Rolex & eques­tri­an­ism - cel­e­brat­ing 60 years of an en­dur­ing part­ner­ship of ex­cel­lence

The Luxury Collection - - Contents -

Rolex’s affin­ity for sports and human achieve­ment can be traced back to the pi­o­neer­ing ori­gins of the com­pany. Early in the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, when wrist­watches were re­garded as frag­ile items of ap­parel, Rolex’s founder Hans Wils­dorf was de­ter­mined to cre­ate a time­piece that would be ro­bust, pre­cise and re­li­able, adapt­ing to ever more ac­tive life­styles. In 1927, he equipped a young swim­mer, Mercedes Gleitze, with the newly de­vel­oped Rolex Oys­ter, the world’s first wa­ter­proof wrist­watch, to swim the English Chan­nel. At the end of the swim, af­ter more than 10 hours in the water, the watch emerged in per­fect work­ing or­der. Mercedes Gleitze was thus ef­fec­tively the first Rolex Tes­ti­monee, a wit­ness to the un­com­pro­mis­ing per­for­mance of the Oys­ter, who also demon­strated its real-life qual­i­ties.

Since then, Rolex has ac­com­pa­nied many of hu­man­ity’s great­est feats as men and women have bro­ken long-stand­ing records, de­fy­ing the el­e­ments and ex­plor­ing the globe’s most for­bid­ding fron­tiers – from the tallest peaks to the deep­est oceans. 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 only a mat­ter of time be­fore Rolex be­gan part­ner­ing with the el­e­gant sport of eques­tri­an­ism, with which it shares many val­ues and at­tributes. The Olympic dis­ci­plines of Show Jump­ing, Dres­sage and Event­ing are phys­i­cally ex­act­ing, re­quir­ing ac­cu­racy, grace and strength - qual­i­ties that are mir­rored in the cre­ation of a Rolex wrist­watch. In 1957, the brand for­mally be­gan a part­ner­ship with the sport. And Pat Smythe, the all time great equestrian ath­lete, be­come the sport’s first Rolex Tes­ti­monee.


Zara Tin­dall MBE, scioness of the Bri­tish royal fam­ily and one of the coun­try’s top equestrian ath­letes, be­came a Rolex Tes­ti­monee in 2006. In the equestrian sport of Event­ing, Zara has fol­lowed in the foot­steps of her ac­com­plished par­ents, Cap­tain Mark Phillips and HRH Princess Anne. In 2006, she won In­di­vid­ual gold and Team sil­ver at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen and was voted BBC TV Sports Per­son­al­ity of the Year - an award her mother won in 1971.

Zara reached the pin­na­cle of her sport by win­ning an Olympic sil­ver medal at the Lon­don 2012 Olympic Games on her horse, High King­dom. Her ca­reer con­tin­ued to as­cend great heights in 2014 when she re­peated this suc­cess help­ing Team GB se­cure a sil­ver medal at the World Equestrian Games in Nor­mandy.

Zara draws in­spi­ra­tion from Rolex’s first equestrian tes­ti­monee and one of the great­est fe­male showjumpers to ever rep­re­sent Great Bri­tain – Pat Smythe, who be­came a house­hold name in the late 1940’s for her in­ter­na­tional equestrian ac­com­plish­ments as well as for ex­pand­ing the gen­der bound­aries for her mostcher­ished sport.


In these past sixty years, Rolex has brought on board sev­eral top ranked equestrian ath­letes as Testimonees.

Presently, Brazil­ian show jumper Ro­drigo Pes­soa is its long­est serv­ing equestrian Tes­ti­monee hav­ing joined the brand in 1998, the same year he won the World Equestrian Games in Rome to be­come World Cham­pion. Ro­drigo is an Olympic gold-medal­list in

In­di­vid­ual jump­ing with 70 Grand Prix wins to his name.

Scott Brash, from Scot­land, who has won eques­tri­an­ism’s great­est, most chal­leng­ing ac­co­lade: the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jump­ing is an­other well known Rolex Tes­ti­monee from the Bri­tish Isles.

Meredith Michaels-beer­baum, the first woman ever to be ranked world num­ber one in show jump­ing and join the Ger­man na­tional team, be­came a Rolex Tes­ti­monee in 2007. In the fol­low­ing years, she be­came one of the world’s most suc­cess­ful equestrian ath­letes.


To nur­ture and fos­ter new ta­lent, Rolex sup­ported the es­tab­lish­ment of The Young Riders Academy in 2014. Prior to this there was no suit­ably struc­tured coach­ing sys­tem in show jump­ing, un­like other Olympic sports. The Young Riders Academy quickly be­came the most pres­ti­gious train­ing course avail­able, with an im­pres­sive education pro­gramme as part of the con­tent. The

Academy has al­ready proven its suc­cess with 21-year-old Ir­ish showjumper Ber­tram Allen, who be­came Rolex’s youngest ad­di­tion to their spon­sor­ship fam­ily.


Over the last 60 years Rolex has been the pioneer in the global equestrian world, sup­port­ing events such as the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jump­ing, to test the world’s best horse and rider com­bi­na­tions to reach new heights within the sport­ing arena. Sim­i­larly, over the last cen­tury, since the com­pany was founded, Rolex has con­tin­ued to adapt and in­no­vate its iconic time­pieces.

Rolex has cul­ti­vated an en­dur­ing legacy with the equestrian world and is now a ma­jor force at play be­hind the finest riders, com­pe­ti­tions and in­sti­tu­tions. Look­ing ahead, this part­ner­ship will con­tinue to strengthen and deepen, build­ing on the equestrian event cal­en­dar and em­brac­ing new mem­bers to its Tes­ti­monee fam­ily, so con­tin­u­ing to ce­ment its name in the his­tory of this great sport.

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