Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rolex Oyster Fishbowl Ads



The First Waterproof Watch

How Rolex Brilliantly Used Fishbowls To 
Showcase The Waterproofness Of The Rolex Oyster


When Rolex introduced the revolutionary Oyster in 1926 it was an amazingly useful innovation. In other words, prior to the introduction of the Rolex Oyster, there were NO waterproof watches. It is hard to fathom (no pun intended) a world without waterproof cases, since we take them for granted today, but back in the late 1920s, through the 1960s, having a waterproof watch was a HUGE DEAL.  

In 1926, at age 45, Hans Wilsdorf had successfully designed, manufactured and patented the waterproof Rolex Oyster. The challenge he faced was, how to communicate the value-proposition of such a product? 



1926 Italian Rolex Mermaid Oyster Poster

Hans came up with the idea of associating the fantasy of mermaids with the waterproof Rolex Oyster as seen in the 1926 Italian Rolex advertisement seen below.


Since Wilsdorf had a brilliant strategic marketing mind, he realized since human beings reasoned by analogy, if he showcased Rolex watches immersed in fishbowls, people would understand the real innovation the Rolex Oyster case offered, thus on November 9, 1922, Rolex patented an aquarium under Patent #52986, for showcasing fish swimming in the bowl with a submerged Rolex watch. The Rolex photo below from the late 1920s shows a beautiful woman with her Rolex immersed in a fishbowl, which made people really think when they saw the photo.



At the same time, as seen in the Rolex illustration below, Hans Wilsdorf came up with a brilliant idea to have authorized Rolex dealers display the waterproof Rolex Oysters watches, in fish-tanks, in their windows–with real fish swimming around the watch!!! This of course gained the fascination of many passer-bys.




Pictured below we see an actual Rolex Fishbowl store display, which would have had real fish swimming around, as well as a Rolex Oyster watch. The aqua blue water in the bowl just illustrates the waterline.
The photo below shows a different style Rolex fishbowl showcase, and obviously this one has no water, fish or Rolex inside.


1964 Rolex Fishbowl Ad

This Rolex Magazine ad from 1964 probably represents the tail end of Rolex communicating waterproofness by using a fish in a fishbowl. Fascinating, uh?!?!

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