Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The Vintage Rolex Christmas Ads & Black Tie Guide...

The Vintage Rolex Christmas Ads

Viewing Rolex Christmas Ads Through Time

I hope everybody is having a great holiday season! Every year, around Christmas time, I publish this Rolex Christmas History, and each year I update it. 

For the 2023 Holiday Season Rolex.com seems to be pretty low key with a Rolex Explorer winter snow theme, unlike 2021 where they featured Princess Grace Kelly's image which has a definite red, white and black Christmas vibe...

Rolex used to publish Rolex Christmas ads, but I don't recall ever seeing one in a magazine in my lifetime. It is interesting to note the Rolex Christmas magazine ads only ran while Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex was alive. Speaking of Hans Wilsdorf, there is a superb Season's Greetings magazine ad from 1948. Be sure to check it out as it is as on-point today as it was back then.

1926 Rolex Art-Deco Christmas Ad

This first Rolex magazine ad is from 1926, and the illustration exhibits a high art-deco style. It is interesting to note that Rolex introduced the Oyster in 1926, but it is not mentioned in this super stylish ad.

Make it a ROLEXMAS

1927 Rolex Christmas Ad

This next Rolex ad is from 1927 and features Mercedes Gleitze after she swam the English Chanel. You gotta love the  "MAKE IT A ROLEXMAS" slogan! Rolex was so modern, hip and ahead of their time...

1928 Rolex Christmas Ad

When this Rolex magazine advertisement was published in 1928, Rolex had already been in business for almost a quarter of a century. There is only one Rolex Oyster model that appears in this ad, as Rolex had just successfully introduced the Oyster as the worlds first waterproof watch, one short year earlier in 1927. The Rolex Oyster is pictured in the upper-right-hand-corner, and it has a classic cushion case, with soldiered on lugs, which looks very art-deco and Panerai-like. 

Also, notice there are no classic round Oyster cases in this ad. In other words, there are no watches in this ad that look like contemporary Rolex watches. Instead, we old see highly stylized cases, with lots of curves and right angles. Also notice the now classic five-point Rolex crown logo is completely absent, despite having been registered three years earlier in 1925. If you examine the ad, you also notice none of the Rolex models have names yet—just numbers, like No. 5, No. 12, and No. 40.

1930 Beautiful Rolex Christmas Ad

This next stunning art-deco vintage Rolex ad from 1930 that features a woman sporting the flapper look. It was published in the British publication named "The Tatler" in 1930. This ad was published at a fascinating and optimistic time in Rolex history. Several years prior, Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex had recently completely revolutionized the world of watches, when Rolex introduced the worlds first waterproof watch, known as the Rolex Oyster. Notice in this ad, it is the first time we see The Rolex Prince Model. Also notice the Rolex 5-point crown logo is absent, despite having been registered five years earlier in 1925.

I believe this beautiful ad reflects Rolex absolute optimism at this time. Notice how the ad uses the term wristlet instead of the commonly used term of today which is 'wristwatch'.

1931 Art Deco Divinity

Early Rolex Hotness

Rolex used the same beautiful woman image again in 1931 as we see in this similar but different British magazine ad. Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf's had launched his revolutionary Rolex Oyster back in 1926 which was the worlds first real waterproof watch and when this magazine ad was published, he had just launched his next huge innovation this same year in 1931, which was the Rolex Perpetual–the first self-winding watch in the world!!!!

Christmas 1931 was a great Christmas for Rolex and Hans Wilsdorf!!! I LOVE the style of this ad. It is hyper-elegant, stylish, pretty, feminine and très chic...

1932 Graphic Christmas

Observatory Precision

This is a really fascinating art deco Rolex ad which was highly modern. It features a cushion case Rolex Oyster, as well as a magnificent Rolex Prince, and Princess.

1933 Rolex Christmas Tree

This next Rolex holiday ad from 1933 shows a Christmas Tree and focuses on the Rolex "PRINCESSE" in French.

1934 Precise Time On The Arm Ad

This next Rolex holiday ad from 1934 is also very interesting. Notice we see the Rolex crown sprinkled all over the ad, and the 'ROLEX' typeface is not much bolder. We also see the addition of names to describe the models, including The Rolex Prince & Rolex Princess models. In this ad we also see for the first time, the classic round dial Rolex Oyster Perpetual case, which is similar to what we see today with most Rolex watch models. Rolex had only recently brought to market the Rolex Oyster 'Perpetual' model, which was the first watch to be able to wind itself automatically, by capturing the movement from arm movement. The slogan under the Rolex name and crown logo reads, "Precise Time On The Arm."

