A Peek Behind the Rolex Crown: The Greatest Logo of All Time

When Rolex founders Wilsdorf and Davis came up with the crown somewhere in the early 1920s, officially trademarking it in 1925, they never gave much information about how and why they arrived at this particular design. This perhaps is for the best – clever origin stories are almost always apocryphal. A century later, virtually unchanged, that five-pointed crown remains the ultimate case study in logo design.

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Can’t Fake Harmony

First off, its shape radiates harmony and balance. It’s both classic and modern; ornate and clean; curvaceous and angular. It looks good blown up on a billboard, yet reads perfectly when only millimeters wide on the face of a timepiece. Incidentally, the logo is one of the hardest parts of the Rolex to fake.

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The Power of Five

The five points of the crown don’t officially symbolize anything, and thus effortlessly symbolize everything – everything associated with the number five anyway. Most commonly, people speculate that it represents the five fingers on the hand, as well as the five letters in Rolex. But why stop there? Five symbolizes the human being (four limbs and a head). There are five senses. Shiva has five faces. There are five pillars of Islam. The Torah contains five books; Jesus Christ died from five wounds; and the perfect fifth is the most consonant harmony in music. In short, five is your go-to symbol for strength, love and balance.

“A crown for every occasion”

So the slogan goes and what is a crown but a universal and ancient symbol of power, legitimacy, victory, and honor. A seemingly perfect emblem for the brand; however, it’s a little more nuanced than that. You see, the crown is not technically a crown, but a coronet, which is a smaller version of a crown characterized by ornaments fixed on a metal ring. Technically, a proper “crown” is worn by an emperor, empress, king or queen; while a coronet is worn by a nobleman or lady. 

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It’s a small technicality, but it speaks to the founders’ English heritage and their deference to both their sovereign and their own image. They are “a crown” not “the crown” befitting a more sophisticated, more elegant, more confident station in the world. 

Dina BaldwinComment