Rolex acquired the title of being one of the most renowned luxury timepiece manufacturers worldwide. However, it’s also notoriously secretive about its operations.
The watch brand is an iconic Swiss watchmaker, and the people who produce these timepieces are considered artists. These watchmakers blend design and science to create masterpieces of art.
If you’re curious where exactly they make Rolex watches or whether all its parts are truly produced in Switzerland, keep on reading. We provide a detailed answer below to help you fully appreciate the brand and the timepieces they constructed. Let’s get started!
Where are Rolex Watches Made?
All Rolex watches are made in Switzerland. The history of Swiss watchmaking and the Rolex brand are inseparably linked. In its history, it is at the origin of big watchmaking innovations in the country and has registered more than 500 patents.
After World War, Rolex moved its operations from London to Geneva, Switzerland. From being registered as Montres Rolex SA in 1920, it became Rolex SA. During that time, they produced about one million watches per year. Hence, the birth of its factories.
So, where exactly in Switzerland do they manufacture their pieces of art? They’re divided into four Rolex headquarters.
The Four Rolex Manufacture Locations
1. Plan-Les-Ouates – Where Rolex Cases and Bracelets are Made
Rolex cases and bracelets are made in Plan-Les-Ouates, a municipality in Switzerland. This place has one of the largest industrial areas in the canton of Geneva. And since this HQ is more of an industrial factory, it is the largest of all four Rolex facilities.
Comprising six different wings that are 65 meters long, the entire building is 11 stories high. It may not look like the outside, but the six stories are underground. Perhaps, Rolex’s reason was to keep competitors away and ensure maximum production discretion.
This central laboratory focuses on the less delicate parts of Rolex. You’ll also find in this factory the iconic gold foundry. Almost everything about the headquarters is futuristic. It even has robotic inventory machines.
Moreover, this factory is entrusted with planning, designing, assembling, and manufacturing all exterior components of a Rolex.
Gabriele Guscetti of Ingeni SA, engineer and project manager of this building and Acacias, shares that Rolex devotes most attention to what it creates. Each building component counts the sum of its parts as much as the entire construction. It’s like how Rolex values the individual parts of their watches as much as the final piece.
The architectural achievement of the Rolex building is a clear reflection of the brand’s approach to its watches, Guscetti added.
2. Bienne – Home of Rolex Movements
The Bienne factory is the production facility for Rolex movements. There are more than 2,000 people employed here, engaging in the assembly and manufacture of Rolex components.
They employ that many people because the components are often of complex geometry and are tiny. The precision of a few microns produce these parts. Such focus and rigorous work allow 100% of the movements to meet the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute’s (COSC) criteria for accuracy.
The regulating and assembly of the movements are carried out by hand by highly skilled watchmakers and operators. However, this does not mean that all parts of Rolex are produced by hand. Rolex produces watches using state-of-the-art machinery for some of its components too.
Related: Rolex 14060 Vs. 14060M
3. Chêne-Bourg – Houses the Development of Rolex Dials and Gem-Setting Activities
Rolex makes dials in Chêne Bourg. It also does gem-setting activities on this site. Like the Plan-Les-Ouates, this Rolex factory comprises ten stories, but five are underground.
There are around 800 people employed in this plant, and these dial makers combine high technology and command of traditional know-how to produce one of the best-looking Swiss-made timepieces. On average, a Rolex dial has 60 different operations done on it from start to finish.
4. Les Acacias – The Final Assembly Plant of All Rolex Watches
This factory is the most well-known and iconic among all factories because it’s where all the senior executives of the Rolex watch company are.
Situated across the Arve River from Switzerland, the Les Acacias site is used by the Research and Development (R&D), sales, design, management, and customer service teams. It is also where all Rolex models, including the famous Rolex Submariner, are assembled for final assembly and quality control.
The factory has an excellent standard for producing quality Rolex watches. They check, re-check, and recheck watches. So much so that if a Rolex watch fails, it happens before leaving the factory. Large teams of assembly people and watchmakers work on every timepiece movement.
How Long Does It Take to Make a Rolex Watch
Some people believe it takes a year to make a Rolex watch, but it’s misleading. Perhaps people misinterpreted it because Rolex did say on its website that it can take a year to finish a movement.
While it’s true that it can take a year to engineer a new movement, not when assembling one, a Rolex is an accurate timepiece and making its movement requires skilled watchmakers. In short, the work is manual labor and takes longer to assemble compared to any other watch brand. Rolex has to undergo the movements to its accuracy testing protocol.
So, reasonably, assembling a Rolex movement takes only a few hours. Since they’re not creating it from scratch, the general time estimation is only around 3 hours and 40 minutes. This is when all the parts are already completed.
However, considering the movement’s development, it takes a whole year to make one Rolex. Let’s also consider the materials used in Rolex watches. The most expensive Rolex watches are made from 904L, different grade steel than the 316L of most stainless steel watches.
The 904L is more corrosion- and rust-resistant; you’ll know it when you handle a stainless steel Rolex watch. It’s harder than other steels and can hold polish exceptionally well.
Then, consider the time it takes to test dive watches in pressurized tanks individually. For example, an air-pressure tank thoroughly tests the Rolex Oyster case watches. Rolex movement should retain its timekeeping accuracy to pass this test.
Now, check the most sought-after Rolex timepieces, whether new or pre-owned.
Related: Why Are Rolex Watches So Expensive?
The Most Popular Rolex Watches Ever Made
- Rolex Submariner
- Rolex Air-King
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual
- Rolex Daytona
- Rolex Sea-Dweller
- Rolex Ladies Datejust 31
- Rolex Milgauss
- Rolex Yacht-Master II
- Rolex GMT-Master
- Rolex Datejust 41
- Rolex Yacht-Master
- Rolex Explorer
Rolex isn’t like any other brand. It is respected, valued, admired, and famous across the globe. They don’t just make any watches in four factories, but they make symbols of class, status, and luxury.
Those Rolex factories are as amazing as they are diverse. They are all impressive in their ways, and wearing one of the timepieces they produce gives you that absolute sense of reliability, dignity, and confidence the brand communicates. It’s no surprise that their watch demand is greater than other classic watches.
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My name is Eve Acosta and I’m the person behind this site. Watches are what get me ticking ;).
No, but seriously, I just love watches, I have over 30 myself. It’s an obsession of mine, which is why my husband recommended me to put my hobby into some good use and build this site – so I did.
My passion for timepieces came from the fact that my parents own a small chain of shops selling timepieces. I’ve worked at the shop since I was 11 and fell in love with the merchandise.