For many years Rolex has supported individuals and organizations whose aims have been to explore the Earth, find innovative solutions for positive change and raise awareness of critical environmental issues.
In 1954, a year after the ascent of Everest, Rolex embarked on an enduring partnership with the National Geographic Society, equipping expeditions that ventured to the extremes of the Earth and the oceans that were later featured in the society’s famed magazine. It proved to be a partnership that has strengthened over time.
The brand also embraced a partnership with The Explorers Club in New York, which was set up to fund and promote scientific exploration in 1904 and whose members include those who were among the first to the North and South Poles and even the moon. In 2017, this relationship led the brand to set up The Rolex Explorers Club Grants, providing project funding each year, for up to five young explorers through The Rolex Explorers Club.
Another institution that Rolex has been involved with over the long-term is the United Kingdom’s Royal Geographical Society (RGS), the venerable 188 year-old organization that enabled some of the great surveys of Africa and India, and expeditions to the Antarctic by Shackleton and Scott, which are still of vital interest today. In 1986, the RGS conducted a study of the Wahiba Sands in Oman, the best-known example of a small sand-sea ecosystem in the world. The research was later used to protect similar areas under threat. More recently, Rolex has been supporting the Society's Collections, associated exhibitions and the curatorial work of the photographic library.
The oceans constitute 70 per cent of the world’s surface. Recognizing their importance, Rolex has sponsored the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® for more than 40 years. This global organization advances ocean studies through a vast community of marine scientists.
Since 2011, Rolex has supported the Monaco Blue Initiative and Monaco Ocean Week, co-organized by the Oceanographic Institute, Foundation Albert I, Prince of Monaco, and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Rolex is also Official Watch of the museum of marine sciences, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, which aims to share knowledge and raise public awareness of the challenges faced in preserving oceans.
Explorers and conservationists also benefit from the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, a philanthropic programme created in 1976 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Oyster watch. Laureates of the awards receive a cash prize to fund a new or ongoing scientific or environmental project anywhere in the world.
Recent winners include Italian geologist Francesco Sauro who abseils deep inside South America’s remote table-top mountains, leading scientific expeditions into labyrinthine caverns where no human has ever set foot. And Joseph Cook, a British glaciologist, is revealing that the Greenland ice sheet is anything but the pristine expanse of ice we imagine. Instead, it is a place of vivid hues created by billions of microscopic organisms in an ecosystem he is investigating for its capacity to drive changes in Earth’s climate.