2019 marks the golden anniversary of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s record-breaking non-stop, single-handed voyage around the world. This came just a year after British hero, Sir Francis Chichester, recorded a record time for a solo circumnavigation around the world. Like Chichester, Knox-Johnston relied on a Rolex timepiece as a navigational aid. As did a third sailor, Frenchman Bernard Moitessier, one of Knox-Johnston’s rivals in the famous 1969 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.
Varuna, Sail No: GER 7111, Class: IRC Zero, Owner: Jens Kellinghusen, Type: Ker 56
It is a relationship born of a natural affinity with a sport that exhibits time-honored values and a dynamic spirit. Six decades into its partnership with yachting, Rolex is a committed supporter of some of the world’s most prestigious yacht clubs, races, and regattas. Rolex can trace its connection with the sea back to the company’s origins in the early 1900s when founder Hans Wilsdorf envisaged a pioneering watch that would be robust, precise and reliable. The strength of this association would be cemented by the feats of three extraordinary individuals, which helped confirm Wilsdorf’s perceptive understanding that increasingly active lifestyles demanded a wristwatch chronometer that was accurate, self-winding and, significantly, waterproof.
Rolex, montre historique “Francis Chichester”.
Given this background, it is perhaps only natural that Rolex would seek to partner yacht clubs and events that foster the endeavor and skills exhibited by the sport’s pioneers. Rolex stepped offshore to secure relationships with the world’s top 600-nm races and the organizations behind them. Stringent examinations of sailing skill and
human endeavor, these classic contests, and their organizing clubs have, like Rolex, been defined by a spirit of adventure. The most famous is the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, run by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), and the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, launched by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA). Widely regarded as northern and southern hemisphere equivalents, and both supported by Rolex since the beginning of the 2000s, they are on every offshore sailor’s wishlist.