Determining how a watch company got its name is pretty straight forward, they are usually named after the founders. Breguet, Abraham-Louis Breguet. Patek Philippe, Norbert Patek founded his watch company and later hired Adrien Philippe. Jaeger-leCoultre, Edmond Jaeger joined forces with the company Antoine LeCoultre founded 80 years prior. Girard-Perregaux, Constant Girard married Marie Perregaux and took charge of her family’s manufacturer.
Some are a bit tricker. TAG Heuer began as Heuer Watch Mfg in 1860 and in 1985 the French firm Techniques d’Avant Garde bought them. Viola!, TAG Heuer. Bell & Ross, Bruno Belamich and Carlos Rosillo. Bell & Ross not only is easier to say but it fits on the dial much better. Hublot is an Italian word for porthole. Bonus points if you can get Maurice Lacroix. He was on the board of the Swiss firm Desco when they changed their watch manufacture from private label to a branded watch.
Some incorporate the region of the manufacturer. IWC Schaffhausen is located in Schaffhausen Switzerland, north of Zurich. Glashütte Original is in Glushutte in the Saxony region of Germany. Lange & Sohne is located there as well, named after Ferdinand Lange of course.
And then there’s Rolex. Hans Wilsdorf started his watch company in London in 1905. Perhaps the name Wilsdorf was difficult to pronounce or like B&R didn’t fit the dial well. Whatever the reason, he registered the trademark Rolex in 1908 and a brand was born. There is much conjecture behind the name including the odd one that Rolex is the sound made when the watch is wound…hmmm. James Dowling of TimeZone claims that Rolex was simply made up. This falls neatly into the theory of the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Wherever the name came from, Rolex isn’t talking which makes it all speculation. But that’s usually the fun part.