Friday, September 19, 2014

Yellow Gold Rolex Day-Date with Raised Yellow Gold Roman Numerals


...Rolex Studio Shot Of The Day...

Yellow Gold Rolex Day-Date 
with Raised Yellow Gold Roman Numerals

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Philippe Cousteau's Double Red SEA-DWELLER Coming To Auction


Philippe Cousteau's
Double Red SEA-DWELLER
Patent Pending Reference 1665 with Mark I Dial

Coming To Auction

Legendary underwater oceanographer and explorer, Philippe Cousteau's Patent Pending Rolex Double Red SEA-DWELLER is coming to auction at the end of the month at Antiquorum. Philippe Cousteau was the son of the greatest explorer that ever lived, Jacques-Yves Cousteau.


Philippe Cousteau's Double Red Rolex SEA-DWELLER. which is about to be auctioned is pictured below.




Philippe Cousteau's father, Jacques Cousteau conducted DEEP-SEA testing on prototype Rolex Submariner watches back in 1953, as seen in the photo below.



Jacques Cousteau not only invented SCUBA diving but taught his wife and two sons how to dive which you see in the photo below. Jacques Cousteau's oldest son, Jean-Michel is pictured on the far left; Jacques wife, Simone is pictured in the center; then Jacques Cousteau with his younger son Philippe pictured on the far right exploring in the Mediterranean Sea.

In this next family portrait we see Jacques next to his son Philippe who is next to his brother Jean-Michel. You can learn much more about Jacques-Yves Cousteau, an his sons in an article I wrote named "The Complete History Of The Rolex Submariner & SEA-DWELLER, Rolex's Conquest Of The Ocean: Part 5: Jacques Cousteau, Emile Gagan & The Aqua Lung."


I have written extensively about Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and his children, and grandchildren's achievements as stewards of the ocean.

The photo below is from a Rolex SEA-DWELLER story I am still working on, and have not published yet, about Philippe Cousteau's involvement as a diver on the U.S. Navy SEA-LAB III expedition. Suffice it to say that the Rolex SEA-DWELLER was developed as part of that program as a venture between the U.S. Navy SEA-LAB and Rolex. The photo below of Philippe Cousteau preparing to dive as part of SEA-LAB III would have been taken just around the time he obtained his Double Red SEA-DWELLER which will soon be auctioned.






Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rolex Macro Shot Of The Week: Daytona Designation...


Daytona Designation

ChampTheKid took this stunning macro shot of his Rolex Daytona up-close. You have to love the red, white and black color combination!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The First Rolex "Presidential" Watch Coming To Auction Next Week!

Update on September 17, 2014 @ 12:20PM: The auction for President Eisenhower's Rolex just concluded. The highest offer was $475,000 which did not meet the reserve of $1 Million. They say that you never really know the value of something until you try to sell it, so I imagine this auction came pretty close to determining the fair-market value of the watch. Close to a half-million dollars is still an impressive number for one of the most historically significant Rolex watches!





"The" First Rolex President Coming To Auction!!!
The International Mark Of Success & Achievement





The First Rolex President
President Dwight Eisenhower's Rolex
[1951 Yellow Gold Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee Bracelet]
The 150,000th Officially Certified Rolex Swiss Chronometer

It is hard to believe, but true, the first Rolex watch worn by a U.S. President is coming to auction, which is unprecedented! Just to be clear, Rolex watches worn by U.S. Presidents are not only very rare, but to date, one has never been offered at auction! President Eisenhower's Rolex is up for auction now, and scheduled to go to the hammer this coming Tuesday, September 17, 2014 at RRAuction.com. Early bidding is already underway and the watch is already up to $110,000.

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower pictured above wearing his yellow gold Rolex Datejust in the 1950s


This is no ordinary Rolex Presidential watch, but the one that Rolex gave to then Supreme NATO Commander of Europe, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, after he successfully freed Europe from the shackles of Nazi tyranny. Essentially, General Eisenhower was the architect of D-Day, under which he assembled the largest armada in history and sailed across the Atlantic, and stormed the beaches of Normandy to defeat the Nazi's. 

After winning World War II in Europe, General Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Commander of NATO, under which command, he got everything straightened out and oversaw the rebuilding of Europe.



It Doesn't Just Tell Time. It Tells History.


"Why this watch? This watch is witness. To words that moved nations. It's dared men faster. further. Worn by luminaries. Visionaries. Champions. It doesn't Just tell time. It tells History.

A recent Rolex ad campaign slogan says "It doesn't just tell time. It tells history." I can think of no other Rolex where this statement would be more true with, than with President Eisenhower's Rolex Datejust.

