Since its inception, Rolex's philosophy has been based on perpetual improvement and continuous evolution in the pursuit of excellence. These values have led Rolex to establish relationships with organizations and personalities who with their actions have dictated the highest standards in the world of art and sport.
The historical link between Rolex and motor racing is part of the brand's universe, of its very identity.
Rolex's support for speed dates back to the 30s. Since that period, in fact, Rolex has associated its brand with legendary personalities of motor sports: from Malcolm Campbell, one of the first Testimonials of the brand, to Sir. Jackie Stewart, one of the most successful Formula 1 drivers of the last forty years.
Between 1903 and 1935 the hard beach of Daytona, Florida became world famous as the perfect place to break speed records. One of the greatest drivers of that era was Ralph De Palma, who set the world record in 1919 at 149mph (240km / h), an unbeaten speed for 10 years. Until the arrival of two extraordinary British pilots: Malcolm Campbell e Henry Segrave. After competing in the 20s on the Brooklands circuit in England, the two battled it out at Daytona as their cars were able to challenge 200 miles per hour (321Km / h), a speed that could once only be achieved by planes. Their racing cars were in fact equipped with aircraft engines.
From 1926 to 1930 (the year of Segrave's death) the two faced each other with record blows. Is exactly Sir Malcolm Campbell that in 1935 during the nine speed tests, many of which took place in Daytona Beach known as the "homeland of speed", broke all records and broke the 300 miles per hour (483 km / h) wall with his Bluebird.
From 1930 until the test that saw him set his last official record with 301 miles per hour (485 km / h), Campbell wore a Rolex. Sir Malcolm Campbell was the first Rolex Testimonial in motor sports, deeply attached to Daytona
Starting in the late 50s, the crowned company also became a partner of the American Daytona International Speedway circuit in Florida, the same that in 1963 gave its name to the legendary chronograph that Rolex created for racing drivers, the Rolex Daytona.
In fact, it seems that Rolex initially thought of the name “Le Mans” for its sports chronograph, as it appeared in one of the recently discovered advertisements of the time. From this little anecdote we can however guess that the link with car racing was already strong since then but, presumably for reasons of universality of the name Daytona or perhaps of the ease in pronouncing it (did you think that the name ROLEX can be pronounced the same way in all languages, without great difficulty?) the name Le Mans has never been stamped on a ROLEX dial.
The bond with Paul Newman
Over the years, the Cosmograph Daytona has also become popular outside the racetrack, thanks to the Hollywood icon and great car racing enthusiast: Paul Newman. The American actor who wore his Cosmograph Daytona in everyday life and on the circuits, wore a particular type of dial defined as 'exotic' that collectors then associated with his surname. It was a Cosmograph Daytona 6239 bought for him by his wife, Joanne woodward as a gift for his passion for motorsport.
Throughout his life, Paul Newman has been seen wearing at least five generations of Cosmograph Daytona models. This specimen was the first and only “exotic” Cosmograph Daytona dial that the actor wore (beaten by Phillips Bacs & Russo for over USD 17 million).
Another example is the 6263 'Big Red' with waist chronograph pushers, black dial and black bezel (this was also auctioned by Phillips Bacs & Russo for over $ 5 million USD). Two Rolex Cosmograph Daytona with automatic movement ref. 16520 with both white and black dials, plus a white gold 116509 with black dial and leather strap.
However, his connection with Rolex was never official. The only 'contact' between the actor-driver and ROLEX took place in 1995, on the occasion of his victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, receiving, as usual, a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona that the actor gave to a charity.
The Daytona is a model that will forever be associated with Paul Newman, prized by watch collectors simply because Newman embodied that kind of unplanned, unassuming coolness while wearing his Daytona. We Italians would call it 'contempt'.
Over the following decades, Rolex has preserved the tradition in motor racing, while also promoting excellence and innovation.
Rolex is a partner of events that celebrate the elegance of vintage cars and their influence on modern technologies. Among these, the Pebble Beach Concourse d'Elegance stands out. Born in 1950, today this prestigious competition celebrates the most beautiful classic cars by giving them the chance to see them in motion. ROLEX has been the Official Watch of the event since 1997 and has been Presenting Sponsor of the event since 2007.
Another important event to which ROLEX is linked is the Goodwood Revival, the most famous classic car competitive event in the world that brings together cars produced before 1966. Cars from the 40s, 50s and 60s chase each other on the original Goodwood circuit, re-proposing the clothing and atmosphere of those times.
The brand is also a sponsor of Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (United States), which attracts over five hundred thousand cars to the California WatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca circuit.
When we think of a watch as coveted as a victory, we think of the DAYTONA. We have seen that its presence in Daytona Beach and at the more sophisticated is part of the Rolex tradition Daytona International Speedway of which Rolex has been an Official Watch since 1959, the year in which it was inaugurated. From the very first editions, a ROLEX watch has been the coveted trophy that is offered to the winners of the most mythical and longest race in the United States.
After more than 60 years, for the best drivers in the whole world who participate in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and who come from F1 or NASCAR or IndyCar or Endurance, win a Cosmograph Daytona represents the trophy that everyone would like to obtain. Since 1992 ROLEX has been Title Sponsor of ROLEX 24 at DAYTONA.
Rolex was also a supporter and sponsor of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and became its official timekeeper in 2001. Also, as with the winners of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans are also awarded with a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona specially engraved.
Rolex is also a partner of 12 Hours of Sebring held annually in Florida. The trio composed of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, From Rolex 24 At Daytona and from 12 Hours of Sebring is currently called the "Triple Crown"Of endurance races. Since 2016 Rolex is also Timepiece's official partner for the FIA World Endurance Championship, recently formed.
Since the beginning of 2013, Rolex has become a Global Partner and Official Watch of the formula 1, the highest expression of motor sports. Both universes are united by the highest human skill to achieve excellence and push ever higher in overcoming limits.
The presence in Formula 1 has also been consolidated thanks to the close relationship that ROLEX has established with legendary drivers, such as the Scottish Sir Jackie stewart, Rolex testimonial since 1968 and three-time FIA Formula 1 drivers world champion. His success has allowed him to become an emblematic figure in motorsport.
During his winning streak in the late 60s, Rolex forged an esteemed relationship with Sir Jackie Stewart due to his true passion and racing experience making him a true and credible brand ambassador.
Other former Formula 1 drivers have also recently become Testimonials of the Brand, such as the Australian Mark Webber and the English Jenson Button, who was Formula 1 World Champion in 2009.
It is incredible how ROLEX has managed to represent excellence over time even outside of its product. The brand was a pioneer not only for the innovations contained within its watches, but also for the ability to embrace different areas in its world, but always a symbol of excellence and innovation.
With her sports timepieces, such as the DAYTONA, she has managed to evoke adrenaline, adventure, the possibility of embodying oneself in epic situations or characters in the imagination of millions of people. These are Emotions. Emotions that, combined with a timeless design, the perfection of the lines and the precision and robustness of the movements have made ROLEX what it is today. A Legend, on the wrist.