Goldsmiths celebrate 100 years of Rolex
In the year 1919, Northern Goldsmiths became the first UK stockist of luxury watch brand Rolex
The celebrations to commemorate the centenary of the partnership between the Watches of Switzerland Group and Rolex recently kicked off in none other than the city of Newcastle.
Founded in London in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf, the Rolex Watch Company then moved across to a city internationally-renowned for watchmaking; Geneva. But closer to home, the North East played a crucial role in their story. ‘Archived advertisements show Northern Goldsmiths was the only place to buy Rolex in 1919,’ explains Craig Bolton, Executive Director of Northern Goldsmiths and Mappin and Webb (and proud Geordie). This made Northern Goldsmiths the first store to sell a Rolex watch, as selected by Hans Wilsdorf himself, and the iconic store still stands in pride of place on the corner of Blackett Street today.
‘When you think about the power of London and other major cities – that’s the bit we’re most proud of,’ Craig explains. ‘The only bit we’ve been unable to fully ascertain is the month the first watch was sold, so we’ve chosen the whole year to celebrate.’ The celebrations began with an exclusive event at Baltic, which revealed the history of Rolex in Newcastle, and the Watches of Switzerland Group has plans to continue these celebrations to help make a change in the North East.
The release of a centenary watch, of which there are only 100 available, is just one of the ways they hope to raise money to fund a newly-appointed partnership with The Princes Trust. The partnership plans to inspire young people on The Trust’s educational programmes to live, learn and earn – with particular emphasis on the North East’s young people. ‘Mappin and Webb, another division of Watches of Switzerland, have worked with The Princes Trust for many years, but as we have become more sizeable, we discussed having one charity for the whole group,’ explains Craig. ‘It fits perfectly with our aim of helping young people.’ During the evening at Baltic, the impact of the Princes Trust on the lives of young people in the North East was made clear, through an inspirational talk by one of the charity’s Young Ambassadors.
With only 100 timepieces available, each model features a rolesor bracelet in steel and yellow gold, a fluted gold bezel and a diamond-dot dial. Choose from 36mm or 41mm and two different engravings on the case back; an illustration of the Northern Goldsmiths store in Newcastle or The Watches of Switzerland Group logo – and a unique numbered certificate signed by the CEo, Brian Duffy.
The celebratory centenary limited edition watch is available in all Goldsmiths stores and is priced at £11,200 (36mm) and £12,350 (41mm) with £3,000 from the proceeds of each piece to be donated to The Prince’s Trust.
intu Eldon Square, Newcastle
intu Metrocentre, Gateshead
Northern Goldsmiths, Blackett Street