It took Rolex 20 years before they came up with their crown logo which they introduced in 1925. If you examine all of the ads, which run from 1935 to 1948, you will notice how much the Rolex crown logo evolved. Over the 12 year span from 1935, we witness the evolution of the crown from a kind of primitive version to the timeless logo which has not changed very much over the past half-century.

1935 French Rolex Noel Ad

Next, we examine this vintage Rolex ad from 1935 that was published in France. The watches in this ad are art-deco and more dress watch oriented.

1936 British Rolex Noel Ad

Next, we examine this vintage Rolex ad from 1936 that was published in England in the Punch or The London Charivari. 

1937 French Rolex Noel Ad

Next, we examine this vintage Rolex ad from 1937 that was published in France. 

1938 French Rolex Christmas

We see in this next French Rolex Christmas ad that with all the different Rolex ads, Rolex is really beginning to hit its stride. I really like the artwork in this ad.

1938 Hong Kong Christmas Gifts

Nick Gould discovered and shared this Rolex Christmas Gifts ads which covers a number of early bubble back models as well as Rolex Prince models.

1942 World War II
Rolex U.S.A. Christmas Message

World War II was an extremely difficult time for most people on earth. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex was likely very, very frustrated by the mess the Nazi's and other axis powers made because it had a devastating financial impact on Rolex business.

The reason I suggest Hans Wilsdorf and Rolex must have been really frustrated is that Rolex had really begun to hit its stride, and Rolex wanted to capitalize on their patents on both the waterproof Oyster as well as the perpetual automatic movement. This spiritually uplifting ad was published in the United States in 1942.

Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex is pictured above in Geneva, Switzerland in his office at Rolex headquarters in 1942. He is also pictured below in one of his Rolex workshops in the photo below in 1942.

1943 Swiss Magazine Ad
Rolex Bubbleback

The image below is from a Swiss magazine that was published in 1943 and it shows a beautiful Rolex Bubbleback with a classic California dial, with Lake Geneva shown in the background. This watch was a harbinger of the magnificent art-deco design language that would evolve a decade later into the Submariner and GMT-MASTER.

1943 World War II
Rolex Christmas Magazine Ad

It is difficult to put into words how profound and optimistically prescient this next 1943 Rolex magazine advertisement was from the middle of World War II. It's also interesting that Hans Wilsdorf and Rolex were so distraught about the sad affairs of the world, Rolex published this add that was just an observation and a wish for the future. In other words, Rolex spent money to make this bold declarative statement and did not even show or mention a watch in the ad.

1944 World War II
Rolex Christmas Magazine Ad

In this next World War II Rolex Christmas Ad, you see how they were getting excited about the end of World War II:

1945 World War II
Rolex Christmas Magazine Ad

In this next World War II Rolex Christmas Ad, you can see that Rolex is relieved and back on its optimistic game:

1946 German Rolex Ad

Rolex was quick to get things back to normal just after World War, as we see in this very elegant German Rolex Christmas ad from 1946.

1947 French Rolex Ad

1948 Hans Wilsdorf Season's Greetings

The following magazine ad offered Season's Greetings and Happy New Year wishes from Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf to everybody in every country! As you can see by reading the Rolex ads during World War II, Hans Wilsdorf was really frustrated because the war made it challenging to import raw material for making watches, as well as making it seriously difficult to distribute Rolex watches internationally. With the war finally over, Rolex could really spread its wings and fly high and fast, and Hans Wilsdorf's jubilance is clearly communicated in this 1948 Rolex Season's Greetings ad. 

1948 was a very good year for Rolex and the world or exploration. Rolex and Hans Wilsdorf were moving full-speed-ahead into a wonderful new era. In 1948 Hans Wilsdorf was 67 years old, and despite his amazing achievements to date, the best was yet to come.

Rolex U.S.A. was so excited about the level of progress, they published the following magazine ad which featured Hans Wilsdorf, as the "Watchman Of Our Time." By the way, if you are wearing your Rolex as you read this, Hans Wilsdorf is still the "Watchman Of Your Time ;-)))"

1948 Rolex U.S.A. Christmas Ad
40th Jubilee Celebration

In this next Rolex Christmas ad from 1948, we see yet more evidence Rolex was back on top of its game. With the World War II fiasco behind it, it was smooth sailing. 1948 was Rolex's 40th anniversary so they named their new 5-link trademark bracelet, "The Jubilee Bracelet" as seen below on this first generation yellow gold Datejust. (The 40th Anniversary of most things is referred to as The Jubilee Anniversary).

