5 More Remarkable Rolex Ads From Days Gone By Oh, for a time machine… by Jorg WeppelinkFebruary 21, 2020 MIN READ5 More Remarkable Rolex Ads From Days Gone By
Rolex has a rich history of advertising built for decades. The brand has produced some of the most remarkable ads ever created by a watch brand. In this recurring series, we take a look at the most iconic ads Rolex has created over the years.
One of the most exciting and fun things to do when diving into the history of a watch brand is to look at their advertising. Rolex has always been a brand that has created some of the most remarkable ads in the industry, not least because they are connected to outstanding achievements and famous people. Some of the advertisements are stylish, some of them are thought-provoking, and some are blessed with an excellent sense of humor. All of them represent a certain time. And all of them have this typically self-assured Rolex tone of voice. In this installment of the series, we take a look at two of the most famous Rolex brand ambassadors ever, a Norwegian explorer that truly deserves to wear his Rolex, one of the most iconic Rolex ads ever and an incredibly stylish ad by an authorized dealer from the past.
1. The Ultimate Brand Ambassador
Let’s start this list of 5 more Rolex ads off with possibly the ultimate brand ambassador for any brand. Roger Federer has captured the hearts of many all over the world including mine with his incredible style of tennis, his unbelievable list of accomplishments, and his classy and stand up personality off the court. Oh, and he’s also Swiss. It couldn’t be any better…
At the time it was one of the most lucrative deals in sports ever. It turned out to be a bargain.
Rolex partnered up with Federer back in 2006 when he was 24 years old and already on his way of becoming a legend. Federer had always endorsed Rolex watches but signed a 5 year deal with Maurice Lacroix in 2004. In 2006, after paying a ‘break-up fee’ to Maurice Lacroix, Federer signed a 10-year deal with Rolex worth 15 million dollars. At the time it was one of the most lucrative deals in sports ever. It turned out to be a bargain. In 2017 Federer and Rolex signed a new deal that earns Federer 8 million dollars every year. And the deal has no end date so we can probably expect Federer to be one of the faces of Rolex for decades to come and I would love nothing more as a tennis player and a big fan of Federer.
And although I also think Federer can pull off any Rolex there is, the Milgauss 116400 GV pictured in the ad is not a watch I would immediately associate with him. He has worn the Milgauss 116400 GV on numerous occasions however and there have been multiple campaigns where Federer could be seen wearing the watch. Another detail is the look in Federer’s eyes. What do you make of his stare in the camera?
By looking at the ads we can see the incredible longevity Federer has as an athlete.
The fun thing about this ad is also that it is part of a bigger series of Rolex, “Live For Greatness,” ads that feature a great number of cultural icons and young sports stars. By looking at the ads we can see the incredible longevity Federer has as an athlete. The series also featured German golfer Martin Kaymer, Italian golfer Matteo Manassero, Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic and Chinese tennis player Li Na and all of them have either quit playing professional sports or have not been able to keep playing on the highest of levels to remain the face of their respective sports.
It shows the incredible career that Federer has had and still has. As far as I’m concerned we will be able to see Federer play for many years to come. And when he does decide to quit playing tennis professionally, at least we can be pretty sure he will be the face for Rolex for many years to come.
2. Whose Face Are We Looking At?
This is one of those iconic Rolex ads that every Rolex enthusiast knows. This ad from 1967 belongs in the same group of iconic ads like the Rolex Explorer Matterhorn ad and the Submariner Bond ad. In the ad, we see the Rolex Submariner (ref. 5513) on the wrist of a naval officer. His face is half-hidden behind the periscope. The text refers to the USS Skate, Shark, and Nautilus, all three nuclear-powered submarines of the US Navy. The USS Nautilus was the first nuclear-powered submarine in the world. It was also the first submarine to reach the North Pole in 1958.
The USS Skate was the second submarine to reach the North Pole and the first to break through the ice of the North Pole in 1959. A couple of years after the other two submarines reached the North Pole, the USS Shark completed a trio of nuclear submarines that were the pride of the US Navy.
Rolex hints at recognizing the face of the Commander who is only half visible in the picture…
Rolex wasn’t the first watch brand connected to the USS Skate and Nautilus. In 1958 Jaeger LeCoultre famously gifted the Commanders of the USS Skate (Calvert) and Nautilus (Anderson) a Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic on behalf of the people of Geneva. The Geophysic worn by Captain William R. Anderson is currently part of the private collection of Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre. But back to this ad. I love how Rolex hints at recognizing the face of the Commander who is only half visible in the picture, only to reveal in the smaller text that they are referring to the iconic Submariner.
I love this ad. While it puts great focus on the beautiful Submariner, there is so much more to discover in the picture. From the face of the Captain to the ring on his finger. And the small text at the bottom of the ad that contains contact details and an asterisk text referring to the text in the black area. Although I understand they had to put this text somewhere, it’s pretty far removed from the text it is referring to. Another small detail is how the Rolex logo is tucked away to the side of the text of the ad. Why not place it underneath the text? It’s these small little details that give this iconic ad it’s quirky details. I love that about the vintage Rolex ads.
3. Traveling In Style With The GMT-Master
Rolex did not create this ad. It was created by Allemann Uhren und Juwelen as an authorized dealer of Rolex watches in cooperation with Rolex. Allemann was based in Zürich, Switzerland and also had a store on 5th Avenue in New York. The reason I chose this ad was because of its incredible sixties style. The ad tells the story of the businessman in the picture who looks pretty happy traveling all over the world. ‘Today in London — tomorrow in Paris — and next week in Tokyo!” This gentleman is living the good life!