In the photo below taken on January 20, 1953 we see outgoing U.S. President, Harry Truman in the back of the Presidential Limousine with President Elect, Dwight Eisenhower as they leave for Eisenhower's inauguration. In this photo we get a clear shot of President Eisenhower's Rolex Datejust jubilee bracelet.



In the photo below taken under the White House portico, we see then Senator Hubert Humphrey in the presidential limousine turned around looking at outgoing U.S. President Truman.




An Unprecedented Rolex President

It is obvious President Eisenhower's Rolex is arguably the most historically significant Rolex watch. It has seen and witnessed a tremendous amount of history!






Below is a specially prepared video interview of Raleigh DeGeer Amyx, noted U.S. Presidential Historian and collector who currently owns President Eisenhower's Rolex. I first interviewed Raleigh on July 11, 2008, and we had a great conversation about his rare and historic Rolex that President Eisenhower wore. I highly recommend you check out the podcast interview which was absolutely fascinating.





Every Rolex Tells A Story

It has been said, that every Rolex tells a story, and when a Rolex is engraved on its case back, also know as a "verso" it adds a unique characteristic, that tells a story. 



The back of President Eisenhower's Rolex is engraved with Eisenhower's 5 Stars, which form a pentagon–in the middle of the stars. The engraving also has his initials DDE, as well as the date he was appointed Supreme Commander Of NATO. I would argue that if every Rolex tells a story, that President Eisenhower's yellow gold Rolex Datejust offers the most dynamic, and wonderful, ultra-succesful story. After all, it really was President Eisenower's Rolex that made Rolex The International Mark Of Success and Achievement. What is your Rolex story?








The Complete History Of The Rolex President

In 2008, I wrote a super detailed 11 Part story named The Complete History Of The Rolex President, which covers President Eisenhower's Rolex, and exactly how he obtained it from Rolex. The story is absolutely fascinating, and I would have never been able to write nearly such a detailed story had it not been for the kind assistance I received from the Eisenhower Presidential Library staff members and archivists who help me discover the entire paper-trail of correspondence that offers a flawless history of every step of the process. Some of these historical documents I originally published are seen below, and to read the entire story, click on the green link above in this paragraph.





The next two documents also came from the Eisenhower Presidential Library archives, and feature a Rolex Datejust booklet with care instructions.





A Crowning Achievement for Rolex

On July 21, 1952, Dwight Eisenhower appeared on the cover of LIFE Magazine, wearing his yellow gold Rolex Datejust, which must have blown the mind of all Rolex executives, including Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf. Rolex had officially arrived as the world-wide horological leader...



Rolex promised never to commercialize the fact that President Eisenhower wore a Rolex, which is a promise they kept. However, this did not keep them from being extremely proud of this achievement, which resulted in the following ad campaign that began in 1956 titled, "Men who guide the destinies of the world wear Rolex watches."


1956 Rolex President's Watch Ad
Men Who Guide The Destinies Of The World Wear Rolex Watches





1957 Rolex President's Watch Ad
Men Who Guide The Destinies Of The World Wear Rolex Watches




In 1964, U.S. President Johnson began wearing a Rolex Day-Date model, which became known as The President's Rolex. Rolex was so impressed with this fact, they renamed the Day-Date bracelet, "The President Bracelet." In the photo below we see President Johnson conferring with Dwight Eisenhower–Both Rolex wearers.








1966 Rolex President's Watch Ad
The Presidents' Watch





1967 Rolex President's Watch Ad
If You Were Speaking Here Tomorrow





Thursday, September 11, 2014

Apple Launches Apple Watch Is This The Rolex Killer?


4th Update Note: I will be working on updating this article until it is complete. There is obviously a lot to cover, so as I continue to update the story, I will update this header.



Apple Watch Launches!

Is This The Rolex Killer?
What An Apple Watch Could Mean For Rolex

"We have one more thing! We love to make great products that really enrich people lives.  We love to integrate hardware, software and services seamlessly. We love to make technology more personal, and allow our users to do things they never imagined. We have been working extremely hard, for a long time, on an entirely new product. We believe this product will redefine what people expect from its category. I am so excited and I am so proud to share it with you this morning! The Apple Watch is the next chapter in Apple's story." –Tim Cook [Apple CEO]

So it finally happened, after so much ado, Apple finally launched the Apple Watch, and now the game has completely changed. What does this mean for Rolex? Is it a real threat to Rolex's dominance of mindshare and fascination? Ironically, you will be able to purchase your next Rolex with an Apple Watch using its NFC Sensor!?! Pretty Crazy!!!



Below is the official Apple Watch Video introduction by Sir Jonathan Ive, who is Apple's lead designer. The New York Times recently cited Jony Ive as saying that with the introduction of the Apple watch that "Swiss Watchmakers are f**ked."



