You will find many Rolex watches flaunting a tiny Mercedes Benz logo placed near the hour hand’s tip. This is today a ubiquitous feature present on many watches from different watchmakers. This style of the handset is today known as ‘Mercedes-style’ hands globally.
However, the iconic Mercedes logo first appeared on Rolex watches in the mid-1950s. Now you may wonder why Rolex uses these Mercedes logo on the hands of its watches and what it signifies.
So let’s explore the reason why the Swiss watch giant decided to use the famous Mercedes logo as a signature feature on many of its popular sports models. Also keep reading to find out the popular myths on the Rolex’ Mercedes’ hands.
Rolex Watches With Mercedes Hands
Here are some of the Rolex watches from the brand’s iconic sports collection with the Mercedes hands that are currently in production –
The Submariner, Submariner Date, GMT-Master II, Explorer I & II, Sea-Dweller, Deepsea, Yacht-Master I & II, and Air-King.
Myth 1: Is it the Internationally Famous Three-Pointed Star Logo?
The actual logo of the internally renowned luxury car maker, Mercedes Benz, is a three-pointed star. Each point represents a unique way of transportation – air, sea and land. This emblem is one of the most famous and iconic brand logos in existence.
However, some watch fanatics and collectors believe that Rolex uses a similar design on its sports timepieces to indicate different environments the collection originally intended to conquer. For example –
The Submariner intended to conquer the sea, whereas the GMT-Master was made to be on the air. However, you will find Mercedes-style hands in many Rolex models available before the debut of the GMT-Master. So there is a possibility that early Rolex watches strapped the wrist of pilots during WWII represented the ‘air’ environment.
However, this does not explain the use of Mercedes-style hands in Rolex watches.
Myth 2: Rolex Mercedes Hands Honours Mercedes Gleitz
Another popular belief is that the Mercedes hour hand symbolically refers to Mercedes Gleitz, the British professional swimmer. A Rolex Oyster watch accompanied Gleitze on her wrist during her famous swim on the English Channel in 1927. It was an achievement for Rolex, too, as the timepiece stayed dry inside and worked perfectly throughout the entire venture. It was in cold water for over 15 hours.
So Mercedes Gleitz’s historical attempt helped Rolex to promote an advertising campaign. It manifested the excellent water-resistant ability of the innovative Oyster watch case. Interestingly, the brand uses Gleitz’s name to date within the marketing components of its watches.
Some believe that the brand subtly honours the British swimmer by integrating Mercedes-style hands on its sports models. However, this theory’s problem is there is no connection between Mercedes Benz and Mercedes Gleitze. Both are two different entities.
Rolex could have opted for a straightforward way to pay homage to this famous British swimmer. Moreover, it’s a pretty roundabout way that the brand uses the Mercedes-style hour hand because both named the same – ‘Mercedes’.
Myth 3: Rolex’s Tribute to Germany
Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, was born in Germany. But he considered London, England, to be his home. Thus, he initially chose to establish Rolex’s headquarter in London but finally moved it to Geneva in Switzerland due to tax reasons. However, Wilsdorf was an open supporter of the Allies during WWII in the 1950s.
Thus, it is said that Rolex pays homage to Germany by implementing the German automotive producer’s emblem in its watches’ hour hand. But it makes a little sense.
The Real Story of Rolex Mercedes Hands
Rolex has not unveiled any information officially regarding the origination history or the iconic hour hand style. Thus, several theories will continue to appear. Nonetheless, the Mercedes-style hand is a flagship feature of the brand’s sports models. While the design is practical and visually attractive, it has expanded throughout the watch industry.
So the Mercedes hour hand is likely a design element. Rolex fills the open spaces that the Mercedes star creates on the hand with luminescent paint. If an area is divided into two or four sections, it can stabilise the luminescent material effectively. But if the space had more divisions, the luminous material would have been lesser.
The three-pointed star emblem divides the space on the hour hand into three sections, resulting in an impressive balance. No section is too small to support the luminous component. Moreover, the three-pointed star style makes it look unique and stand out from other hand designs.
However, there is a possibility that the ‘Mercedes’ hands are naturally upgraded version of the early ‘Cathedral’ hands. You can find these hands in various watches of other watchmakers, available before Mercedes’ debut on Rolex models. Perhaps Rolex wanted to improve the legibility. Thus, they may have replaced the cathedral handset with the ‘Mercedes’ hands that we know today.