Successful companies know their brand story. It’s a history lesson of sorts and companies are eager to share. Compelling brand stories tell the world about the origins of their business, how they overcame obstacles and survived through thick and thin to go on to create and market successful products. To name just a few, brands like Pan Am, Apple, Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Lloyd’s and Jaguar have long, proud histories to share. Advertising, publicity, marketing, and brand development go hand in hand. There are always new avenues in media to explore. Co-branding is one of those avenues. Over the years Rolex has embraced co-branding and has used its dials as the perfect platform to promote special business relationships along with the well respected and world-famous Rolex name.
ROLEX AND TIFFANY & CO.
During the 1950s, two highly renowned names in luxury goods paired up to offer co-branded merchandise to their discerning clientele. These two companies were Rolex and Tiffany & Co. and the relationship lasted around three decades. Rolex watches that were retailed at Tiffany & Co. stores would often bear the jeweler’s logo on the face of the watch and today these pieces are highly coveted by watch collectors and vintage aficionados for their exclusivity and a little piece of history.
THE ROLEX COMEX SEA-DWELLER MODELS
Companies Maritime d’Expertises, COMEX, is the French commercial diving company that commissioned Rolex to create dive watches. COMEX needed watches that could plunge to extreme depths, handle pressurized chambers, and survive ensuing decompression periods. In short, Comex was looking for a tool-watch their divers could depend on. While this collaboration between COMEX and Rolex eventually gave birth to the Sea-Dweller collection for the public, there were special COMEX editions that were reserved for the companies’ employees only. The watches the COMEX divers wore were an integral part of their gear. It’s important to stress that divers did not have all the computers and technology we have today, so they were dependent on the functionality and reliability of their dive watches. COMEX Sea-Dwellers have both the reference and serials numbers engraved on the interior of the case back. COMEX employed numbers to keep track of which employees had which watches. COMEX issue numbers are prominently engraved on the outside of the case back encircled by other, more typical Sea-Dweller engravings.
SERPICO Y LAINO
The co-branded Rolex with the Serpico Y Laino logo is sought after by collectors the world over. Serpico and Laino were Italian nationals who found each other in Caracas, Venezuela before World War Two. They became partners in the watch business and later the sole Rolex dealer in Venezuela. At the time Rolex had customers in Caracas but no brand representation. Serpico Y Laino went on to Rolex greatness and their name is legendary today. As the decades progressed, the partners both passed away and eventually the S y L shop closed in the early ‘60s. Today, the Serpico and Laino name lives on in Caracas, Venezuela as a part of the worldwide network of Official Rolex Distributors.
ROLEX AND CARTIER
Photo Courtsey of Hodinkee
For a short time, Rolex watches were available at Cartier on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Some of the watches sold at Cartier featured a "Cartier" stamp right on the dial, a trait we see much more commonly with those Rolex pieces retailed via Tiffany's in NYC. A Tiffany & Co. stamp is rare and will certainly add to the value of a vintage Rolex, but a Cartier stamp is a total game-changer. You simply don't see them. Cartier-dial Rolexes are often imitated because of the immense value associated with them, so to find one with Cartier archival papers confirming authenticity is a premium that any serious collector is willing to pay for.
The Coca-Cola brand and logo are recognizable around the world. Today the brand is going strong and demand for Coca-cola branded items never slows down. Rolex made a Coca-Cola dial watch. These watches were never sold to the general public. They were made for certain employees. The real ones are quite valuable. Especially the Coke watch, it is unmistakable! N.B. There are more replicas than the real Rolex issues in circulation.
ROLEX AND DOMINO’S PIZZA
As the story goes, Domino’s Pizza rewarded managers who had the best results period with a Rolex Air-King. The DP logo was displayed prominently on the dial. This ‘Rolex Challenge’ took place between the 1970s and 1990s. Several versions of the DP Air-Kings have been issued over the years. Later in the program, the DP logo was on the bracelet of the watch, at the ’6′ hour position. What makes the whole case even more interesting is the fact that Rolex even produced the dials with the DP logo.
LIST OF CO-BRANDED RETAILER DIALS
After doing some research I pulled together a comprehensive list of retailers that have once co-branded Rolex watches. See below
Alex Clark London (England)
Ashford & Davis Kilburn (England)
Beyer Zürich (Switzerland)
Boix Barcelona (Spain)
Boodle & Dunthorne Liverpool (England)
Chas. Greig & Sons Johannesburg (South Africa)
Cooke & Kelvey Calcutta (India)
Cuervo y Sobrinos (Cuba)
Dobbies Ltd. Nairobi (Kenya)
Edward White London (England)
Erbe Basel (Switzerland)
Fortnum & Mason London (England)
Franklin & Hare Taunton (England)
Giudici Milano (Italy)
H.G. Bell Salisbury (Rhodesia/Zimbabwe)
H.L. Brown & Son Ltd. (England)
Hamilton & Inches Edinburgh (Scotland)
J. Stern Johannesburg (South Africa)
James Walker (England)
Joyeria Riviera (Cuba)
Mackay & Chisholm Edinburgh (Scotland)
P. Orr & Sons Ltd. Madras & Rangoon (India)
Penlington Liverpool (England)
Philippe Beguin Geneve (Switzerland)
Ronchi Milano (Italy)
Van Cleef & Arpels (France)
Versace Reggio Calabria (Italy)
Not content with a watch that only tells time? Special watches are out there. If you are asking yourself how do I choose a watch like this? What should I pay? Is there value behind the brand and price? You owe it to yourself to look closer into the Watchnerd.com buyer decision making guides. Watchnerd.com shows you your options as a buyer. Our guides are indispensable while trying to decide which brand and model is right for you. Watchnerd.com is ready to help. Our passion is timeless.
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