Watch book are never cheap, but released this week is a new Rolex book, “Rolex Highlights,” by Herbert James published by Schiffer and readily available on Amazon. This 95 page book is filled with Rolex images and covers provides a great synopsis on the company’s history from its founding to almost present day. The inside front cover explains why book’s historical span ends in 2013. Rolex Highlights was initially published in German in 2013 then translated to English in 2014. Despite this slight drawback there is another larger compensation, price. Rolex Highlights costs less than $30.00. In an era when hardcover watch books start well north of $50.00, Rolex Highlights is a breath of fresh air.
Rolex Highlights intends to give an overview of what Rolex built since its 1908 inception, dedicating a number of pages to Rolex’s founder Hans Wilsdorf. The book shows Rolex’s expansion into an entirely vertically integrated company where the company manufactures everything in its watches with practically non-existent outsourcing. In addition to Rolex’s history, the book highlights important Rolex models from back in the day to 2013.
The book starts with Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, and later Alfred Davis and background on how Wilsdorf coined the Rolex name. Wilsdorf strove for a wristwatch that would survive everyday elements such as water and dust, both timekeeper killers at the turn of the 20th century, as well as being more accurate than pocket watches, -the timekeeper de-jure at the time. Rolex Highlights takes the reader behind the thinking of the Oyster case, and the pursuit of chronometer certificates, as well as the importance of adventurers’ testimonials such as Mercedes Gleitze swimming across the English Channel and Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summiting Mount Everest.
The middle third of Rolex Highlights discusses Rolex manufacturing and the company’s growth and its effort to control everything from design, metal, tools, storage, and everything that goes into a Rolex watch. Rolex today is much different than the rest of the watch industry, and even more different than when the company was founded in 1908.
The last third of the book covers historically significant models spanning up to present day. Each watch profiled is well photographed and contains a description, features, technical data, and price in both US dollars and Euros. Reading these pages gives the reader the feeling that they are in a museum. Each section of the book is like entering a different museum exhibit with a background card on each section, and a talking card for each model.
Rolex Highlights a great primer on Rolex, especially for people not familiar with their watches or the company. My only criticism of the book is that much of the information and photos are pulled from the Rolex website or from Rolex press releases. Only people who follow Rolex closely would pick up on this. If you don’t own a Rolex, or need to convince a significant other whether to own a Rolex, this book is a great tool for getting a Rolex in your house.
– Sheldon Smith