The relationship between Rolex and explorers goes way back. The former provides its watches for the latter’s extraordinary journeys, and the latter return the favour by road testing the performance of its timepieces so it can develop even better ones.
The first expedition to bring the Swiss watch brand and the National Geographic Society together was the scaling of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, which was reported in National Geographic magazine.
A 1953 Rolex ad celebrating the performance of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches during the British Everest expedition. Photo: Rolex
Since then, it has been one of Rolex’s most enduring alliances. Their latest collaboration, a five-year one called Perpetual Planet Extreme Expeditions (a nod to Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual watches which have served as reliable instruments on so many explorations), has a new mission: to stand behind scientists, explorers and visionaries who are finding solutions to protect our oceans, studying the effects of climate change, and creating a more sustainable world.
Perpetual Planet Extreme Expeditions is one of three initiatives under Rolex’s Perpetual Planet umbrella. The other two are American marine biologist Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue to protect the oceans, and the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, which supports outstanding individuals who protect the environment.
Before corporate social responsibility was a thing, the Rolex Awards for Enterprise were launched in 1976. The initiative has since supported 140 people who have helped to improve lives and protect the environment. Photo: Rolex
The first of the Perpetual Planet Extreme Expeditions (two more are in the works) was to Mount Everest earlier this year to understand the impact of climate change on the Hindu Kush Himalayas, a mountain range that is a critical source of water for one billion people who live downstream. Information and data collected on the water supply and demand in the region will help monitor the health of the water system and inform decisions to protect it.
This article was first published in Her World's September issue.