Below is the official Apple Watch Video for heath and fitness:



Over the course of the next couple of days, I will be covering all the details of Apple's launch of their Apple Watch, and I will continually update this story as news comes in. To best understand the significance of this story, I recommend reading my story which is titled "Apple v. Rolex", which you can find below this story.  


Today may very well be the most important day in Rolex history, as it is the day that the first serious shot got fired across Rolex's bow, in what is likely an opening salvo for dominance of wrist-time coolness mindshare. 

Let me be specific. For more than 50 years Rolex has been THE watch brand of brands. No other brand has anywhere close to the history of innovation and esteem with customers and within the horological industry. Rolex is and has always been the first name in watches. Many other companies have tried with little success to dethrone the undisputed King of watches (Rolex), and remove his crown. 

With the advent of the iWatch, the game just complete changed, and it is crystal-clear that Apple is gunning for the top position in the world, and the only entity in their way is Rolex. Sure, Rolex and Apple can coexist with Rolex being the King Of Analog mechanical watches, and with Apple being King of Digital watches, but I believe there is even more at stake than meets the eye. Apple even referred to their navigational crown on the side of their watch which serves as a home button (when depressed) as well as a zoom/selection/scroll wheel slider as "The Digital Crown."

The Apple Watch is extremely accurate. How accurate you ask? It keeps "Incredibly accurate" time within +/- 50 Milliseconds...Methinks COSC just got completely obscoleted...
Before I go on any further, I will answer the question as to wether or not I think the Apple Watch is a Rolex Killer. Yes. I do. Not in the short-term, but potentially in the long-term. I believe the introduction of the Apple Watch will force Rolex to revaluate everything, as they should. 

I believe Apple just lit a serious fire under the ass of not just the entire Swiss Watch industry, but the entire watch industry, including the Japanese horological establishment. I further believe such action will ultimately serve to be a blessing in disguise. In other words, Apple's actions with the introduction of the highly disruptive all-new Apple Watch have created a new paradigm that deeply conflicts with the traditional watchmaking paradigm. Apple wants to force users to rethink what a watch ultimately can and should be. They are seeking to obsolete old-fashioned mechanical watches, and replace them with powerful wrist-worn computers, much in the way the automobile overcame and replaced the horse and buggy in the 20th Century.

This is just my opinion, but I believe it is time for Rolex to reinvent itself, and rethink and recalibrate their approach to innovation. Let's face reality for a moment. Does anybody really need, or even know how to time a sailing regatta with a Yacht-Master II? No!!! That is not a real tool watch. A watch than can track wether you are getting enough daily exercise, or one that can remember where you parked your car and safely guide you back to it with turn-by-turn directions is a real 21st Century tool watch!!!

Does this mean I think Rolex should discontinue the classic Rolex Submariner, and make a digital version with a color screen? Absolutely not! But, I do think it is long overdue for Rolex to offer a 44mm Submariner, GMT-Master, and Daytona. 

I also think Rolex should test the water with making Rolex SmartWatches, and should stop resting on their laurels, and take the car off cruise-control. The time has come for Rolex to once again pick-up where they left off when Hans Wilsdorf passed away in 1960! Instead of worrying about preserving continuity, they should solely focus on real and meaningful innovation, coupled with incorporating historical elements from there amazing DNA into their watches. 

Rolex needs to stop playing it so safe, and take more meaningful risks! When Hans Wildorf was alive Tudor was never cooler than Rolex. Today, Tudor should not be serving as the Rolex Skunk Works. Rolex should be driving all innovation. Rolex should be taking a pedal-to-the-metal approach–not safely riding the brakes.

In the days to come, I will continue expanding and updating this article as new information comes in, and once Apple makes their new watch available in 2015, we will be doing an in-depth design analysis.

I also want to make it clear I understand my tone with these Apple Watch articles may seem unusual, and I don't want readers to think I am dissing Rolex in any way. The truth is, I have always loved and respected Rolex and been deeply inspired by their DNA and timeless design language, and I think it is time for Rolex to once again metamorphosize and reinvent itself–the way it alway has many times throughout its 110 year history. Today Rolex is the absolute leader in Swiss Horology, and I think they should do everything they can to maintain their leadership position. If it was not crystal-clear to you a week ago that Apple is dead serious about stealing the mantle from Rolex, it should be now...Time is no longer on Rolex's side...

Rolex today is stronger than ever, and from every indicator, it appears they are continuing to expand, thus the threat from Apple is more of a long-term threat, but very real nonetheless. Many people have and will dismiss my perspective as being paranoid, but I genuinely believe if anybody can successfully disrupt the traditional watchmaking community and displace Rolex–in the long-term–it would be Apple. Ironically I am also a huge Apple fan, which makes things even more interesting and peculiar at the same time.