We take having a date complication on a watch today for granted, but back in the late 1940s when Rolex was the first to introduce the date feature, it was considered a dramatically positive innovation. This all-new Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet is essentially the watch Rolex gave Dwight Eisenhower, who at the time was the Supreme Commander of NATO in Europe.

The yellow gold Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet is essentially The Father Of The Rolex President or Rolex Day-Date.

1958 Tiffany & Company Rolex Ad

The following Tiffany & Company Rolex Christmas Present ad offered two different Rolex Oyster Perpetual models.

1962 Rolex GMT-Master Ad

Nick Gould discover this really cool Rolex GMT-Master ad from 1962 which features a GMT-Master with crown guards.

Vintage Rolex U.S.A. Hotness Ad from 1968
When Pucci Dictates Glitter...Is It Chic To Flash A Rolex?
This is Rolex...The Christmas Watch For Golden Girls

1970 Tiffany & Co.

Rolex Time for Christmas Ad

This Tiffany and Company Rolex Magazine ad from 1970 is really interesting on many levels, as it showcases many Cellini models, but the Day-Date remains at the top position.

1970 Rolex Day-Date Ad

Speaking of Rolex and President. I love this Role Day-Date ad from 1970. In particular, I love the Bokeh balls from the Christmas lights in the background.

1979 Rolex Day-Date & Lady Datejust
Walnut Dial Models

The ad below is from 1979 and features the yellow gold Rolex Day-Date and Lady Datejust with matching Madrona wood dial, which is really beautiful.

2013 Rolex Festive Season Website
Rolex In The Digital Age

At Christmas, 2013 I  thought it would be interesting to compare the closest we can come to a Rolex Christmas or holiday season ad, which comes from Rolex's website with shows a bejeweled Rolex Day-Date, and it says "Discover the Rolex selection for the festive season."

Rolex Black Tie

Holiday 2016 Collection 

During the 2016 Holiday season Rolex.com featured a fascinating new section named Black Tie Watches, which shows how well many different Rolex Oyster Perpetual models work with being worn with black tie. 

The image below shows the gorgeous Rolex Brand Ambassador, Lindsey Vonn wearing a Rolex Submariner.

A family member of mine asked my advice recently on which Rolex he should purchase for his wife as a Christmas gift. I told him my best advice was not pick a Rolex watch for her, but to give her a Christmas card with a photo of a Rolex on it, and have it say, "I want you to chose your favorite Rolex as a Christmas gift from me." 

In other words, if you already know which Rolex somebody prefers, that makes it easy. But if you don't know, I think it is important to take them to a Rolex Authorized Dealer and let them spend some time exploring and trying on different models to see which one they like best. Or, have them go online and take a look at people wearing different Rolex models. After all, they are going to be wearing the watch for many years to come, so it makes perfect sense for them to make the smartest choice possible.

Vintage Rolex Black Tie

Since we are on the subject of Rolex being worn with black tie, I thought it would be fun to get in the Rolex Time Machine and travel back to look at some timeless photos of Rolex and Black Tie.

Hans Wilsdorf
Founder of Rolex

Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, is perhaps the first famous man to wear a Rolex with a tuxedo, as we witness in the only known video interview of Hans Wilsdorf, as seen below.

Ian Fleming
Rolex Explorer Reference 1016

Ian Fleming is the first person I am aware of and have documented who wore a Rolex sports watch with a Tuxedo as we see him wearing his Rolex Explorer in the photo below. Ian Fleming is most famous for having authored all the original James Bond series books. The image below was added to this story in Christmas 2017, and in my mind, it is the seminal "G-Money" shot of Ian Fleming. Why? In the photo below, Ian Fleming is more or less posing/Vogueing/fronting with his Rolex Explorer on his wrist, or as Grandmaster Flash would say, "...hangin' out tough, rockin' late at night!" 

In other words, in this magnificent photo above Ian is not only making a bold declarative statement with his watch but in the black tie photo, he looks the closest I have ever seen to look similar to his James Bond character he created. I believe it is likely Ian Fleming owned a Rolex Oyster Perpetual more than a decade earlier as seen below in the 1951 photo from Vogue Magazine, which shows Ian Fleming having a cocktail, with his friend and fellow playwright Noel Coward standing in the background.

