The History Of
Rotary Watches

In 1895, Moise Dreyfuss opened a small factory in the Swiss town of La Chaux De Fonds, with the aim of producing high-quality watches. It was here that the Rotary brand was launched, quickly gaining a reputation for producing amazing, durable timepieces.

The business grew quickly, and 12 years later, Georges and Sylvain Dreyfuss opened a further office in Britain. The company imported the family’s watches, which were very well received. The company’s famous ‘winged wheel’ logo was introduced in 1925 and has remained as the company’s emblem ever since. Although the company is a member of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH, the UK office quickly became the Head Office.

Rotary and the British Army

As the brand grew and evolved, it also became one of the most innovative watch manufacturers in the world. In 1934, it launched its first shockproof watch, which was hugely successful. Rotary quickly gained a reputation for building strong, durable watches – so much so that, in 1940, the company was appointed to be the official watch supplier for the British Army.

In the years that followed, Rotary produced a range of specialist watches, including non-magnetic watches that were widely used by the British Army. Just two years later, the brand also launched its first automatic watch. This innovative piece was powered solely by the wearer’s movement.

The 1950s saw an increased demand for luxury watches, which also resulted in a new generation of watch manufacturers springing up. Despite this increased competition, Rotary continued to grow and gain popularity. It kept up with changing trends and developed a popular range of ladies’ fashion watches in 1956.

Innovation in the 1960s

Heading into the 1960s, the company made use of new technologies to assist in the manufacturing process. However, it also became apparent that Rotary was also one of the most forward-looking manufacturers in terms of training and staff development. The company pioneered a number of different skills training programmes for its workers, as well as apprenticeship schemes. Still a family company, Teddy Dreyfuss took over as the company chairman.

The next notable leap forward in Rotary’s offering came in 1973 when it launched its first quartz watch. This impressive timepiece used brand new electronic oscillator technology. It maintained its reputation as a leader in the production of strong, reliable watches for adventurous pursuits and in 1976, it became the official sponsor of British Racing Motors in Formula 1.

In 1987, the fourth generation of the Dreyfuss family joined the company as Rotary welcomed Robert Dreyfuss to the board.

Changes in the New Millennium

As the millennium dawned, the company also made some significant changes. The Swiss offices moved to a brand new location in Neuchatel, and the company moved their UK head offices to Elm Street in London. At this stage, their global footprint had also increased significantly, with Rotary watches now officially stocked in over 35 different countries around the world.

Over the years, Rotary has amassed a number of awards in the UK. In 2006 it also achieved the impressive feat of being awarded Superbrand status. This is an independent recognition scheme, run on behalf of the Academy of Chief Marketers in the UK. An expert council explores the history and growth of a brand, as well as its achievements. The process also involves a consumer voting process. The Superbrand status is awarded to brands that display a sufficient level of quality, reliability and distinction.

2006 also saw the launch of the Rotary Round Revelation technology, which is protected under patent and forms an intrinsic part of its new ranges. Rotary continues to produce a range of design-led, stunning timepieces, including its notable Editions range, and the diamond-set Rotary Rocks range of watches. The brand still prides itself on producing robust watches, and a number of the designs comply with ISO 2281 standards, meaning that they are waterproof. This makes them suitable for swimming and diving, and they are sometimes referred to by Rotary as their ‘Dolphin Standard’ watches.

Modern Rotary Watches

Rotary currently offers a wide selection of designer timepieces for both men and women. One of the latest ranges, the Greenwich Automatic Skeletons, epitomises the high quality and attention to detail that Rotary has become known for. The self-winding Miyota movement is visible from the front and back of the watch, making it a popular collection amongst watch enthusiasts around the world.

As Rotary looks forward to its 125th anniversary this year, it has also launched a collection of iconic designs that celebrate the brand’s long heritage. The company has based many of these designs on the important timepieces produced across the decades by Rotary, offering effortless style and promising to be a timeless piece which will retain its character for many decades to come.