The text below reads like his GMT-Master (ref. 1675) is his personal assistant making sure he is in time for all his appointments. It literally states, “It reminds you of appointments and can also be used as a chronograph. Do like the Pan Am Airline pilots and like this successful businessman: also wear a Rolex!”
By the looks of it, the man in the picture is pretty happy. He looks sharp in his dark suit with his stylish glasses, along with his GMT-Master. I also love the design of the plane seat. It looks very comfortable for long haul travel. All in all, it seems like the perfect ad that would have sent me on my way to Alleman to check out some of the amazing Rolex watches. And I guess that’s also where the Rolex crown was going when the ad was printed. Why is it placed so far to the right on its own?
I did some research into Allemann and did not find out a great deal. What I did find out is that the stores do not exist anymore. At the listed address of the store in Zürich, there is currently a Loro Piana store. Another thing I found is a travel map of Zürich that Allemann sponsored and is for sale on eBay. In the pictures on eBay, you can see what the store looked like. It was located at the Bahnhofstrasse 26 in Zürich. The last thing I found was a number of ads created by Alleman for a Jaeger LeCoultre that also looked pretty classy. I guess we can say that the people at Allemann knew how to create some great ads back in the day.
4. A Perfect Pair Of Explorers
This two-page ad features Norwegian explorer, lawyer, art collector, entrepreneur, politician, author, and publisher Erlin Kagge and his Rolex Explorer II. And you probably read Kagge’s description with as much amazement as I did. It seems like Kagge is the real-life superman that can do it all. In 1990 Kagge and fellow explorer Børge Ousland were the first people to reach the North Pole without any support, which means they traveled 800 kilometers on skis pulling 120 kilograms of supplies. One of the amazing stories about the trip is that on the way to the North Pole, they encountered a polar bear that decided to attack them and unfortunately they had to kill the animal to survive themselves and make it to their destination.
In 1992-1993 Kagge walked to the South Pole all by himself and without any support. The 1,310 km trip lasted for 50 days and during that time he had no radio contact with the outside world. And in 1994 became the first person to complete the ‘Three Poles Challenge’ when he summited Mountain Everest. It’s an incredible story and with this incredible story comes an incredible watch. During his travels, Kagge wore his Rolex Explorer II and it had to endure temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius. The absolutely best thing about this ad is the brilliant copy that refers to Kagge’s extraordinary achievements engraved on the back and links it to Kagge and his watch both being Explorers. I absolutely love the simple but spot-on use of words stating facts.
How the hell is his sled getting across the crevasse?
The last thing I want to point out is the image of Kagge crossing what looks like a crevasse. I have to say it looks like Kagge was taking a big risk with that big step and how the hell is his sled getting across the crevasse? And it looks like he could have passed safely a little further to the left where the person that took the picture is. But all these questions only increase the power of this ad and the respect for the watch that accompanied Kagge on all his travels. It’s a perfect match of two incredible Explorers and that’s why this ad is so powerful.
5. A Perfect Pair Of Explorers
The last ad in this list of another 5 iconic Rolex ads is a tribute to Chuck Yeager. Yeager is probably the greatest Rolex brand ambassador ever. He is a former pilot who was active in the United States Air Force from 1941 to 1975. He is a World War II, Vietnam, and Cold War veteran. And, in 1969, he was promoted to brigadier general after serving almost 30 years.
Yeager was awarded a number of honorary medals. Those included a Purple Heart, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star Medal and a Legion of Merit. In 1947, Yeager became the first pilot in history to break the speed of sound in level flight in his Bell X-1 plane. It made Chuck Yeager a legendary pilot all over the world. The most remarkable thing for watch enthusiasts? He was wearing his Rolex Oyster Perpetual wristwatch while breaking the speed of sound.
Yeager actually bought the watch himself.
Yeager actually bought the watch himself. After he broke the speed of sound he sent a handwritten card to Rolex in Geneva complimenting the company for creating such a remarkable watch. In the following 60 years after the fact, Chuck Yeager has become one of the most famous Rolex ambassadors often wearing his Rolex GMT-Master (ref. 1675). As such, he is a favorite Rolex brand ambassador amongst many Rolex enthusiasts.
Yeager is still alive today and is 97 years old.
I specifically chose this ad because it is incredibly powerful and iconic. There is no watch in the ad. Only the iconic picture of Chuck Yeager and a small piece of text. There is nothing more to explain or say about the ad. It’s beautiful and iconic and in my opinion, one of the best Rolex ads ever created. Check out some of the other ads featuring Yeager. And while you’re at it, read all about this extraordinary man. This short text about the ad does not do the man justice. The most amazing thing is that Yeager is still alive today and is 97 years old.
Thus concludes our fourth list of remarkable Rolex ads. Let us know if there are any unusual Rolex ads that you’d like us to look into. Part 5 is currently underway and will feature some unique ads sent to us by Fratello readers.
More information about Rolex on their official website.
*Some ads used from these sources can be traced back to Rolex Magazine, a website dedicated to this brand. I sourced the others from Pinterest.
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About the author
Jorg has been working in marketing & communications for 15 years. He is specialised in developing brand strategy, brand portfolio, brand design and brand communications. Besides, he loves watches and the stories that make them worthwhile. He can be spotted… read more
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