In the 1951 photo above it looks like Ian Fleming is wearing a Rolex bracelet 

Ian began wearing his Rolex Explorer in sometime around early 1962. This was right around the time that Dr. No was released, which featured Sean Connery wearing a Rolex Submariner. Sean Connery was 6 feet 2 and was very muscular and large at the time, thus the Submariner fits him well. If Connery had worn a 36MM Rolex Explorer it would have looked too small on him. Ian Flemming was six feet tall and had a skinny build. Thus in the above photo of him wearing his Rolex Explorer with a black tie, he looks more like his James Bond character. Essentially he has taken on the persona of James Bond. Wearing the Rolex Explorer at the time was rather Avante-guard of him. Especially when you consider he was wearing a bulky Rolex sports tool watch with a black-tie tuxedo.

Earlier I mentioned that this newly discovered image of Ian Fleming was a seminal "G-Money" photo. What do I mean by that? There are certain images I have discovered and published over the years that I consider to be quintessential images of famous icons wearing Rolex sports watches. Example of other seminal Rolex "G-Money" shots would include the image below I originally published in 2011 of Pablo Picasso sporting his stainless-steel Rolex GMT-Master while wearing an American Indian Headdress

Another seminal "G-Money" shot I discovered an published back in 2008 shows Paul Newman wearing his trademark Paul Newman Daytona:

The supreme and unfortunate irony behind the photo of Ian Fleming wearing his Rolex Explorer is that within two years of the photo being taken he would be dead. Ian Fleming smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish, and it caught up with him just as he was reaching the apex/prime of his life. They say a man enters the prime of his life when he is 50 years old and reaches the peak of his life when he is 55 years old. For Ian Fleming, as he reached the peak of his prime, he, unfortunately, experienced early check-out. In other words, according to Maslow's Hierarchy, Ian Flemming reached the height of his powers at the highest level of the life pyramid, and achieved self-actualization, just as he fizzled-out...Oh, sweet irony of life...

James Bond
Rolex Submariner Reference 6538

This first image of Sean Connery as James Bond shows him wearing a white dinner jacket with a 'black tie'. In case you didn't know, white dinner jackets are supposed to be worn for semi-formal or formal 'tuxedo' events only during the spring and summer months (between Memorial Day and Labor Day), or in the tropics, or on a cruise ship.  

In Goldfinger, Sean Connery played James Bond and wore a Rolex Submariner [Reference 6538] as pictured below, on a Regimental belt strap. 

James Bond Inspired Ad
Rolex Submariner Reference 6538

I love this vintage Rolex ad below from 1965, it is so MAD MEN... Also, notice it say, "How come it's seen so much where the wettest thing around is a dry Martini? Who knows. Maybe it's because the black dial goes so well with a black tie. Ask Her. Maybe she knows." It continues with the slogan:

"When a man has a world in his hands, you expect to find a Rolex on his wrist"

Dr. Martin Luther King

Yellow Gold Rolex Datejust

Civil Right Leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is pictured below with Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, just after Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Notice Dr. King is wearing his yellow Gold Rolex Day-Date. 

Dick Bertram

Rolex Submariner SEA-Dweller

Dick Bertram was a boat making pioneer and legend. Today, his company still makes amazing boats. Among other things, Dick Bertram pioneered inventing the 'Cigarette' speedboats.

James Bond
Rolex Submariner Reference 5513

Next up we see George Lazenby playing James Bond in the movie, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."

Live & Let Die
Rolex Submariner Reference 5513

Next up we see Roger Moore who starred as James Bond in the 1973 movie, "Live & Let Die".

It is worth pointing out (no pun intended :-), that James Bond's Submariner was no ordinary Rolex. It has a spinning bezel that could cut through rope and had sharp teeth as you can see. 

Telly Savalas
Kojak Rolex Presidential

Next up we see the actor and fashion icon, Telly Savalas who most famously played Kojak, and we see him wearing a Rolex Day-Date model. Who loves you, Baby!?!!

1978 Telly Savalas Rolex Day-Date Ad

Kenny Rogers
Rolex Datejust

Next, we see Kenny Rogers back in the late 1970s, sporting his two-tone Rolex Datejust.

Yves Saint Laurent & Catherine Deneuve
Ladies Datejust

Next up we see designer Yves Saint Laurent with the beautiful actress, Catherine Deneuve. Notice that Yves is wearing a ladies Datejust, which is a little unusual. There were several gay men who in the 1980s wore ladies Rolex watches, including Andy Warhol. This is ironic in the sense that today most women wear men's Rolex watches.

Robert Redford
Rolex Submariner

Next, we see Robert Redford wearing his trademark stainless steel Rolex Submariner at the 33rd Annual Directors Guild Awards, which took place on March 14, 1981, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel located in Beverly Hills, California.