Think Really Different

Below is the entire video of the Apple of Apple Special event. I included the entire keynote video since the iPhone 6 announcement, as well as the introduction of the revolutionary all-new Apple Pay system is also amazingly fascinating, and I highly recommend you sit down with a cup of coffee and watch this Apple Keynote presentation to not only witness the unveiling of the Apple Watch but also to understand how very serious Apple is about building out this new wrist watch platform. 

Also, when you watch this Apple Keynote presentation, pay close attention to the all-new Apple Pay System. If you think about it, Apple in one fail swoop, single-handedly, and in one fail swoop just achieved what nobody has ever been able to achieve, and in doing so, with their highly disruptive technological prowess, just completely reinvented capitalism. If Apple can take such quick steps toward digitizing money, and doing is in such a united way, think about what they can do with watches.



Apple clearly intends to take advantage of their superior and dominant market position with the iPhone to leverage consumers into adopting Apple Watches. Some people may say this does not make sense, but the question I ask, is what percentage of people who wear Rolex have an affinity for Apple products and use and depend on iPhones daily? I would even go so far to ask the question of how many Rolex employees in Switzerland use and depend on iPhones? If Rolex is like any other world-class company, the answer would be more than 50%. This omnipresence Apple enjoys give them a unique value proposition opportunity to convert Rolex people in mass. 

Also, the Apple Watch is completely antithetical to Rolex in the sense that with Rolex, you can't customize or personalize models in any way. In other words, if you but a Submariner, that is all it will ever be. With the Apple Watch they emphasize how it is designed to suit your mood, with easily changeable modular straps and bracelets, as well as having a completely customizable User Interface. I believe as we head further into the 21st century customizability and individual expression will become even more important and appealing to customers. In many ways, the Apple Watch is the exact opposite of Rolex.




Dream Of The Ages

The world began dreaming about a wrist-watch multi-tasking as a communication device with the advent of the Dick Tracy Character, who on January 13, 1946, just after the end of World War II, showed up wearing a wrist-watch that featured a 2-way police radio that allowed him to communicate with Police headquarters. 



This simple Dick Tracy comic strip, largely awakened the public imagination as to what a wrist watch might be able to do beside tell the time. In other words, humans naturally and organically imagined that one day, watches could do much more than tell time. They would allow us to communicate over far distances with one another. Dick Tracy's radio watch was so compelling, it caused future generations to assume this science fiction would one day be inevitable and that day is now upon us. 

The world continued imagining a watch that could be used as a communicator, and one great example is from the 1967 James Bond spoof movie named Casino Royal, which stared Peter Sellers and Swiss Beauty, Ursula Andress. 


There is a scene in Casino Royal, that shows James Bond Character, played by Peter Sellers, wearing Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master, which had a built-in 2 way video communicator, as see below.


The photo below shows a Rolex wrist shot of a Pepsi GMT-Master with a video Screen on it, which shows Ursula Andress on its screen.


It's kind of ironic when you think about it that a 1967 spoof movie featured a Rolex with a feature that is light-years beyond anything that exists today. Yet if you think about the communicators that were featured on the original Star Trek, look like child's play compared to an iPhone 6.






It's About Time


Below is the official Apple Watch Video by head Apple Designer, Sir Jonathan Ive introducing the all-new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus...




Counterpoint

I am not done with writing this article, but I want to offer a counterpoint section, which is as follows.

I realize people have differing opinions than mine, which I am always open to. I think it is important to have healthy discussions on these topics. To gain a different perspective, I recommend checking out my pal, Benjamin Clymer's perspective from Hodinkee.com. Benjamin attended the Apple event and wrote a superb article, which I highly recommend reading.

A reader of Jake's Rolex World emailed me on September 10th, 2014 with the following message, which provides a fascinating counterpoint argument:

The Subject of Bill's email was "Very Funny." He wrote:

Jake. You wrote: "Today may very well be the most important day in Rolex history, as it is the day that the first serious shot got fired across Rolex's bow, in what is likely an opening salvo for dominance of wrist-time mindshare.”

You don’t really believe this, do you? The Apple Watch is basically useless unless paired to an iPhone, and that tiny screen is a joke compared to the iPhone in your pocket which also has a far more useful interface. Why do you think they just introduced two new iPhones w/ larger screens? Because so many claimed the iPhone screen was too small! If you travel you’ll have to carry yet another proprietary charger, and they won’t even talk about battery life to begin with. 

It can’t be too waterproof, because the touch screen would go nuts with the pressure at anything over about 5 feet deep. It is the most useless gadget Apple has ever made, which is really sad because until now Apple hasn’t made useless gadgets. And this is coming from a happy Apple user since the 80s. Geeks will buy anything that has a screen, but the general public will catch on quite quickly that this new device is a pain, not a blessing.  

