PREAMBLE: Another blog post about the Rolex Midas series? You are bored? You ask why? Well, because most others either don't look at this watch or just write what we already found / researched (see earlier blog posts) and I think the watch still carries some secrets and is more than what first meets the eye -- and so we go on.
Rolex Midas -- is this the most mysterious, most loaded, most secret and most misunderstood Rolex, ever? Let us see.
It was initiated by Hans Wilsdorf himself in the late 50s (see Ad 1. below). He died in 1960 and was buried on the Cemetery of Kings in Geneva, but he initiated this series as a late (last?) project. Involved was his right hand-guy Mr Jeanneret (his King Midas was sold twice lately) and it was designed by the most avant-gardistic designer around: Gerald C. Genta, the Picasso of Watch Design and later designer of AP Royal Oak, Patek Nautilus and IWC Ingenieur etc.
We can just guess but the order by Wilsdorf to Genta on telephone probably was: "Mr Genta, hello. Hans here. Now, please design me a Rolex: all-gold, heavy, integrated bracelet, highest quality possible, latest super-thin movement and latest technology sapphire-crystal for ever-lasting. Don't think about its production cost or price. Even if we loose money on every piece sold: We will make it not only very expensive but also limited, sure. You are still young but let me tell you: Money doesn't matter for a man of my age and position. Much more important, Mr Genta: Make it look timeless or at least so far ahead of its time, that it will not get old in the next century. This would be really important for me. Ah, and please don't make it an obvious Rolex. Do you understand what I mean? Yes, I know you do. I am sure you are the right man here. Thank you so much and speak to you soon. Good bye. Good bye." Yes, that was it. And Genta did not fail: He created a Rolex that could not be designed by a Rolex in-house designer.
It is a watch that stands so far out of the overall Rolex portfolio, that everyone seeing it for first time is surprised IT IS A ROLEX. And not only by design. No, it is the highest quality watch the manufacture in Geneva has emitted in the 60s and 70s and it was so ahead of its time, that even Enterprise' Jean-Luc Picard could wear it on a night out in "Ten Forward" and nobody would be surprised.
It is loaded with mystic signs and a dystopian background story. It was advertised as something really special, and priced even higher and it was the Rolex gifted so many times.
Further details? Bullet points:
- Gerald Genta-Heritage led by Ms Genta confirmed the design of the King Midas by Gerald Genta;
- the case is depicting the Sun (crown) above the Pantheon, the ancient Greek "Temple of All Gods";
- dystopian: The good character of Midas got him that gift from Dyonisus, that was badly chosen because of the bad parts of his (King Midas) character: "Be Careful What You Wish For. You May Receive It."
- the gift was made by Dionysus, the ancient Greek God of Joy, Wine and Fertility -- have you ever wondered why the initial Queen Midas is at least as impressive as the King?
- it is even today a Rolex that is not identified as a Rolex and imagine this design in the 1960s, and the weight and the quality -- simply far out;
- Rolex advertised it as "very, very expensive" and it was costing more than any Daytona or Day-Date -- far out, again;
- it was gifted to: Rene-Paul Jeanneret (Hans Wilsdorfs Aide-de-Camp) in 1962, Elvis Presley in 1970, John Wayne in 1971 or 1972, Rihanna by A$AP Rocky in 2022;
And I am sure, when Philips Watch Auctions starts looking at this watch, then they will surprise us with sooo many Rolex Midas being gifted to important people for important things they did: for a reason more than 800 Midas were made and I am sure most of them are connected to popular persons and were important gifts. Is it possible, it was thought, created, designed and manufactured just for this reason: The Rolex to be Gifted!?
But of course not the usual 20 years company seniority gift of a commodity Rolex. Something different. Something completely different, to make sure not the slightest misunderstanding comes up. Maybe, yes. Maybe.
Ad 1.) As Watchfinder puts it when explaining the etymology of the brand name Rolex designed by Wilsdorf: "Wilsdorf was fluent in Latin, the study of which being one of his favourite subjects. So, examining the etymology of the word clock, in Latin we see horologium, a word still very familiar to us today. Where the etymology of that extends in either direction, however, gives us a possibility for the word that was whispered into Wilsdorf’s ear. Go back to the ancient Greek upon which horologium is based and you find “Roloi”. Extend forward into the language that, today, maintains the most of its Latin roots, Spanish, and you have “Reloj”. Somewhere in between, and you’ll come across the word, “Relox”, just one letter swap away from the brand we know and love today. Perhaps when Wilsdorf referred to the genie, he was actually referencing the Latin derivation of genius: his own genius having subconsciously delivered the word that would make him famous" (here). Given this, it seems very likely that there are less things just by accident and things were made with a meaning than one thinks when it comes to Rolex Midas.
Ad 2.) Interesting: I was told that Hans Wilsdorf chose the brand name Rolex because of his knowledge of ancient greek language and the greek word ρολόι (speak: rolói), etymological source of horologium (latin), reloj (spanish) and meaning clock -- so the short track or direct reference to ancient greek, but similar to the source named by Watchfinder above. I cannot prove this or that as true or false but want to add it here, as I see good possibility of it being true.