Rolex Celebrates 40 Years of Awards for Enterprise

By Paul Joseph

Forty years ago, Rolex made history by announcing one of the world’s first major corporate awards programmes, the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, which support exceptional individuals with the passion and commitment to improve life on the planet.

Rolex have announced that the company is commemorating the anniversary by paying tribute to the Rolex Laureates, who have reshaped the world with their innovative thinking and dynamism. The celebration will culminate in a public awards ceremony in Los Angeles on 15 November.

The Rolex Awards were set up to mark 50 years of the historic achievement of the Rolex Oyster, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch. The objective was to create a programme that reflected the spirit of enterprise that inspired Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf to create this iconic timepiece.

Since then, Rolex Laureates, ranging in age from 24 to 74, have carried out projects benefiting millions of people in more than 60 countries by implementing technological and scientific innovations, protecting endangered species and ecosystems, exploring new frontiers, reviving time-honoured practices and protecting forgotten peoples, as well as providing safe, affordable water, energy, shelter, food, medicine and health care in developing countries.

They include an Australian biomedical engineer who has revolutionized the delivery of vaccines to save millions of lives in the developing world through a painless patch; a young entrepreneur in the Philippines who is helping impoverished women earn a decent living by turning scrap materials into sustainable products; a Bolivian social psychologist who has helped return stolen cultural artefacts to Andean communities; and a Swiss ornithologist who went to study birds in Brazil and planted millions of trees.

“The Rolex Awards were designed to support those whose own spirit of enterprise mirrored the enterprising spirit on which the company was founded,” said Rebecca Irvin, Head of Philanthropy at Rolex.

“The idea was to encourage new ventures rather than reward past achievements and to recognize people who were doing things differently, exploring beyond boundaries and bringing often unconventional and ground-breaking ideas to help change the world into the mainstream. Significantly, the programme reflects the Rolex brand values of quality, ingenuity and individual achievement.”

In November, the 2016 Laureates and Young Laureates, pioneers aged between 18 and 30, will be announced at the special 40th anniversary ceremony in California.

By Paul Joseph