If we travel back in time, we find that World War II (and, especially, the frogmen of the Italian Navy) demonstrated the potential of underwater warfare and thus the need for salvage. This, in turn, further increased the need for water-resistant watches in order to better conduct underwater missions involving timing and navigation. The 1940s marked the introduction of various water-resistant watches and, of course, the canteen-style watches that were equipped with little more than an additional crown cap for increased water resistance. Earlier, in the 1930s, there was Panerai supplying the Italian naval divers with various instruments as well as (in cooperation with Rolex) some of the first specifically developed watches for divers.


After the Omega Speedmaster Professional won the race to the Moon in 1969, Omega thought it was time to come up with a watch that was perhaps a bit more up-to-date and ready for the 1970s — design-wise, that is, as the watch would still need to handle the same abuse as the Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch” could. Sometime in 1969, Omega introduced the first Speedmaster Mark II, which was actually a Speedmaster Professional Mark II. (For non-native-English-speaking readers: the “Mark” in the name stands for a new or revised/improved version; it is similar to calling something a “2.0 version” these days.)


The cornerstone of this singular distinction was Rolex’s founder, Hans Wilsdorf, a native of Kulmbach, Germany, who registered the brand name in 1908. He put his faith in wristwatches at an early date and set out to rectify their shortcomings: for example, wristwatches were notoriously less accurate than pocketwatches. But Wilsdorf’s Rolex wristwatches soon ticked so precisely that they earned official certification as chronometers. He patented his first watertight watches in 1926, followed by patent protection for automatic winding in 1931. With these two functional abilities, the optimal wristwatch was born — and Rolex positioned itself as the technical leader for precise, watertight, self-winding watches. The label successfully advanced along this path with its divers’ watches, while simultaneously creating structures that guarantee high quality and an outstandingly accurate rate