Keep on Playing: How Rolex is Celebrating and Preserving Classical Music - Arts & Culture

By sponsoring, presenting, and celebrating the world’s largest classical music events, it continues its founder’s passion for the arts.

When German-born British businessman Hans Wilsdorf founded Rolex about 117 years ago, he sought to innovate in watchmaking. To succeed, he concentrated on quality movement and chronometric precision. Then, in 1910, five years after Rolex’s debut, he created the first wristwatch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision.

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Fast forward to present times, the Rolex brand still values Wilsdorf’s vision for excellence and expands his values by supporting the best of performing arts.

Through “Rolex Testimonees,” which began in the 1970s supporting New Zealand soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the prestigious watchmaker associates themselves with top classical performers like pianist Yuja Wang and tenor Juan Diego Florez.

From left: Rolex supported musicians tenor Juan Diego Florez and pianist Yuja Wang.

Beyond sponsorships, the Rolex Mentor and Protege Initiative seek young talent to collaborate and learn from masters through one-on-one mentorship programs. In addition to cultivating the future of performing arts, the Switzerland-based brand also partners with historical venues to maintain its prestige.

These performance arts sites include London’s Royal Opera House, Opera National De Paris, and New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Prestigious performances 

At par with its founder’s enthusiasm for the arts and culture, Rolex further maintains Wildorf’s legacy by presenting the world’s biggest classical music and orchestra events. Since 2009, they’ve partnered with Vienna’s Summer Night Concert.

The annual festivity, which gathers 100,000 yearly at Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn, makes music by the Vienna Philharmonic accessible to all. 

London’s Royal Opera house which hosts over 500 performances a year on its two stages.

In Austria, Rolex is the main sponsor of the Salzburg Festival, which began in 1920. The event combines the arts and leisure by bringing together globally known conductors, stage directors, singers, musicians, actors, and orchestras for performances in opera, drama, and concerts.

This year, at the festival’s summer event in August, there will be eight operas, six drama performances, and at least fifteen concerts planned in its program.  

Supporting digital

Patrons come from near and far Europe to experience these events. However, the pandemic paused massive crowds and prompted travel borders.

But through partnering with Medici, the world’s first and largest online collection of classical music and digital operatic library Opera Online, the watchmaker has been able to continue to appease fans from their homes.

From the list of initiatives on how the long-standing brand lifts music, culture, and young talent, it’s wonderful to know that the classic forms of entertainment will continue to thrive in today’s modern world.

Photos courtesy of Rolex

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