I hope dearly Rolex ignores all this empty rhetoric and continues to, as the ad says, stay the course: "this is what we do, it’s all we do, and all we’ll ever do." They make fine, incredibly durable timepieces that you wear and never have to wind, charge or sit in the sun. The Apple watch will be a disposable piece of digital jetsam that people will have to bend over backwards to make “useful.” It’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, like so much of the electronic interface crap that festoons the modern automobile (which I test for a living). You are one of the rare individuals that has seen the Rolex production facilities. Apparently, you didn’t learn much about the company or their products at all. A shot across their bow? Really? I think Apple shot themselves in the foot, amigo. 

Best,

Bill

Instead of responding to Bill's email directly, I will do it here. 

Bill, I understand and respect your constructively critical perspective, and recognize there is zero destructive criticism in your analysis. If I am not Rolex's biggest fan on planet earth, I don't know who is!?!? Don't forget I have written over 3000 posts on Jake's Rolex World, many of which are super-detailed like this one.

My point is that for a 1.0 version the Apple Watch deserves an absolute "A" for effort. I agree with you and am certain as a 1.0 version, it will have limitations, but you must give credit where credit is due. Apple is trying valiantly to push the innovation envelope is a way that reminds me of the way Hans Wilsdorf and Rolex did in the 1920s through the end of the 1950s.

As much as I love and adore Rolex, I genuinely believe there is still tremendous room for significant improvement and innovation. I would really like to see smart Rolex watches, even if they have a mechanical movement. Wouldn't it be cool if Rolex watches not only kept perfect time, all the time, but could also automatically update to local time as you flew through different time zones and dates? In the final analysis, Hans Wilsdof's goal was to create the most accurate and dependable, sturdy wristwatches, that offered genuinely useful features at reasonable prices for high quality watches.

Also, 20 years from now Rolex will exist, but the question is: will Rolex be a youthful brand by appealing to future generations that grow-up with iPhones and iPads? 20 years from now, will Rolex watches basically be the same as they are today, or will they evolve? You are correct that I was extremely fortunate to be one of the few horological journalists to have the opportunity to see the inside of Rolex, and to this day I am still stunned with what I witnessed

It is due to the fact I better understand Rolex's industrial capacity and technological prowess that I expect so much more from them. I sincerely hope Rolex's best days are ahead of them. That being said, I think that if Apple could wipe-out the entire cell-phone industry and smart-phone manufacturers in seven short years, with the exception of Samsung, they could wreak serious havoc on the Swiss Watch Industry, and in the long-term, they could do much damage to Rolex, if they can successfully reposition Rolex as being anachronistic. I think Apple's Watch strategy has Trojan Horse tactic written all over it.

It's easy for Apple to wipe-out many inexpensive watch brands, since the Apple Watch pricing begins at only $350. Notice Apple is also offering solid yellow and rose gold versions of their watches. Their modular straps appear to be extremely innovative and well built, particularly for such a low price point. For the past half-century Rolex has enjoyed its status as the International Mark Of Success. The challenge is that moving full speed ahead into the digital  information age, status is quickly turning from material wealth to intellectual wealth. 

This is likely witnessed by the fact that probably more than 50% of Rolex employees depend on iPhones everyday in Switzerland, but do you think 50% of Apple Employees wear Rolex watches? iPhones are the new cool, since they are such powerful tools. Especially with the advent of the iPhone 6 Plus model. The first generation Apple Watch might be beautifully half-baked, but give them a decade to iterate and figure out how to get to the higher hanging fruit, and I would say that is where the danger is. Also, you probably realize better than anybody else Bill, that apple is genuinely innovating at such a breakneck speed, that they have people going crazy waiting in lines for weeks to be one of the first to get the new generation iPhone or iPad. In other words, Apple is successfully training consumer to expect and want more in much shorter periods of time, and the payoff is real. If they can get customers used to these super exciting growth cycles, by constantly delivering innovation, it could really change the watch game.

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more!?



Another Perspective

Dylan wrote in from the UK, on September 11, 2014 and said:


Jake,

I admire your website immensely.

I do however disagree with your slightly pessimistic view of the above in relation to the long term future of Rolex.
History has taught us that two things NEVER go out of fashion.

They are :

1.       Style.
2.       Romance.


Namely everything that true Rolex fans value so dearly and what a fancy gadgety i watch could never achieve.

The geeks are welcome to them.

I’ll stick to my English gentleman’s brogues (which go with anything ) and my beloved collection of Rolex watches (which also go with anything).

Keep up the good work.


Regards,

Dylan B.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Will Smartphones Displace The Swiss Watch Industry?



...The Moment Of Truth Is Upon Us...

