What’s in a name? Brand names are always fascinating, and it’s so interesting to see how some unusual names just really work for the brand. Who would have thought that Apple would become synonymous with computers, and Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory, would ultimately represent sports? Who would have thought that a Moby Dick character would inspire the creation of Starbucks?
Have you ever wondered how luxury watch brands got their names? What is their inspiration and story? While some are relatively straight-forward, others are truly fascinating!
People always ask what does Rolex mean? Is it a person’s last name? Is it an acronym? Does it mean something in another language?
The answer is equal parts surprising and genius. According to the brand's official website, founder Hans Wilsdorf wanted his brand of watches to have a short name that could be said the same way in any language. After trying combinations of all the letters in the alphabet in every possible way, Wilsdorf finally came up with 5 letters that spelled ROLEX. How exactly did this happen? According to Hans himself he recalled that, “One morning, while riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus along Cheapside in the City of London, a genie whispered ‘Rolex’ in my ear.”
That must have been some omniscient genie because the name stuck and is still immediately recognized and respected today. And, as was Wilsdorf’s goal, whether you speak French, German, or Japanese, the name Rolex will be pronounced exactly the same. Rolex, being 5 letters long, also has a great balance to it with the center L as an anchor, and the size fits perfectly on a watch dial. This attention to detail was just the first instance of the thousands of brilliant design choices by the brand that would follow.
Some people think that Rolex stands stands for “hoROLogical EXcellence” but that seems more like fun wordplay rather than the real reason, and it has never been confirmed by Wilsdorf himself. Another genius of the name Rolex is that it doesn’t immediately give away its roots. Rolex was started in the United Kingdom and then moved to Switzerland, but the name bears no resemblance or loyalty to either location.
The story here, unlike the pronunciation, is a simple one. Two guys, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet in the Vallée de Joux (town in the Jura Mountain area north of Geneva, Switzerland) founded the company in 1875. Later, they acquired the name Audemars Piguet & Cie in 1881. The company has been family-owned ever since.
Often referred to as the baby brother of Rolex, Tudor is another watch brand with an interesting and lesser-known name history. Many people think it was Hans Wilsdorf who created the name Tudor, but in fact, it was not. It was created by a woman, who was the wife of deceased watchmaker Philippe Hüther, under the company name of “Veuve de Philippe Hüther” which translates to “widow of Philippe Hüther.” She took over the business after her husband passed away, and she is the one who trademarked the name Tudor. Hans Wilsdorf later acquired exclusive rights to the name. It was Hans however, that added the famed Tudor Rose inside a shield to the logo (the traditional floral symbol of England derived from the emblem of the Royal House of Tudor) to add a little flair. Speaking of flair, you can find custom straps and accessories for your Tudor here.
The name “Panerai” comes from the last name of the Italian watch-maker Giovanni Panerai. In 1860 he opened a small watchmaker’s shop in Florence, Italy that offered watch services. The store was also set up to work as a watchmaking school, one of the first in Italy. Later in the 1900s, Panerai started making watches for the Royal Italian Navy (Regia Marina), and his grandson Guido Panerai expanded the watch shop to become an official supplier to the Navy. It wasn’t until 1953, with the war over, that Panerai’s contract with the Italian Navy ended, and the brand made its watches available to the public in Italy for the first time. In the 1970s Giovanni passed away, but his predecessor Dino Zei changed the name to Officine Panerai S.r.L. The watches weren’t very popular until 1997 when the brand was taken over by the Swiss Richemont Group, and now, they are now Swiss made, worn by many famous people, and highly recognized all around the world. Check out our Panerai strap line.
Seiko was founded in 1881 by Kintarō Hattori. The young, 21-year old man opened a jewelry shop called “K. Hattori” in Tokyo, Japan. So where does the name Seiko come from? Almost a decade later he started to produce his own clocks under the name “Seikosha” which is a Japanese word that translates roughly to “House of Exquisite Workmanship” in English.
An interesting fact is that in 1923 there was an earthquake in Japan that destroyed the entire Seikosha factory. Hattori however, was determined to quickly rebuild, despite the massive costs, and only one year later, in 1924, he introduced the very first watch with the name “Seiko” on the dial. Unlike Rolex, which doesn’t reveal its origins, the name Seiko strongly pays homage to Japan.
The name Hublot was created by an Italian man named Carlo Crocco, comes from the French word for “porthole,” and was the inspiration for the case shape. Although there was some controversy surrounding him and his brand, he can be credited as one of the first watch-makers to pair precious metal watches with rubber straps.
Much like the creators of Rolex, the visionaries behind MONTA watches pay similar attention to aesthetics and attention to detail. The name MONTA is a brand name with 5 letters, a balanced composition with the N as the center anchor, and a small enough name to fit nicely on the dial. According to the brand, the name is also derived from the French word for mountains (les montagnes), and the French word for watches (montres). Although inspired by the French language, the name MONTA can likely be pronounced the same in every language, just like the goal of the name Rolex. Of course the French is also homage to the spoken language of the country in which MONTA watches are produced, Switzerland.
While not a watch brand, the brand name of Everest Horology was also carefully thought up. On one hand we chose Everest as a way to pay homage to the brave explorers who climbed Mt. Everest wearing Rolex watches. We also felt Mt. Everest represents the highest point, and climbing it is the highest achievement. We strive to create the absolute highest quality after-market luxury watch straps, as well as high-end watch accessories. Mountains are also synonymous with Switzerland, which is of course where all Everest Bands are produced, making them incredibly high quality and precision fit.
Which of these brand name histories surprised you the most? Is there anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!