Paul Newman
Rolex Daytona

Chad McQueen Getting Married
Rolex Submariner

In this next image we see Chad McQueen getting married to Stacy Totten on May 23, 1987. Actually, Chad, who is Steve McQueen's son is wearing a white tie with tails while wearing his Rolex Submariner.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
@ Milton Berle's 80th Birthday Party

In the photo below we see Arnold Schwarzenegger at Milton Berle's 80th Birthday party which was held at the Friar's Club at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on November 18, 1988.

Paul Newman
Rolex Daytona @ The 64 Academy Awards

In the photo below we see Paul Newman with Elizabeth Taylor in 1992 attending the 64th Academy Awards and notice Paul Newman is wearing his stainless steel Rolex Daytona on a Jubilee Bracelet.

The photo below shows Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor 34 years earlier on the set of the 1958 movie, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. One of the most interesting things about this pairing was that they both had crazy blue eyes...

Burt Reynolds
Rolex Datejust On A Specila Bracelet.

In 1997 Burt Reynolds made a huge comeback with his role in Boogie Nights for which he won the 1998 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. Notice he is wearing his yellow gold Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee Bracelet.

James Cameron
Rolex Submariner @ The Academy Awards

In the photo below we see Director James Cameron at the 1998 Academy Awards where he won 3 Oscars, for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing.

Ted Koppel
Rolex Explorer II

Ted Koppel is best known for hosting ABC's Nightline, and in the photo below we see him wearing a black dialed Rolex Explorer II with his black tie.

James Bond
Stainless Steel Rolex Milgauss.

Next up we see James Bond actor, Daniel Craig wearing his stainless steel Rolex Milgauss.

Jeff Bridges
Yellow Gold Rolex Submariner

In 2010 Jeff Bridges won the Academy Award for Best Actor, and as we see in the image below, he is wearing his father's yellow gold Rolex Submariner.

King Harald of Norway
Pepsi GMT-Master

In the photo below, taken on April 28, 2011, King Harald of Norway is attending a pre-wedding ceremony dinner in London being held for Prince William and Princess Kate of Britain.

James Bond
Stainless Steel Rolex Daytona.

Next up we see James Bond actor, Daniel Craig wearing his stainless steel Rolex Daytona.

Roger Federer
Platinum Rolex Daytona

Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player in history and he is pictured below in 2013 rockin' the then all-new Platinum 50th Anniversary Rolex Daytona that Rolex launched at BaselWorld 2013 in Basel, Switzerland.

Michael Bublé
Stainless Steel Rolex Daytona

Odell Beckham
Yellow Gold Rolex Day-Date

Odel Beckham is an amazing NFL Football player, and he is pictured below is black tie, sporting his yellow gold Rolex Day-Date.

Ryan Gosling
Stainless Rolex Airking

Ryan Gosling is pictured below accepting the 2017 Golden Globes Win for Best Actor, and he is sporting his vintage stainless steel Rolex AirKing.

Jason Bateman
Stainless Rolex Daytona

Jason Bateman was a presenter at the 2017 Academy Awards, and he was wearing his vintage Rolex Daytona as seen below.

Ryan Seacrest
Stainless Rolex Daytona

Ryan Seacrest is pictured below attending the 2017 Academy Awards sporting his stainless steel Rolex Daytona.

Rex Tillerson
Stainless Rolex Daytona

Rex Tillerson is the United States Secretary of State, and he is pictured below wearing his stainless steel Rolex Datejust that has a white mother of pearl dial with diamond indexes.

Michael Stratham
Stainless Rolex Daytona

In the photo below we see Michael Strahan interviewing Lin Manuel Maranda on the red carpet at the 2018 Acadamy Awards. Notice Strahan is wearing a white dial Daytona with a black ceramic bezel.

Sam Rockwell
Stainless Rolex GMT-Master

Next, we see actor Sam Rockwell giving his acceptance speech for having won Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars for his Rolex in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri". Notice Sam Rockwell is wearing his vintage Rolex GMT-Master, Reference 16710, which features an all-black bezel.

Brian Cranston
Stainless Rolex Datejust

Earlier this year at the Academy Awards we Brian Cranston showed up rocking his stainless steel Rolex Datejust, which looks great with his tuxedo.

Cary Grant
The Real James Bond

Speaking of James Bond and Black Tie. No man ever has or ever will wear Black Tie like Cary Grant did... I have yet to find a photo of Cary Grant wearing a Rolex, but it is fascinating to note that the James Bond Character was based upon Cary Grant, and he was the first choice to play James Bond. Unfortunately, he passed on the opportunity because they wanted him to sing for three movies.