Most brands are built unconsciously. The author of a brand is generally too busy surviving and only thinking about building the perfect product. They are busy creating demand and fulfilling customer's needs. If the product is successful, managing growth and the fortunate head aches is the primary focus. To keep success as the ultimate goal is to satisfy demand and sustain quality.
How does a brand become bigger than life? A brand which touches few but attracts everyone. Many high-end products would fall into this category. Do they start with a brand vision or does it evolve? For luxury goods, scarcity in the marketplace can influence value, spur demand, and contribute to collectibility and long-term appreciation. Today, there is no person who has never heard about the Swiss brand Rolex. The words “prestige, luxury, precision and quality" are synonymous with the brand name Rolex.
Total sales of luxury watches comprised of about 25 different brands are around $9.5 billion, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Luxury watches account for only 3% of the watch market in volume but account for over 30% in sales. Rolex is the largest single luxury watch brand by far, producing about 2000 watches per day, with estimated revenues of around US$3 billion. In 2007, BusinessWeek magazine ranked Rolex #71 of the 100 most important global brands, top among all watchmakers. If these numbers are correct (acquired from various sources on the internet), this means Rolex has about 32% of the luxury market share!
Rolex was originally conceived as a partnership between Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred James Davis in 1905, in London's jewelry and watch district. In the absence of capital to start their own manufacturing concern, they decided to import movements, dials and cases from Europe, assemble them and sell them in London. In 1915, the company was renamed to the Rolex Watch Company Ltd. and later moved to Switzerland. While most of the industry was concentrating on building pocket watches, Rolex focused their energies and efforts towards building wrist watches. In 1926, Rolex developed and patented the first truly water-resistant watch, the Oyster. The watch was strapped to the wrist of Mercedes Gleitze, an eighteen year old that swam across the English Channel for a second time. Rolex capitalized on the event by using it in advertisements, and by building displays in jewelers’ windows that featured a watch submerged in a small tank of water.
Between World War I and II, Rolex began to build its reputation for performance. Hans Wilsdorf, was obsessed with creating the perfect timepiece and he spared no expense in researching for new ideas and innovations.
By World War II, the Rolex brand had gained such prestige that British Royal Air Force pilots bought them to replace the inferior watches that were issued to them. Pilots captured as prisoners of war frequently had their Rolexes confiscated, but when pilots wrote to the company about their ordeal, Rolex replaced the watches free of charge.
Over the years, Rolex has attached itself to countless newsworthy events in order to promote the performance of its watches. However, the Mercedes Gleitze swim may have been the most successful, and it certainly helped establish Rolex (and the Oyster watch) as a name widely recognized around the world.
If you visit the Rolex website today, or better yet purchase a Rolex watch, you will notice Hans Wildordf's passion of perfection still prevails 103 years later.
Derrick Rozdeba - I am a connoisseur of fine brands. Using my brand appreciation and insights, like a sommeliers, I will impart my knowledge and opinion in savoring the many brands that identify our lives. Visit my blog http://derrickrozdeba.blogspot.com/