Apple v. Rolex
Designed in California v. Made In Switzerland


Preface

Rolex is by far and away the best-known, most prestigious watch brand in the history of the world, and they should be. After all, Rolex achieved this position in the marketplace the old-fashioned way–they earned it.

The only other old-school brands I am aware of that match Rolex's popularity, status, instant brand recognizability, and enduring zeitgeist are Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and perhaps Louis Vuitton. So notice, I am not referring to other watch brands, I am saying Rolex is one of the best known and most respected brands on earth!

Rolex is also revered within the watch industry. Every watch brand on earth studies–often times in awe–all of Rolex's strategic moves, and tries to emulate or get around them. Rolex is the unequivocal horological industry leader and standard by which all other watch brands are measured.

In other words, Rolex has not only become synonymous with being The International Mark Of Success, but Rolex has been the belle of the ball for at least a half-century. Rolex is the timeless and elegant brand that is the Cary Grant of Sophia Loren of watches.

How did Rolex earn this highly enviable position? In one word? INNOVATION!!!

We live in a world where innovation is the name of the game, and companies that fail to innovate fall by the wayside, or become also-rans. Ironically, there was a time where Microsoft was the King of the computer world, and Apple almost went out of business. How did Apple under Steve Jobs' tutelage make such a strong comeback to now be the King? INNOVATION coupled with the ability to mass produce high-quality machined computer products, with excellent software. Microsoft today continues to implode upon itself, and not only has rested on its laurels, but has failed terribly to innovate.

This story is fascinating on so many different levels. Most particularly since it involves the most successful company today in the world, which is Apple, and Apple in my opinion is gunning for Rolex in the sense they desire to steal the mindshare mantle that Rolex possesses.  In other words, Apple wants and is seeking what Rolex owns today. Apple wants to occupy that coveted position of prestige that Rolex has owned for at least the past 5 decades, and that is what is at stake today.

An obvious question is 'can Rolex and Apple coexist, side by side, with Rolex being the old-school innovator and Apple being the new-school innovator?' Sure. Why not!? The only challenge is that Rolex is not used to playing second fiddle to anybody, and Rolex, as you will learn later in this story basically pioneered and created the old-school smart watch. Thus is stands to reason that Rolex should not rest on its laurels like Microsoft, and Rolex should once again push-the-envolpe of innovation!!!


Will SmartWatches Displace The Swiss Watch Industry?

Let's face reality for a moment. We are living in the digital age, and many, many technologies are quickly converging and evolving. No matter where you live in the world, you see people walking down the street staring at iPhones and Android smartphones which appear to be glued to their hands–even at Rolex's International Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland!

This is the world we live in...The world of the smartphone...The world of today and tomorrow...and things are evolving very quickly in this world, and the new focus is on wrist time and wearable technology, which Rolex basically invented and began pioneering more than 100 years ago...But, there is a new world order today, which has been driven primarily by Apple in California...



The Intersection of Technology & Humanites

Are Rolex and Apple on an inevitable collision course for wristwatch innovation, status and mindshare? It is widely rumored that Apple with be launching their iWatch platform on September 9, 2014. Apple rarely introduces new products, and they only do so when they believe they can leapfrog all the competition and dominate the new market they create. In order for Apple to successfully reinvent the smartwatch for the 21st century in 2015, they must displace the company that invented the smart watch in the 20th century, in 1915, and arguably this puts Rolex and Apple on an inevitable collision course.

"It's in Apples DNA, that technology alone is not enough. It is technology, married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sink. Nowhere is that more true than in these post PC devices." –Steve Jobs 


Can you hear the battle drums beginning to beat loudly in the distance? I certainly can, and the stakes are higher than ever. I wrote a short article on this subject earlier this year which I highly recommend reading before you continue reading this article.


SmartWatch v. StupidWatch

A Clash of titans is beginning for the battle of the wrist...Are digital and analog worlds about to collide again? Will it be a zero-sum game? Will one disruptive technology overcome and displace another? It happened with TV sets...Flat screen TVs and computer monitors obsoleted tube technology screens...Cell phones replaced land lines, and smartphones with large flat screens have arrived everywhere. As the world moves quickly into the digital information age, we are constantly surrounded with large, colorful flat screens wether it is an iPhone, iPad, MacBook laptop, TV and even in cars like the Tesla–large, bright colorful screens abound and are quickly becoming omnipresent...

So what exactly is convergence and what does it mean? It means everything that can be digital will be digital, and it is happening at a breakneck pace. The following animated graphic from the Harvard Innovation Lab, illustrates how our desktops have evolved since the 1980s. The obvious question the graphic below poses, is what comes next in the evolution? Could the wrist be the place that consolidates the laptop and phone, or at least highly supplement it?


