Getting started in the working world I would often hear mentors and business gurus say “to value your time because time is money”.

And I always thought that was a great quote. And then as I became enveloped in this world of Marketing I realized how true that statement was, especially if you were wearing a Rolex. In that case time is literally money. 

High-priced and elegant, Rolex is a symbol for status, but that didn’t happen overnight.  A long running Marketing masterclass is what has led us to the year 2023, where Rolex is the standard for elite performers in all walks of life. 

So how did we get here?
Founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis, Rolex initially took on the name Wilsdorf and Davis.  Three years later, Wilsdorf and Davis pivoted their brand to Rolex. The name was easier to remember and rolled right off the tongue.  

The pair had a passion for precision timekeeping and in 1910 became the first wristwatch to hold the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision. This was huge. From the jump Rolex was the standard in timekeeping.
This high standard flowed into other aspects of the business with their invention of a waterproof case, the Rolex Oyster case, the first waterproof case ever. And then came Rolex’s first ever partnership…
British professional swimmer, Mercedes Gleitze, was attempting to swim across the English channel. A tall task.  

Rolex convinced Mercedes to wear the Rolex Oyster around her neck in her valiant attempt, this would put the watch to the ultimate test. 

After spending 10 hours swimming, not a drop of water was in the casing and the Rolex kept accurate time in the brisk water.  An elite watch, for an elite athlete. This was just the beginning.
Golf, Tennis, Equestrian, and Racing all have two things in common: they’re a high budget affair and Rolex is a prominent sponsor. Starting 1967 Rolex began a partnership with Arnold Palmer, Golf legend who was in the midst of his prime. And quickly thereafter, Rolex inked a deal with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.  

Golf’s “big three” were donning Rolexes on and off the course, beginning Rolex’s synonymy with Golf. The exceptional watchmaker made sure that only exceptional people were seen wearing a Rolex.
Rolex may be a buttoned-up prestigious brand, but there is no shortage of creativity in their Marketing. Does Rolex simply slap their logo on the walls at these sporting events?

No, that would ruin the natural beauty of the venues. Rolex enhances the customer experience and morphs their brand into the surrounding environment with their Rolex clocks (as seen below).
These placements just make sense. Showcasing the elegance and impeccable performance of the watchmaker, Rolex leverages the aura of the event to enhance the perception of their brand. 

This strategy has carried over into other elite sports, namely Tennis and Racing.
There’s a distinct reason Rolex doesn’t sponsor soccer, football, or basketball, those sports are attainable for the average person. Rolex watches are not an attainable watch for the average person. 

They’re not the average watch. 

Rolex watches require prestige, respect, and money – a microcosm of the events they sponsor. The swiss-made watch established legitimacy within the world of Tennis with their partnership with swiss-made legend, Roger Federer.
Winner of 20 Grand Slam Titles, Federer was always seen rocking a Rolex after winning a tournament. When you see Roger, you see a winner. When you think of a winner, you think of Rolex.  Rolex resembles championship caliber, they aren’t selling a product, they’re selling a feeling.  

This product placement by Rolex is unrivaled and is used to this day (see Alcaraz wearing a Rolex after winning Wimbledon two weeks ago).
Since 2016 Rolex has transcended elite performers in sports and become a representation of elite performers in all specialties. Rolex is now the sponsor of the Oscars Greenroom. 

An event held once a year for the recognition of high achievement in cinema and a get together for A-list celebrities from all across the globe, Rolex continues to cement their brand as synonymous with excellence.
We all can take notes from Rolex. If your brand isn’t where you want it to be, associate your brand with someone or something that resembles where you want to be as a brand.

That is the dream partnership.
Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
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