For the founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf, the world was like a living laboratory. He began to use it as a testing ground for his watches from the 1930s, sending them to the most extreme locations. As the 21st century unfolds, exploration for pure discovery has given way to exploration as a means to preserve the natural world.
This year, Rolex launched a campaign titled Perpetual Planet. For now, it embraces three main pillars – an enhanced partnership with the National Geographic Society to study the impacts of climate change, Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue initiative to safeguard the oceans through a network of marine protected “Hope Spots”, and the Rolex Awards for Enterprise that recognize individuals with projects that advance knowledge and protect human well-being and the environment.
Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue
Sylvia Earle, a Rolex Testimonee since 1982, has been a pioneer of ocean exploration for nearly 50 years. In 2010, Earle launched her Mission Blue initiative, inspiring communities and governments to shield marine life that is at risk from human pressures through Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) she calls Hope Spots. With the support of Rolex since 2014, the number of Hope Spots has increased from 50 to 112 over the past five years. Earle aims to protect 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030. Currently, 8 per cent of the oceans are protected.
Rolex Awards for Enterprise
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise programme was launched in 1976, and has assisted over 140 individuals who have a new or ongoing project anywhere in the world – one deserving support for its capacity to improve lives or to protect the world’s natural and cultural heritage. Winners were awarded for spearheading innovative process in tackling plastic waste; saving human communities through wildlife food resources management; helping local communities to conserve endangered species, developing new innovations in neuroscience, and improving technology for malaria diagnosis.
Rolex and National Geographic
A shared spirit of discovery drew Rolex and National Geographic together. In 1954, this involvement in exploration led Rolex naturally into a partnership with the National Geographic Society. This year, under the name Perpetual Planet Extreme Expeditions, Rolex and National Geographic are planning a five-year exploration of the planet’s most extreme environments starting with an expedition to Mount Everest with an aim to understand better the effects of climate change on the glaciers of the Hindu Kush-Himalaya that provide critical water resources to one billion people downstream.