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The leading name in luxury wristwatches, Rolex has been the pre-eminent symbol of performance and prestige since its founding over a century ago. Just as Rolex has resolutely pursued perfection in fine watch-making, it has encouraged individual excellence by supporting visionary individuals who make significant contributions to society. Its long-standing tradition of innovative philanthropy and cultural sponsorship extends from the arts to science, innovation, education and conservation.
Rolex’s commitment to culture began in the 1970s, with the forging of a unique relationship with New Zealand soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Since that time, the company has developed close ties with many of the world’s greatest living artists, including Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Yo-Yo Ma, Gustavo Dudamel, William Forsythe and Sylvie Guillem. These relationships have inspired Rolex’s sponsorship of international arts events such as Operalia as well as unique partnerships not only with the Wiener Philharmoniker, but also La Scala in Milan and the Royal Opera House in London, to name a few.
To expand its association with individual excellence in the arts, the company launched the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative in 2002, spearheaded by Rolex Chief Executive Patrick Heiniger. Noting the lack of corporate support for individual artists across a range of disciplines, Rolex created the Arts Initiative to foster the next generation of artistic excellence and fill a void in arts philanthropy around the globe. Protégés in visual arts, dance, theatre, music, film and literature receive generous grants and support for a year of intense collaboration with their mentors. Since its beginnings, 218 people, including mentors, protégés and distinguished arts leaders from more than 40 countries, have participated in the Rolex Arts Initiative, including John Baldessari, Stephen Frears, David Hockney, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jessye Norman, Julie Taymor, Martin Scorsese and Pinchas Zukerman.
Rolex also supports Ashes and Snow, an installation of large-scale photographs and films by the Canadian artist Gregory Colbert. The Nomadic Museum that houses this unique artwork has travelled to Venice, New York, Santa Monica (California), Tokyo and Mexico City. To date, more than nine and a half million people around the world have attended the exhibition, which continues its global migration with stops planned in Latin America, Asia and Europe.