So the obvious question is, are we at a strategic inflection point? Is the watch world at a tipping point? Is it time for out with the old and in with the new? Is the future arriving? Will you walk down the street or go to the gym in a few years and see everybody staring at their watches, flicking through screens non-stop, like they do with their iPhones today? Will our world replace house, office and car keys with smart watches?  Is this an inevitable evolutionary step, or just a passing trend? Is it Science Fiction, Science Friction, or Science Reality?


The worlds first real watch that delivers on the promise of delivering a Dick-Tracy-like watch just arrived yesterday, with the advent of the Samsung Gear S Smart-watch. This Samsung works independently and can make and receive 3G phone calls on its own, and it's not far off from the Dick Tracy vision.

As a matter of fact, it goes way beyond the original Dick Tracy wrist phone since it comes standard with a 260x480 pixel curved Super AMOLED display, and also features a GPS sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, heart-rate monitor, and UV detector. The GPS sensor not only offers turn by turn directions, but can also remember where you parked your car, and can direct you to it! 

And look at the crazy, super-high screen resolution on this display. If you look closely at the simulated analog display, you can see the micro-sub minute markers like they are on an actual dial with crystal clarity...this is just crazy detailed...and this is NOT the black and white low-res screen calculator watch of yesteryear...This is not a joke...Things are getting very serious, very quickly...




The Samsung Gear S comes standard with 4GB of memory, coupled with 512 of RAM, coupled to a Dual-Core 1Ghz processor. It also includes Bluetooth 4.0. When it comes to specs, it is remarkably similar to the first generation iPhone–but it fits on your wrist...




The following Samsung Mobile video gives a fairly comprehensive and deeply inspirational overview of the new Samsung Gear S...



There has been an ongoing debate for a few years now about wether or not smart-watches will displace traditional wrist watches, thus the most obvious question is what effect this will have–if any–on Rolex? And most importantly, is Rolex gearing up to counter the competition with its own smart-watch? In other words, what will a new Rolex look like in 10-20 years from now? Will it still just be all mechanical, or will it evolve into something else? Will Rolex watches in the future, evolve into smart watches or will they remain stupid watches? This really is the $64,000 question...




Many people have dismissed smart watches as being gimmicky toys, as apposed to being real tools, but in my opinion the new Samsung Gear-S Smartwatch introduced yesterday demonstrates the threat is real and credible, and should be taken very seriously!!! 

After all, this new generation of smart watches is still just in its infancy. Think about how much the iPhone has evolved in just the past 7 years, and since technological evolution is exponential in nature, think about how useful and powerful smart watches are likely to become in the next decade!?!



Don't forget these shots across the bow of the Swiss Watch industry are just an opening salvo. And don't think for one moment it is Rolex that potentially has something to lose. The entire Swiss watch industry is befuddled by Apple and smart watches, and has attempted to discount the value proposition of such a product, much in the same way Steve Balmer, the CEO of Microsoft tried to do when asked about the potential for success with the original iPhone in 2007 as seen in the video below:



I must say I am personally amazed and how quickly Samsung has iterated, and pushed the innovation envelope with the advent of the Samsung Gear S smart watch. If this is a harbinger of what is to come, what is now considered to be the roof, will quickly become the new floor.



The video above gives an excellent overview of the all-new Samsung Smartwatch due out in October. Samsung has not announced pricing yet, and they are probably waiting to see how Apple prices their iWatch, which will likely be introduced next week in Northern California. The photo below shows the new Samsung worn on a woman's wrist as she text messages.







"Swiss watchmakers are f**ked!"
–Sir Jonathan Ive [Chief Apple Designer]


The real threat could and should come from Apple next week. The New York Times just published an article that quoted Apple head designer Jonathan Ive as saying "Swiss watchmakers are 'f**ked", as well as saying "Switzerland is in trouble."



Apple has a special event scheduled for Tuesday, September 9th @ 10am Pacific Standard Time, and it is widely believed they will introduce the Apple iWatch Smartwatch at that event alongside the very highly anticipated new iPhone 6 models.

So what is the big deal? How could a Northern California based company displace the Swiss watch industry. That would be impossible, wouldn't it!?!

Apple is extremely ambitious, and only aims very, very high–basically for the top. Before Apple introduced the iPhone, the key smartphone players were Nokia, Palm, Blackberry, Sony-Ericsson, Motorola and Microsoft Windows Mobile, which since have all gone the way of the dodo bird. Apple single-handedly annihilated the entire marketplace, and the only company they haven't decimated is Samsung. So that is why next Tuesday is perhaps going to be the single most interesting day in Rolex history!?! Will Apple come after Rolex and the rest of the Swiss Watch Industry? 

