We delve through the Rolex archives to uncover the luxury watchmaker's enduring relationship with the world of equestrianism
Rolex began its long-standing relationship with the elite world of equestrianism in 1957, when legendary show-jumper Pat Smythe was announced as the brand’s first Equestrian Testimonee. The pioneering athlete wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual timepiece, credited as the world’s first waterproof wristwatch and lauded for its innovation, durability and elegance.
The Swiss watchmaker was committed to creating timepieces for athletes that were as robust as they were luxurious and quickly became associated with equestrianism and its standout riders.
The brand is now considered an elegant hallmark of horse riding across the world, spanning six decades of sponsorship and edorsement. Like Rolex, equestrianism is defined by control, grace and a daring spirit of adventure.
Rolex supports the world’s finest riders, competitions and landmark events including three of the greatest equestrian shows: the World Equestrian Festival, CHIO Aachen; the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Canada; and CHI Geneva. Together, they created the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping in 2013, a global initiative that rewards the rider who wins the Grand Prix at each of the three shows in succession, considered the ultimate show-jumping test. Rolex also launched the The Young Riders Academy, created in 2014, dedicated to young, talented show-jumpers.
Scotland’s Scott Brash is the only rider in history thus far to be awarded the Rolex Grand Slam, won in 2015. Alongside Brash, Rolex also endorses riders including American-born German rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa, the longest-standing Rolex Testimonee. “The support of big brands, like Rolex, shows that they’re really committed to equestrian sport and to raising the level of professionalism," said Pessoa. "The progress in the last couple of years has been tremendous and this could not be possible without these brands elevating the bar.”
Olympic medallist Zara Tindall has been a Rolex Testimonee since 2006, when she won a gold medal at CHIO Aachen. “We confirmed our partnership after I won that event and my first Rolex. It was incredible and almost better than the winner’s medal. It’s a beautiful, classic and timeless piece that I will always treasure, engraved with the words, World Champion.”
Like Rolex, equestrianism is defined by control, grace and a daring spirit of adventure
Today, the instantly recognisable Rolex Oyster Perpetual remains a timeless icon for men and women, steeped in the history of great athletes whilst remaining at the forefront of haute horology. For now, we are gearing up for the first Major of the year and first leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping at the CHIO Aachen in Germany, taking place 14-23 July 2017.