Updates to the Rolex Website

Almost since we launched the new Rolex.com website back at the end January, we’ve been working on more updates.

First off are four additional languages with which to learn all there is about Rolex: Spanish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and for the first time on Rolex’s website, French. These are the “international” versions of the languages, so you won’t find Quebecois, Latin American Spanish, or Satsuma-ben. That’s not to say it won’t ever happen, but you have to start somewhere, right?

We didn’t do the translations, we just set RedDot (the content management system) up to allow entry of the translations. The actual translating is done by Datawords-Datasia, an agency based in Paris. I absolutely love working with Datasia — they’re extremely forgiving (we had some serious challenges getting the RedDot system set up properly, as we’d been running flat out and missed a few things that Datasia needed) and very patient. And despite delays from us, they still met the deadlines. I’m really looking forward to working with them in the future — especially once we get all the bugs out of our system.

That said, we still had to do a lot more development on the translations end than we’d expected. We had expected some work. After all, our design could not fully account for the translations we’d receive. And at the speed we were developing the English site, there was no way for us to completely account for every possible issue.

While we were supporting the translations, the rest of the team was frantically preparing work for two major projects that had to launch at 9:00 Geneva time (GMT+2, summer time) on 12 April. That coincides with the opening of the BaselWorld fair, a major tradeshow for Rolex. This would be the first time that watches that premiered at Basel would also appear on their website. This is something we all took seriously.

So seriously that everyone had to be sworn to secrecy. Mostly because we had to be told about the launch of the first new watch (and new complication) at Rolex in 50 years: the Yacht-Master II. It was so secret that materials couldn’t be left on desks. We talked about it in hushed tones. We even gave it a codename: “Liberace”. All to do one thing: Wow the industry. Show them something that none of the other watchmakers had done, and show what the watch is all about.

Then we had the actual section for Basel. Two more codenames: “Sparky” (hiding the relaunch of the landmark Milgauss), and “Black Knight” (for the DateJust Special Edition). But there were also several updates, including information for the Air King, new faces for some of the lines, and new jewelled creations. No matter how you look at it, there was a lot of work that had to be done in a very short period of time.

The worst part was that I inadvertently scheduled a vacation during the middle of the development cycle. While I was in sunny Hawaii, my development team was serving out their heart and soul to make the project deadlines. In fact, the day after I got back to Calgary was Good Friday … and I came in to help out. Not that I develop any more, but I can help with decisions and provide direction. When you’re under the gun, you’re very happy to let others make decisions so you can focus. Well, I did when I was a developer, anyway.

We’ve been running flat out since October. We’ve been using the CMS since early December. Our project cycles have been tight and we’re not entirely happy with it — there’s things we all want to improve. But then, we’re getting as obsessive about our website as Rolex is about their watches. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

I do need to wholeheartedly thank the Project Managers (Jason, Charity, Marcie, Erica, Grant, and Tori), the Account Team (Dan, Jaime, Hannah, Steve, and Daniel), the Creative Team (Jason, Jordon, Carl, Steve B., Reza, Ray, Sanjai, Crystal, Andrew K., Mark, Steve K., Sean, Andrew Z. … dammit, I know I’m missing someone), and the QA Team (Brian, John, Lyn, Pedro). Their guidance, creativity, and diligence allowed us to come up with something truly amazing.

But above all, I really do need to thank my development team. I’ve seen a lot of spirit and spunk from a lot of people, but when push came to shove, they didn’t shove against the rest of the team — they shoved the envelope instead. They battled not only perceived technical limitations, but also extreme fatigue, took a lot of personal time (I need to extend the thanks, of course, to the families who’ve been so understanding), and did everything they could to bring out there ideas to life.

My salute goes out to Scott I., Scott M. (now at Yahoo!), Martin, Tim, Natalia, Craig, Liying, Troy, Tamara, Fraser, Jesse, Nick, Mike, and Gary. As well, I give a farewell thank-you to Jim, whose swan song was this last batch of updates before he, too, goes to Yahoo! (Jerk.)

Do not believe for a moment that we’re done, however. We’ve only just built our fancy little racecar. Now we get to tune it. We’re only getting started…