Last time this happened, was in the late sixties during the Quartz crisis, of which Rolex was the sole beneficiary. The Swiss watch industry is very healthy today, but that could all change very quickly if Apple takes serious and decisive action. There is no doubt Rolex can weather just about any storm Apple can subject it to. The real question in my mind is how prepared is Rolex to fight such a battle? Will Rolex rest on its laurels, and argue that they just make old-fashioned mechanical watches, or will they do what the old man would have done, if he were still alive?

When I say "The old man", I am referring to Rolex's founder, Hans Wilsdorf. Hans Wilsdorf iterated Rolex every day of his life, and basically invented the smart watch. If I could bring Hans Wilsdorf back from the grave today, after getting him back up to speed on what has happened in the watch industry since he passed away in 1960, the two greatest questions I would ask hime would be:

1. What do you think about the advent of Quartz technology? Or how would you have handled Quartz technology back in the late sixties? Don't forget that Rolex was part of the Swiss Beta 21 consortium that developed Quartz, and ironically failed to figure out how to successfully implement it. Instead the Japanese grabbed it and ran with it, which resulted in the Quartz crisis of the 1970s. Rolex was able to weather that storm as previously mentioned because the old man left Rolex in such a strong position when he passed away.

2. The second questions would be, to ask the old man what he thinks about the state of modern smartwatches in 2015. In other words, if Hans Wilsdorf were alive today, would he go pedal to the medal into making Rolex smart watches, or would he ride the brakes, and stay with old-fashioned mechanical watches. In my opinion, having studied and documented Hans Wilsforf's career far more closely than any other Rolex historian, I would guestimate he would go full speed ahead (pedal to the metal) with trying to continue to innovate on the wrist.

So once again, this begs the question about wether Rolex has plans to introduce their own smart watches in the future? Is Rolex going to compete, or sit on the sidelines and try and wait this one out? If they try and wait it out, they risk losing their position of dominance in the Swiss watch industry. In my opinion, this smartwatch situation, for lack of a better  term, is different than the Quartz Crisis. There is much, much more at stake this time around. This time, Rolex potentially has Apple, which is the best capitalized company in the world, breathing down their neck.

So what will happen? It is going to be awfully interesting to watch (pun intended), and as they say, time will tell...which is why I titled this article, "The Moment Of Truth Is Upon Us." If Apple does not announce the iWatch next week, or if they do and they deliver a dud, we'll have to wait longer to find out the outcome of the ensuing battle. Also it is worth noting Samsung's all new smart watch is EXTREMELY impressive, and I would not underestimate their drive. If Apple has the prowess, I believe they do, and they deliver an excellent 1.0 version iWatch next week, then I say, watch out for flying brick!!!!!



The SmartWatch DreamTeam?

In a surprise announcement, on Friday, September 5, 2014, Apple announced that famous designer, Marc Newsom is joining Apple's design team.

"Marc is without question one of the most influential designers of this generation,” Ive said in a statement provided to VF Daily. “He is extraordinarily talented. We are particularly excited to formalize our collaboration as we enjoy working together so much and have found our partnership so effective." –Sir Jonathan Ive


Marc Newsom and Sir Jonathan Ive are pictured above. They are close friends and have collaborated in the past on design projects. Also, Marc Newsom has experience in watch design. Arial Adams from ABlogToWatch.com wrote an excellent overview of Marc Newsom's watch design history, which I recommend checking out. Below is a video of Marc Newsom talking about his watch design career.




Non of this really should come as a surprise since, Apple has been recently putting together the ultimate dream-team for designing, manufacturing and marketing the Apple iWatch. This includes Apple recently hiring Angela Ahrendts, who is the former CEO or Burburry, who is renewed for being "Wicked Smart" according to Forbes.



So what does all this mean? I recognize I could be overestimating Apple's seriousness, but I really don't think I am. What does this mean for Rolex? Hard to say. Who knows, perhaps Rolex will end up working with Apple to build a Rolex SmartWatch. I think Rolex is safe, since no matter what, there will always be customers who appreciate and prefer the old-school design aesthetic of the classic Rolex watches. 

At the same time, I think Rolex should continue in the early decades of the 21st Century to innovate the way they did in the early decades of the 20th Century. After all it is in their DNA. Don't forget Rolex also has a new CEO, Jean-Frédéric Dufour coming on board soon, and he is the first Rolex CEO in history to come on-board from outside Rolex. Hopefully he will have the wisdom, insight and moxie to keep Rolex at the forefront of horological innovation, and as they say, hopefully he will be able to Think Different!



Arial Adams from ABlogToWatch.com recently wrote an article about this same subject, and sees things quite differently (no pun intended) than my perspective, while adding additional insight. I recommend reading Arial's fascinating counterpoint argument.

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