A Long History! Rolex & Motor Sports

A Long History! Rolex & Motor Sports
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A Long History! Rolex & Motor Sports

A Long History! Rolex & Motor Sports

Rolex is proud to be a major force at play behind the finest events in motor sports. Whether supporting the leading motor sports series, Formula 1®; iconic endurance races, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans; or maintaining tradition with the historic Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Rolex has cultivated a privileged relationship with this fast-paced world.


The roots of Rolex’s affinity for sports and human achievement can be traced back to the pioneering origins of the company. When founder Hans Wilsdorf set up his watchmaking firm, he was influenced by the swift changes sweeping through society at the beginning of the 20th century. In an era when wristwatches were still regarded as fragile items of apparel, he was determined to create a wristwatch that would be robust, precise and reliable, adapted to ever more active lifestyles.

In 1910, a Rolex wristwatch obtained the first certificate ever granted to such a watch by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne, Switzerland. In 1926, Rolex invented the Rolex Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch in the world, thanks to a case equipped with an ingenious patented system consisting of a screw-down bezel, case back and winding crown. To prove his invention, Hans Wilsdorf equipped Mercedes Gleitze with an Oyster when she swam the English Channel a year later. The Rolex watch emerged from more than 10 hours in the water in perfect working condition, and the young Englishwoman effectively became the brand’s first Testimonee – a witness to the watch’s uncompromised performance.

In 1931, Rolex invented the first wristwatch self-winding system with a free rotor, called the Perpetual rotor, the precursor of contemporary selfwinding systems.

With Hans Wilsdorf at the helm, Rolex continued to use the world as a real-life proving ground for the Oyster, demonstrating time and again its reliability in the most extreme conditions, on land, in the air, in the depths of the ocean or on the tallest peaks. By being associated with so many
achievements, Rolex became the trusted reference for chronometric precision, robustness and reliability around the world.

Meanwhile, Rolex evolved, as did its product, in a constant pursuit of perfection. As part of this evolution, Rolex watches – made from only the highest quality materials and designed by the industry’s best – became symbols of elegance and prestige.

Rolex sought to associate with activities that, like itself, were motivated by passion, excellence, precision and performance. Naturally, Rolex gravitated towards the world of motor sports, forming an alliance that dates back to the 1930s, when Sir Malcolm Campbell set a world land-speed record while wearing a Rolex Oyster.


In 1959, the brand partnered the Daytona International Speedway in the United States. A few years later, Rolex added the name “Daytona” to the dial of the iconic chronograph it created for racing drivers, the Cosmograph. Ever since then, the presence of the Rolex brand in automobile racing has grown steadily. Rolex has been the Title Sponsor of the Rolex 24 At Daytona in Florida since 1992 and Official Timepiece since 2001 for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest sports car endurance race.

From 2013, Rolex is Official Timepiece of Formula 1®, the pinnacle of motor sports. This long-term partnership is the culmination of the brand’s history of close ties with motor racing and speed. Since the late 1960s, Rolex has counted motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart, one of the most celebrated Formula 1® drivers of the last 40 years, among its family of Testimonees. Sir Jackie won three FIA Formula One ™ World Championships (1969, 1971 and 1973) and 27 Grand Prix races. He is also widely recognized for his commitment to F1 driving safety during
the 1970s.

Through its strong alliance with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex also proudly sponsors Danish driver Tom Kristensen, record nine-time winner of the annual endurance classic.

In keeping with its spirit of pushing the limits of performance, Rolex joined the Bloodhound SSC World Land Speed Record project in 2011 as the Official Timing Partner. The Bloodhound team is aiming to set a new record of 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 km/h) with a cutting-edge supersonic jet- and rocket-powered car. This maintains Rolex’s longstanding presence at the frontiers of speed, stretching back to 1935 when Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the 300 mile-per-hour (approximately 480 km/h) barrier at the wheel of Bluebird.

Rolex also sponsors events that celebrate the beauty of historic cars rather than their racing performance. Among them is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (US), launched in 1950 to showcase the most avant-garde models of the period. Today, this prestigious competition, held annually in Pebble Beach, California, features the most striking of vintage cars. Rolex has been the Official Timekeeper since 1997. Included in this event is the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex, created to demonstrate the elegance of automobiles in motion. Rolex became Presenting Sponsor of this event in 2007.

Furthermore, Rolex is the proud sponsor of the Goodwood Revival (UK), devoted to race cars built before 1966, as well as the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (US), which brings over 600 cars to California’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.

Driven by a passion for excellence and a great appreciation for motor sports, Rolex, the world’s leading Swiss watchmaker, is committed to cultivating the strong ties that bind these two prestigious worlds in their shared pursuit of perfection.

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