Rolex cel­e­brates six decades of part­ner­ship with eques­trian ex­cel­lence as it con­tin­ues to drive sup­port for top rid­ers and ris­ing new­com­ers in the field.

The Peak (Hong Kong) - - Contents -

Rolex cel­e­brates six decades of part­ner­ship with eques­trian ex­cel­lence

Dy­namic, grace­ful and pre­cise – the Olympic dis­ci­plines of showjumping, dres­sage and event­ing con­jure many of the qual­i­ties that we as­so­ciate with horol­ogy. Rolex’s long his­tory of sup­port­ing ath­letic life­styles dates back to 1927, when the com­pany’s founder Hans Wils­dorf in­vited swim­mer Mercedes Gleitze to don a Rolex Oys­ter dur­ing her at­tempt to be­come the first Bri­tish woman to swim across the English Channel.

Af­ter suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing the 10-hour cross­ing, Gleitze ef­fec­tively be­came the first Rolex Tes­ti­monee, kick­ing off the watch­maker’s life­long le­gacy of keen in­volve­ment in sports and sup­port for ath­letes across nu­mer­ous dis­ci­plines.

Rolex ap­pointed its first eques­trian Tes­ti­monee in 1957, when Bri­tish showjumper Pat Smythe joined the il­lus­tri­ous ranks of Rolex-en­dorsed ath­letes. The ath­lete wore a Rolex Oys­ter Per­pet­ual while jump­ing, ski­ing and sail­ing and spoke of her fond­ness for the world’s first wa­ter­proof wrist­watch.

Six decades on, Rolex’s part­ner­ship with the elite world of eques­tri­an­ism is stronger than ever.


The Swiss watch­maker has taken an active role in cre­at­ing one of the most cov­eted ti­tles in the sport: the Rolex Grand Slam of showjumping. Cre­ated jointly in 2013 by three ma­jor tour­na­ments: CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Mead­ows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva, the Grand Slam is awarded to a rider who wins the Grand Prix at each of the shows back-to-back.

So far the ac­co­lade has been col­lected only once: by Rolex Tes­ti­monee and Olympic gold medal­list Scott Brash, in 2015.

Along­side Brash, Rolex also sup­ports sev­eral other top rid­ers, in­clud­ing Brazil­ian Olympic gold medal­list Ro­drigo Pes­soa, who has been a Rolex Tes­ti­monee since 1998 – the year he won the World Eques­trian Games in Rome and be­came world cham­pion. Pes­soa has since gone on to com­pete and take home ti­tles at var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional events.

Pes­soa cred­its the watch­maker for cat­a­pult­ing the sport to new heights, and for sup­port­ing rid­ers to pur­sue per­fec­tion in their re­spec­tive cat­e­gories.

“The sup­port of big brands like Rolex shows that they’re re­ally com­mit­ted to eques­trian sport and to rais­ing the level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism,” he says. “The progress in the last cou­ple of years has been tremen­dous, and this could not be pos­si­ble with­out brands like Rolex el­e­vat­ing the bar.”


Fe­male eques­tri­ans around the world are busy lift­ing that very bar. Two of the most fa­mil­iar names in the sport, Zara Tin­dall and Mered­ith Michaels-beer­baum, have part­nered with Rolex as they con­tinue to achieve record-break­ing suc­cess.

Tin­dall’s win at the 2006 World Eques­trian Games in Aachen fol­lowed her en­try into the Rolex Tes­ti­monee fam­ily. The tal­ented rider fol­lowed that by grab­bing a sil­ver medal at the 2012 Olympic games in Lon­don. Tin­dall, the daugh­ter of the UK’S Princess Anne, be­lieves be­ing a part of the Rolex fam­ily has al­lowed her to grow along­side ath­letes of ex­cep­tional cal­i­bre. “To be­come in­volved with Rolex pro­fes­sion­ally, to­gether with all the other ac­com­plished peo­ple Rolex sup­port, is such an hon­our,” she says.

American-born Ger­man rider Michaels-beer­baum, who is a three-time World Cup Fi­nal win­ner, agrees that to be as­so­ci­ated with Rolex is a re­mark­able op­por­tu­nity to gain ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­po­sure.

“To be as­so­ci­ated with the world-fa­mous brand that is Rolex, and all other great ath­letes sup­ported by Rolex around the world, is an un­be­liev­able hon­our,” she says.

In 2014, Rolex founded The Young Rid­ers Academy, putting in place a struc­tured coach­ing sys­tem for promis­ing young showjumpers that pre­vi­ously hadn’t ex­isted. The pro­gramme has al­ready gone on to ben­e­fit one ris­ing star: 21-year-old Ber­tram Allen from Ire­land, who be­came the youngest Rolex Tes­ti­monee when he joined the com­mu­nity at the age of 18. To­day, Allen is re­garded one of the most promis­ing ath­letes in the sport, thanks in no small part to a boost from the academy that al­lowed him to par­tic­i­pate at top in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.

Cel­e­brat­ing six decades of sup­port for the eques­trian world, Rolex con­tin­ues to seek out new tal­ents to nur­ture and bold achieve­ments to pro­mote – a fit­ting tribute to the al­tru­is­tic, in­trepid and head­strong spirit of Mr Hans Wils­dorf him­self.

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