The Gentleman Magazine Issue 3 | June/July - Page 14

CELEBRATING 60 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE THE START OF A SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIP The roots of Rolex’s affinity for sports and human achievement can be traced back to the pioneering origins of the company. In an era when wristwatches were still regarded as fragile items of apparel, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf was determined to create a timepiece that would be robust, precise and reliable, adapting to ever more active lifestyles. In 1927, the year after Hans Wilsdorf developed the cornerstone of the company’s success, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, the Rolex Oyster, he equipped a young sportswoman, Mercedes Gleitze, with the innovative wristwatch to swim the English Channel. At the end of her arduous swim, after more than 10 hours in the water, the watch emerged in perfect working order. Mercedes Gleitze was effectively the first Rolex Testimonee, a witness to the uncompromised performance of the Oyster who also demonstrated its real-life qualities. It became the wristwatch that defied the elements, an essential feature for those engaged in exploration or sports. Since then, Rolex has accompanied many of humanity’s greatest feats as men and women have broken long-standing record defying the elements and exploring the globe’s most forbidding frontiers – from the tallest peaks to the deepest oceans. As they pushed the boundaries of human endeavour, these men and women also provided a demanding proving ground for the Oyster wristwatch, as a robust, reliable and practical timepiece in any circumstance. Rolex continues its constant pursuit of perfection to this day, and in doing so, the brand has become a symbol for elegance and prestige. It was thus a natural progression for Rolex to partner with the sport of equestrianism, which shares these heralding values. 14 | The Gentleman Magazine The relationships started in 1957 with Rolex’s first equestrian Testimonee with one of the greatest female showjumpers to ever represent Great Britain. Pat Smythe became a household name in the late 1940’s for her international equestrian accomplishments as well, as for expanding the gender boundaries for her most-cherished sport. Smythe’s list of equestrian achievements is long and prolific. She was the first woman to travel the world competing internationally, winning major Grand Prix events on her own horses in more countries than any man or woman had ever done before. In 1956 she was the first woman to ride in the Olympics show jumping event and the first ever to win a medal. Since that pivotal association, Rolex’s support and contribution to equestrianism has grown and prospered. Today, the brand is proud to champion many of the sport’s leading athletes and events; from Brazilian show jumper Rodrigo Pessoa, to Scott Brash, from Scotland and the historic and prestigious CHIO Aachen equestrian competition in Germany, as well as the rise of the iconic Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Rolex has built on this relationship, which in 2017 marks the brand’s special 60-year anniversary as the crown in equestrian sport. SIX DECADES MARKED BY MOMENTS OF GLORY With exactly 60 years of partnership together, the relationship between Rolex and equestrianism has contributed to many of the sport’s greatest moments. One that will be remembered for all time is when Rolex Testimonee Scott Brash earned equestrianism’s greatest, most challenging accolade: the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Created jointly in 2013 by CHIO Aachen, CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping rewards the rider who wins the Grand Prix at each of the shows, amounting to three Grands Prix in succession.