Kennedy have opened a luxurious new flagship boutique at Chadstone – The Fashion Capital, including adjoining in-store Rolex and Panerai boutiques. Naturally, the opening was cause for celebration, and Kennedy definitely knows how to celebrate in style. More to the point, Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona exhibition was co-hosted by Kennedy and Rolex in Australia for the first time. Suffice to say, it was a good day at Chadstone for watch lovers.
Inspired by race car driving, and bolstered by premium design and mechanics alike, the Daytona remains one of Rolex’s most iconic timepieces. It’s therefore no surprise that the model was actor (and race car driver) Paul Newman’s personal favourite. In fact, it’s reported that Newman wore his every single day for over thirty-five years. Then in 2017, the “Paul Newman” Daytona fetched over $17 million at auction. Naturally, that particular watch wasn’t included in the exhibition, but others of its calibre certainly were.
In attendance at the exhibition was Kennedy Managing Director Martin Rainer, along with Expert Chief Rolex Watchmaker Ken Buckley. After answering questions, they offered an exclusive first viewing of the new Kennedy Boutique. As one might imagine, the boutique offers no shortage of incredible horology, along with some truly elegant ambiance. Likewise, the Rolex Daytona is always a genuine sight to behold, representing a legendary brand at the top of its game.
As we delve into the history of this planet’s best-known Swiss watchmaking company, some fairly curious facts surface: Rolex wasn’t originally a Swiss company, its founder wasn’t a watchmaker by profession, or for that matter Swiss, and the company isn’t by any stretch of the imagination an older watch company.Hans Wilhelm Wilsdorf (1881-1960) was born in Bavaria to parents that had both died by the time he was 12. His aptitude for English gave him a fantastic head-start in school, and one of his early jobs involved composing trade letters from a pocket watch export business in La Chaux-de-Fonds to customers in the US and England.Wilsdorf then moved to London, the capital of world commerce and finance, married an Englishwoman, embraced a British nationality and also set up shop in 1905. He joined forces with Alfred James Davis to make Wilsdorf & Davis Ltd, selling Swiss watch movements. Wilsdorf, the enigmatic and extremely private German businessman, then abandoned London and took his company to Geneva in 1919, to be closer to his Bienne supplier, although he never gave up his British nationality. He died in 1960 in Geneva.Wilsdorf had a hunch there was a rewarding niche for specialised quality products – watches that nobody else was making. His first movement was to get men to wear wristwatches. Dominated by the pocket watch, guys were loath to wear what they considered feminine bracelets and damned if they were to swap their hefty pocket watches to get something smaller. Warfare would shortly alter the prevailing bias as soldiers discovered that strapping their watches on the wrist freed up both hands for battle and helped officers synchronise assaults.
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