“Rolex Rioter” Draws Ire from Brand
Rolex is one of the most famous and prestigious names in luxury watches so it’s no surprise that the brand wants to keep its image intact. That’s why the watchmaker took out a page in several Italian newspapers seeking to distance the Rolex name from a rioter who appeared to sport one of the expensive timepieces on her dainty wrist as she vandalized Milan buildings with spray paint during recent protests against the opening of the Universal Exhibition.
The arresting image of a female anarchist dressed in black was splashed online and across the news media with a watch bearing the Rolex name clearly visible on her can-holding wrist. The Italian government used this photo as a reason to dismiss the rioters as mere spoiled rich brats resorting to violence out of boredom rather than any real commitment to a cause.
Statements such as Interior Minister Angelino Alfano’s description of the protestors as “masked crooks and Rolex-wearing preppy boys” and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s “While those with Rolexes were out smashing shop windows, they [locals] took it on themselves to tidy up” caused Rolex to take umbrage at having the brand’s fine name besmirched in such a tawdry manner.
In an open letter, Rolex Italy managing director Gianpaolo Marini complained, “Due to the [poor] quality of photos and videos broadcast by media, it is highly unlikely that the watch the hooligans wore can reliably be identified as a Rolex (and even more so as an authentic Rolex).
“I have to express my regret and disappointment at the incidental association your words made between smashing shop windows and wearing a Rolex.”
The luxury watchmaker has also demanded an apology from the Italian officials but so far none has been issued and the letter is being dismissed as a PR stunt. Given the number of fake Rolex watches for sale on any city street in the world it does seem unlikely that this fuzzy image shows the real thing.