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Rolex platforms centuries of independent horology in new content series

April 13, 2023

In the brand's latest slot, independence, preserved history and modernity meet. Image credit: Rolex In the brand's new slot, independence, heritage and modernity meet, painting a horological identity. Image credit: Rolex


Swiss watchmaker Rolex is touting a strong sense of self in the latest campaign, highlighting artisanal know-how and deep roots.

The company’s signature “Superlative” label sits at the center of this latest slot, with the high quality of the watches being credited to the skilled watchmakers, the founder’s spirit of ingenuity and Rolex’s “autonomy.” The programming is divided into three topic areas in this messaging effort, “Excellence in the making,” “Behind the seal” and “Rolex anatomy.”

"The art of watchmaking is very evident in this full-fledged campaign; a return to the ‘métier’ of watches," said Rony Zeidan, founder and creative director of RO New York.

"Rolex is a brand that is not given the right accolades within the watch industry, but has a very high consumer loyalty due to heritage, name recognition and classic style," Mr. Zeidan said. "This campaign plays up the heritage aspect of the brand with the art of watchmaking quite beautifully."

Matter of time
The campaign is largely identity-affirming, tying the brand’s heritage to its modern-day goals.

The first part of the programming brings in the company’s innate individuality. Pointing to the invention of the word “Rolex” in 1908 by founder Hans Wilsdorf (see story), this foundational enactment of agency is positioned as a key to “excellence.”

What makes a Rolex a Rolex?

“Having these exacting standards from the outset meant gradually incorporating all the know-how and every expertise into the manufacture, thus guaranteeing the brand’s autonomy and integrity,” the campaign states.

This concept of “autonomy” is pivotal in the messaging.

Rolex furthers this ideal by way of celebrating the achievements of partnering “trailblazers” – from explorers to scientists to athletes, the brand has been teaming up with those pushing the limits for over a century (see story). Their independence is praised, being identified as “the men and women who, in their own time, made their mark and continue to do so in ours.”

It is this spirit of human accomplishment that inspires Rolex watchmaking, the watchmakers honing in on “precision and autonomy” through new movements and horological concepts, according to the brand.

“...our will to constantly push limits would be in vain were it not for our autonomy,” the campaign continues. “It is by integrating every know-how and consistently perfecting them that we were able to create our own rules and superlative standards.”

In “Behind the seal,” the conversation transitions into the ways in which Rolex applies its horological and mechanical know-how.

From water-resistant measures to support undersea adventures to timeless durability that is made to last, the area of the campaign outlines the knowledge that company watchmakers have passed down.

Words that stand the test of time

The segment also intersects an embrace of modern technology with the value of heritage watchmaking. As consumers both want meaningful purchasing experiences and innovation, the move is suited to the shifting market (see story).

The durability additionally provides a level of sustainability to the brand’s draw, as it lessens needed levels of consumption – rather than buying lots of watches, one watch will do just fine. This also fits current consumer demands, placing Rolex beside brands like Swiss jeweler Chopard that have welcomed green offerings (see story).

"Watches are inherently timeless," Mr. Zeidan said.

"A vintage Rolex from the 50s has a great caché as much as the new styles of Rolex coming out," he said. "In a world where the greatest hype and the next big thing has its [own] market, the classic approach does too."

In the final act of the three-part campaign, “Rolex anatomy” culminates all that came before. Brand identity and modern technological advances come together.

As a result, Rolex celebrates the act of asking questions, stating that it “encourages us to surpass ourselves and opens us to new perspectives.” It is through these “perpetual questions” that the brand’s individual watches are able to be made, per the campaign.

Getting engaged
The campaign sits comfortably in an industry driven by the consumer demand for engaging content.

Brands that present a customer-facing sense of self and set of values are performing well amidst this push. At Watches and Wonders 2023 in Geneva, the fusion of roots and future was highlighted by brands from around the world (see story).

This is also being explored by horological brands, like Rolex, digitally. Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre is a recent example, releasing the heritage-centric “In The Making” campaign (see story).

Swiss watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet is advertising along the same lines, catering especially to young consumers (see story). The “Seek Beyond” campaign explored the ways in which the company’s history can complement modernization, rather than holding it back.

Rolex joins these Swiss names in crediting innovation to a preserved heritage, all while setting itself apart in its discussions of autonomy; the power of making its own choices.

"Rolex is a standalone brand in the world of horology," Mr. Zeidan said.

"It has withstood the test of time, especially during the pandemic when consumers were purchasing Rolex for investment reasons [and] there was a shortage," he said. "So the timing for this campaign is spot on, and reckoning a commercial brand with the savoir-faire is very apropos."