Exploration is in the DNA of Rolex. It has shaped the brand’s timepieces and designs since its founder, Hans Wilsdorf, first began testing them under the most extreme conditions of use in the 1930s.
After which, Oyster Perpetual watches have continuously aided explorers from the abyssal ocean to soaring peaks, from untrodden jungle to scorching desert, from the poles to the deepest caverns.
Rolex’s partnership with National Geographic was forged in 1954, in the wake of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, equipped with Oyster Perpetual chronometers.
That being said, the world has indeed changed. As the 21st century unfolds, exploration for pure discovery has given way to exploration as a means of preserving the natural world.
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.
The first expedition supported by this partnership is to Mount Everest. Having taken place since April and ending this month, the team is led by National Geographic and Tribhuvan University of Nepal.
It aims to understand better the effects of climate change on the glaciers of the Hindu Kush-Himalaya. The region that provides critical water resources to one billion people downstream.
This information, coupled with additional data sets on water supply and demand in the region, will form the basis of a new index to track the health of the Himalayan water system and inform decisions to help protect it.
President and CEO of the National Geographic Society Tracy R. Wolstencroft says: “Together with our partners at Rolex, we will harness the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to reveal critical insights about our changing world, advance understanding, and scale up solutions toward achieving a planet in balance.”
Both Rolex and National Geographic have long drawn inspiration from the remote places of the natural world, the marvels they hold – and from the courage, skill and tenacity which it takes to reach them.
In this current project, the watchmaking brand thus seeks to unite all those attributes and to serve humanity and the earth itself through the insights gathered by explorers and scientists.
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