Is Rolex a Non-Profit Organization?

Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR VS 116710blnr

Is Rolex a Non-Profit Organization?

Rolex is not like most other watch companies out there. In fact, the way Rolex conducts business is very different way. As Rolex’s slogan goes ”The Rolex Way”, you could say this applies to the way the company is run.

When you think about giant luxury corporations like Rolex, non-profit is certainly not the first thing to come to mind.

But the fact of the matter is that Rolex is, in fact, a non-profit. But there’s more to it than that.

Rolex watch company – Rolex S.A – is owned by the Wilsdorf Foundation. Hans Wilsdorf was the founder of Rolex and established the foundation in 1945. The foundation was established to commemorate his wife Florence Frances May Wilsdorf-Crotty, who died in 1944. Refer to our complete guide to the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation and how much of Rolex’s profits go to charity here.

Rolex_workshops
Photo by Hodinkee.

Hans Wilsdorf moved his 100% ownership of Rolex to the foundation in 1960. Since then, The Wilsdorf Foundation owns and controls the Rolex watch company to this very day. 

So, what is a non-profit organization?

In Wikipedia’s definition:


 ”A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is an organization dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a shared point of view. In economic terms, it is an organization using its surplus of the revenues to further achieve its ultimate objective, rather than distributing its income to the organization’s shareholders, leaders, or members.”


So what does Rolex do with all of its money? Today, Rolex donates a large part of its profits to charity and social causes. You can read all about Rolex’s charity efforts on Rolex.org. The areas that Rolex focuses on are the environment, science, and arts.

Rolex Submariner 16613 VS Submariner 16610

With that said, being a non-profit does not mean that the company has no interest in making money and seeing good numbers. However, what it does allow, that sets Rolex apart from its competitors is the fact that it has no shareholders or investors who may want to have a say in how the company is run, but also sets pressure to keep the stock price high, and constantly increasing, as well as increasing sales and profits.

Unfortunately, this has a risk of resulting in the company being run with a short-term profit mindset, rather than a long-term brand-and company-building strategy that allows the company to flourish for many decades to come. We can see this happening with many companies that, for example, release countless limited-edition models purely to boost short-term sales, not thinking about the effect that this has on the long-term value and strength of the brand.

Rolex GMT-Master II 126711CHNR Root beer

With that in mind, Rolex still works hard to improve and innovate its products, and of course, has an interest in growing bigger and increasing its revenue and profits.

But being a non-profit, it can play the long-term game with a long-term strategy. Rolex is not desperate to boost sales in the coming year, but rather to make sure it has a flourishing and well-established brand 30, 40, or even 100 years from now. It’s willing to say no to short-term profit to ensure the longevity and strength of the brand. That is what the non-profit allows Rolex to do, without any shareholders having any say. That is the Rolex way.

Rolex is perhaps the most secretive company in the watch industry. Limited information is shared with the public, including things such as material sourcing, but also financials.

It’s safe to say that Rolex’s way of conducting business has paid off and proven to be very successful. But Rolex S.A. nor the Wilsdorf Foundation have any legal obligation to disclose their financials. What allows Rolex to operate its company so secretively can also be attributed to its non-profit status. With that in mind, Rolex has no shareholders that demand insight into the company and detailed reports about its financials. 

23 thoughts on “Is Rolex a Non-Profit Organization?

  1. Wow, now that I have learned that Rolex is a non-profit and donates a major portion of their mega profits back into healing this broken world, I feel a lot better how it dominates the luxury watch market! Yet I still think their Cilliani, dress watches are much more chic than the sports watches! Bravo to the founder, Hans Wilsdorf , as he looks down upon us from heaven!!!! I am not easily surprised! God Bless you all, this Kenna,actaully I am KC, sending you applause and prayers from deluded Hollywood, California!!!

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

    2. Absolutely amazing

      1. Extraordinary!

  2. Seriously, can’t believe ppl are taken in by such articles. Rolex doesn’t publish what it gives to charity for all we know it could be virtually nothing and being a foundation means it will pay less tax. Given Rolex charges a hefty premium for its watches over Omega, Zenith, GS and more you can hardly say that shareholders are forcing the high prices it’s simple profiteering. Rolex is solely a collector’s brand now due to their greed and artificially limiting the supply of watches. Hopefully ppl will see the other brands I’ve mentioned are actually the better bet.

    1. There are no shareholders that’s the point. That’s where paying less tax and profiteering as you call it is founded and exploited

    2. Pathetic comments…narcissistic to the core

      1. Fully Agree.

    3. The prices are high to keep it a high end product you fool. That’s it’s niche. Stop making Everything so negative .

    4. You can use a sundial and go back to the dark ages. I het you’re a flat Earther too, nimrod $

    5. I’ll have to disagree that Rolex sells their watches for “a hefty premium”, for what you’re getting they’re quite reasonable when compared to say AP, or PTKP. They’re on a higher level finish and durability wise than Omega, GS, Zenith, using a proprietary metal for their cases and bracelets that’s harder than their competitors. I agree they don’t produce enough, but I believe they produce their planned quantity annually (being cautious not to do overproduce while balancing demand). And if you want a readily available Rolex variant that’s more tool watch less heirloom, you simply buy a Tudor.

    6. It doesn’t mean that while the public doesn’t know the exact details of their spendings, the government doesn’t know either. You can’t just call yourself an NPO and then pocket all the benefits… and on Rolex.org their programme is quite well explained.

      1. That is absolutely correct. If you do some research, a lot of their philanthropic work is well-documented. We discuss some of the key activities in this article:
        https://millenarywatches.com/how-much-of-rolex-profits-go-to-charity-hans-wilsdorf-foundation-guide/

        As you’ll be able to read, we are not talking about small sums that they are donating..

        Kind regards,
        Millenary Watches

    7. Not someone seriously comparing Rolex to GS. That’s a joke!

      1. you clearly haven’t looked into how GS watches are made

    8. Always a hater in the bunch. You obviously are a non trusting individual the Rolex are the best. And smart look at the stock market . You obviously don’t have a Rolex. I love mine.

  3. I have a couple of Rolex watches. I never knew and found this info interesting.

  4. Interesting, I did not know this. Thank you for sharing. Somehow, even after reading this article and comments I still do not feel the desire to explore other watches. My wife and I are happy with ours and hope my children follow my footsteps in owning their own as they become of age.

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!
      You can read a more in-depth article about their spending and philanthropy work here:
      https://millenarywatches.com/how-much-of-rolex-profits-go-to-charity-hans-wilsdorf-foundation-guide/

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

  5. I didn’t know this , although have always been a Rolex addict. I left school at 16 ( 1976) and got a job at our local Rolex showroom in Brighton . The rest is history..

    1. Now you know!:-)

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

  6. With the number of comparison reviews out there pitting Rolex vs Omega, GS, Zenith etc. there’s no excuse for thinking they’re of better quality. Do some research and you’ll find much better options for much less money.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

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