it Ultra. 

Captain Danny took this brilliant photo in the Apple Store which perfectly captures the similarities between the Apple Watch & Rolex Explorer.

In many ways the Apple Ultra—due to its 49MM size and thickness—reminds me of the Rolex DEEP-SEA as well as some of the larger/chunkier/fatter 47MM Panerai models.

The Apple Ultra is much more masculine, if not more macho than the 45MM Apple Watch model, and its clean industrial looking lines give it a bolder/stronger vibe. 

I believe Apple made one tool watch that is meant to incorporate all Rolex tool watches into one model. In other words, the Apple Ultra is a diving watch like the Rolex Submariner, but it's got a much fatter, bigger body like a 43MM SEA-DWELLER or DEEP SEA. It's also a GMT-Master, Explorer, Explorer II, Yacht-Master, and Daytona all mixed into one simple model.

One fascinating clue about the potential success of the Apple Watch Ultra may come from an experience I had when I was in the Apple store while checking out the Ultra. I met a dude named Jazzy. He walked over to the table where I was examining the Apple Watch Ultra, and we struck up a nice conversation. Jazzy @jazz1sanhu, said something really profound that stuck with me. He said:

"I am a watch collector. I love Rolex, and other brands. I never liked the Apple Watch as I thought it was too feminine—even at 45MM, but the Apple Watch Ultra changes that as it's much more masculine and macho! I wear a Tag/Heuer (seen in his photo below in his hand), and I was contemplating purchasing the Tag/Heuer smart watch which is $3k, but after seeing the Apple Watch Ultra, it completely blows away the Heuer, so I am going to buy an Ultra instead!!!" Hmnnnn!?!!

Don't Try This On A Rolex 

If you were to destroy an $800 Apple Ultra, it probably wouldn't be the end of the world, but if you were to subject a Rolex to an endurance test like the one in the video below, it would cost much more than $800 to repair it...

It's interesting to note in the video above we see the Series 8 Apple Watch crystal fail almost immediately after being subject to damage, which is made out of some kind of plastic-like glass, while the Ultra which is features a synthetic sapphire crystal features glass that not only doesn't scratch, but seems to be unbreakable. It's worth noting Rolex has used ONLY sapphire crystals for many decades now, as they abandoned acrylic crystals a long time ago. 

It also interesting to note that Rolex sapphire crystals are always proud of the bezel, if not close to flush, which means the crystal protects the bezel, whereas with the Apple Ultra, it's the opposite in the sense the bezel protects the crystal, this the bezel on the Apple Watch Ultra is more likely to get scratched. I am not saying one way is merely better than the other, this is just merely an observation.

In the future I plan to do a detailed review of the Apple Watch Ultra, and I will compare it to Rolex tool watches, so stay tuned...

Men & Their Machines

I realize some people will read this article and be like: "Why is Jake talking so much about Apple Watch on Jake's Rolex World!?!!" Therein lies the answer. 

Men have always been fascinated by machines, mechanics and technology. There have been many famous men who started out wearing mechanical Rolex watches, then switched to digital, then back to mechanical Rolex. One great example would be Paul Newman. This is the nature of man, to explore all the options put before him. It's always been this way, and likely will remain this way indefinitely...

One More Thing

When I first saw the Apple Watch Ultra introduction video I really felt like I was watching a Rolex Explorer video. The Apple video features this dude who is an explorer climbing around on rocks:

Apple Watch Ultra Video Introduction Image

Hmnnnn!?!! I wonder where that idea came from?: It sure reminds me of Alain Hubert who is a Rolex exploration ambassador who is pictured below. To my way of thinking, it looks like the ad team at Apple just looked at old Rolex ads and made a video montage of them.

Once again, the dude from the Apple Ultra video below looks an awful lot like Alian Hubert.

Apple Watch Ultra Video Introduction Image

Again, we see the real Alain Hubert in a Rolex Explorer ad below.

This next black and white image is from The Apple Ultra video.

Apple Watch Ultra Video Introduction Image

The screen grab above from the Apple Ultra video reminds me of this vintage Rolex SEA-DWELLER Magazine ad.

Here again, is yet another pretty blatant example of Apple borrowing Rolex collateral material. The graphic below is from when Rolex launched back on December 12, 2018.

And notice it look like apple almost used the exact same image as seen below in the Apple Watch Ultra launch video image seen below.

Apple Watch Ultra Video Introduction Image

Just for the hell of it, I put the two images next to each other, and I made the one black and white, and it's difficult to tell hem apart if you ask me:

Apple Watch Ultra Video Introduction Image next to Image

And yet again, we see another screen grab from the Apple Ultra video that looks remarkably similar. I could keep going, with even more similarities, but I am certain you get the idea...

Apple Watch Ultra Video Introduction Image

Below, we see a screen grab form the Apple Ultra Promo of two mountain climbers that are tethered as they make their way up to the summit.

Apple Watch Ultra Video Introduction Image

To my way of thinking, it sure does look like a recreation of this "Everest Leader's Tribute to Rolex" Magazine add from the mid 1950s seen below. Doesn't it?

There was an image of a surfer in the Rolex Ultra Video, as seen below in the screen grab.

Apple Watch Ultra Video Introduction Image

When I saw the image above of the surfer rocking an Apple Watch Ultra, it reminded me of this vintage Rolex Submariner ad from Argentina.

When I saw this last image below of a cave diver in the Apple Ultra video, again it gave me a Deja Vu vibe.

Apple Watch Ultra Video Introduction Image

For some reason, the image above from the Apple Ultra video remind me of this Rolex SEA-DWELLER Ad: