What do Rolex and Apple both have in common?

Review of the Rolex GMT Master II [116710BLNR] aka ‘The Batman’ Dial, hands, cyclops date window, hour markers and Rolex markings

What does a Californian tech company founded in April 1976 and the world’s biggest luxury watch brand both have in common? Surprisingly quite a lot!

Despite being founded geographically 5,364 miles apart on opposing sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and separated by 71 years of time from the date they were both founded – Apple and Rolex are remarkably similar.

This article will explore what exactly they have both done to become so very successful!



Rolex is one of the most powerful brands on the planet being ranked by Forbes as the 64th most valuable brand (as of may 2016). Originally Rolex was founded by Alfred Davis and Hans Wilsdorf to create a wristwatch that was both elegant and reliable.

Whilst they may not make the most expensive watches, constructed from ultra exotic rare materials or be the first to embrace new technologies when they arise – it’s all to their advantage. They may not have been the first to make a water-resistant divers wristwatch but their Rolex Submariner is not only synonymous with diving watches – it’s ‘The dive watch’.DSC_0935

Landmark innovations

  • 1910 – Rolex became the first wristwatch maker to obtain a Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision for a watch worn on the wrist for exceptional movement quality.
  • “Oyster” watch 1926 – First water and dust-resistant wristwatch, that would the following year be worn by the English swimmer Mercedes Gleitze on her 10-hour cross-channel challenge.
  • Datejust [ref.4467] 1945 – The first watch with an automatically changing date function shown via a date window in addition to being to an automatic chronometer. [Shop Rolex Datejust Here].Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust II: Hands-On Review [116300 Silver Index] - Laying on side with time set to 10:10:30 with a black background
  • Submariner [ref.6204] 1953 – First divers watch water-resistant to a depth of 100m (330 feet) – including a rotating bezel to allow divers to calculate remaining immersion time quickly. [Shop Rolex Submariners Here].Watch laying down facing right - Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]
  • Rolex GMT Master [ref.6542] 1954 – First watch to show two-time zones simultaneously – helping jet pilots and frequent flyers keep track of time in multiple locations. [Shop Rolex GMT Master II Here].Review of the Rolex GMT Master II [116710BLNR] aka ‘The Batman’
  • Day-Date 1956 – First watch to automatically change both the day and date on the dial of the watch – Only ever made in gold or platinum this prestigious wristwatch is famous for sitting on the wrists of many powerful world leaders. [Shop Day-Date Here].


Apple was the first company ever to reach a value in excess of US$700 Billion in 2015 who at that time employed 115,000 people full-time. And by the end of the 2015 fiscal year, they had generated 1.25% of the total GDP of the United States, with worldwide annual revenue totalling an incomprehensible US$233 billion.

They having amassed this gargantuan fortune with the creation of the modern smartphone ‘The iPhone’, that has since changed all our lives by making communications with one another so much easier. The iPod and iTunes revolutionised how we buy and consume music electronically – a trend that is not only confined to digital goods but physical ones too. Consumers can now not only buy music and apps online but groceries, gadgets and luxury watches.

Landmark Innovations

  • Apple II – One of the first personal computers that had colour graphics and went on to become the fastest-selling personal computer of its time.

  • iMac 1998 –  Was the first all-in-one personal computer.
  • iTunes January 2001 – Revolutionised how we buy products.
  • iPod October 2001 – Whilst the iPod was not the first MP3 player, its iconic design and ease of use helped it monopolise the music player market.
  • iPhone January 2007 – In 8 years the revolutionary iPhone has sold approximately 775 million units and taken up to 70% of worldwide profits for smartphones (in 2013).
  • iPad April 2010 – The iPad gave us the power of a desktop computer but wrapped in an object that can be held between your hands.


This table gives us a broad insight into the differences between the two companies.

 Rolex Apple
Founded date  1905  April 1, 1976 (Incorporated January 3, 1977)
Founded location

London, United Kingdom

Garage of Paul and Clara Jobs home, on Crist Drive in Los Altos, California
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland Apple Campus
Cupertino, California,
Number of employes  2,800

115,000 (as of July 2015)

Revenue  US$7.4 billion (2012)  US$233.715 billion (2015)
Forbes most powerful global brands rating  #64  #1


 Luxury – Watches  Technology – Phones, Tablets, Computers, MP3 Players, TV Boxes, Watches, Software, Online services


Both of these especially wealthy company’s have an incredibly similar design template for when they are creating products. They are both seen as an innovator in their respective industries. But are not in the market of creating gimmicky spectacles of products, but rather to build a lasting legacy of excellence. Neither Rolex or Apple have a primary goal of making money – this is secondary to making excellent watches, computers and software. And despite both company’s not selling the most expensive products in their industry’s, there are far more expensive watches and phones from their competitors, they are still considered the best products that money can buy.


The designers responsible for creating Apple products like Sir Jonathan Ive, and the founder of Rolex Hans Wilsdorf have both been driven by a desire for a clean elegant design that serves the clear purpose of simply creating the best. 

Hands-On Review: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Stainless Steel ref. 116520 (Black)

The Rolex Submariner has been designed with highly legible white hands and hour markers with a luminescent fill to assist in low light environments like underwater. The bezel has simple grooves cut into it for additional grip when turning the bezel – which only turns in one direction so divers don’t run out of oxygen when diving. It’s because of this focus of energies to create the best diving watch  without adding any unnecessary components that their designs have risen up to become so iconic.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust II: Hands-On Review [116300 Silver Index] - Dial close up with watch on a grey background

It has been due to the iPhones brilliant design – that it has enjoyed such astronomical success! Its construction is devoid of any unnecessary clutter that would detract from its purpose of being the best phone money can buy.

The following is a quote from Jonathan Ive who is behind the iPhones design:

I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity; in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation. It’s about bringing order to complexity. Quote by Sir Jonathan Ive

Both of these brands share an incredibly similar design template that has helped led them to their success. Their products have a very clean design that shuns clutter for clutters sake, using only the best materials and a low number of solid parts to increase the lasting durability and reliability of their products.


At the time, Hans Wilsdorf founded his London company for the distribution of timepieces he was driven by a dream that one day, watches may be worn on the wrist but maintain a high accuracy and look elegant simultaneously. A dream few people shared with him at the time.

Whilst Rolex may not be the first name associated with innovating new products. They have an impressive list of world firsts; from, the DateJust and Day-Date ,to the Submariner and GMT Master.


Apple has reshaped the tech-world landscape in a manner similar to an atomic bomb. Once they released the iPod, iPhone and iPad everything on the tech landscape changed.

Rolex has in recent years updated the clasp mechanism on many of their tool watches like the upgraded Glidelock adjustment system that allows the wearer to extend the length of the watch’s strap in 2mm increments up to a total of 20mm without the need for any tools.

Watch facing left with bracelet and clasp in view - Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]Both companies have released revolutionary new products that tend to solve practical problems that people face. After these releases, updated iterations tend to be minor and only refine what was already good into the great. The new format iPhones are replaced with an s series with improved internals because there’s simply no reason to replace what is already an excellent exterior. After Rolex have released a new watch any further updates are usually rather minor. Not because the previous version was not any good, rather new materials and manufacturing techniques become available and society’s ideals change.

Both innovative brands are not in the market of making something different and new for fun. Which is fairly easy to do. But to instead make something that is sincerity a better product. Something that very few can acclaim to have accomplished.


Each company share a similar goal for what they want to achieve. Neither have wealth as their primary desire – although both certainly have a lot of it. In Jonathan Ives own words:

Our goal is to desperately make the best products we can. We’re not naive. We trust that if we’re successful and we make good products, that people will like them. And we trust that if people like them, they’ll buy them. And we figured out the operation and we’re effective. We know what we’re doing, so we’ll make money, but it’s a consequence. – Jonathan Ive

Rolex and Apple also both share comparable company goals. They haven’t focused their efforts solely on creating vast quantities of wealth but to make the best watch, computer or software on the planet. Rolex, when founded by Hans Wilsdorf, had the goal of making the most accurate and reliable wristwatch ever created. Through their toil and hard work, a Rolex wristwatch became the first to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision in 1910. Then in 194 the Kew Observatory in Great Britain awarded Rolex a class A precision certificate, an award that had until that point been reserved for the big and weighty marine chronometers. Rolex’s success has to a degree been through their ethos. Because they worked to create the first super accurate wristwatch Rolex has forever after become synonymous with precision.

Rolex COSC tag on the Rolex GMT Master II [116710BLNR] aka ‘The Batman’
Both Apple and Rolex also share the same obsession for control of their products creation, production, and openness to the public. Rolex creates everything they can in-house, their movements, casings, and even have their own metal foundry for all the gold and platinum watches they make. The only things they don’t make themselves are the synthetic sapphire crystals and some of the dial hands.

Apple’s secrecy is unparalleled in the tech industry with accounts telling of software engineers and hardware designers not even communicating with each other while creating a new product. The lockdown of unreleased products has created such a legacy that there are entire sites dedicated to discussing the latest Apple rumours. They are also known for how locked down their products are when they ship. Some of the original macs and now mobile devices are physically locked down in that specialised tools are required to open them. The software will happily talk to another apple device but on occasion have difficulties communicating with competitors systems. And if they do choice to open something up for developers – it takes an awfully long amount of time. Siri was released in October 2011 and has only just been opened up to developers in June 2016.

Some of the thinking behind both company’s ethos of secrecy and independence is that if they have compleat control of what they create – they will not be impeded in their pursuit to make the best products ever created.


Neither brand is particularly expensive by design. Yes, £10K is admittedly a lot of money for a watch, but there are plenty of vastly more expensive watches available. And Apples Macs cost at a premium above your usual windows PC. But it is down to all the little detailings and efforts both companies have gone to that give them both an edge over competitors. Because both companies focus their efforts to create the best products in their respected markets, they are both able to successfully sell products at a considerably higher margin than competitors.

Hands-On Review: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Stainless Steel ref. 116520 (Black) - Rolex Daytona sitting on its supplied box

When looking at the resale value of both brands they both enjoy a strong value retention. Apple’s electronic devices whilst in a world where each new product is updated every year and makes the previous obsolete, they hold value better than competitors. Rolex’s watches (particularly the stainless steel sports models) are perhaps the best example of a mass-produced mechanical watch that endures, being excellent at holding its value (and even gaining some over time).

Sales of vintage Apple computers and Rolex’s are also incredibly strong.

  • In 2013 a working Apple 1 computer was sold for a record sum of 

    $671,400 in Germany.

  • A stainless steel Daytona [6263] nicknamed “Albino”, of which there are only four known examples in existence, sold for $1,418,000 (£909,000) breaking all previous Rolex records.

The Verdict

More than simply making great products, Rolex and Apple make the whole buying and using their products a highly gratifying experience! Not only are the items they make desirable, but the feeling one gets when going to buy a product from them, unwrapping the box, and using the product are all incredibly satisfying. All with the knowledge that what you’ve brought is the best that money can buy!

You can buy all the Rolex watches featured in this article and more by visiting our [Shop Here]!

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