GENEVA — At a time when trust and truth are under attack, it's somehow comforting to see that some reputations can still go untarnished.

For the third year in a row, Swiss company Rolex has earned the designation as the company with the world's best reputation, as awarded by the Reputation Institute, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The timeless watchmakers beat out (in order) LEGO, Google, Canon and the Walt Disney Company to the top spot.

"How do they do it? That's the million-dollar question," said Carsten Wegmann, director of the Reputation Institute. "Rolex has quality in their blood, from their highest director to their first apprentice." Part of maintaining high global standards is to keep operations close to home: all Rolex watch models continue to be developed and manufactured between Geneva and Bienne.

We noticed a decline in trust across the board.

In terms of methodology, the Reputation Institute contacted more than 230,000 people from 15 countries. The selected companies must meet three criteria: Have a "significant" presence in the countries surveyed, an "above average" reputation in their home country and a "global familiarity" of more than 40%.

Dominique Turpin, a professor at the International Institute of Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, believes this methodology "holds up." He stresses the infinite difficulty of accurately measuring one's reputation. "The public is fond of it and we are doing it today for just about everything. Even here at IMD, for example, we have a ranking of competitiveness that works very well. But, in the end, it allows the company that produces the rankings to become recognized."

Tennis champion Roger Federer playing in the Shanghai Masters — Photo: Fan Jun/ZUMA

Reputations, overall, took a hit in 2017. "This past year, we noticed a decline in trust across the board. Large companies are more easily criticized and challenged. But Rolex has never been in the spotlight for a misstep," said Wegmann.

"This ranking demonstrates the know-how and expertise that we can have in Switzerland with an international reputation," Rolex said in response to their victory.

Their expertise no doubt also includes smart marketing, and it should be noted that Rolex is the "Official Timekeeper" at Wimbledon, and the company sponsors fellow Swiss icon, tennis champion Roger Federer, who has 20 Grand Slam tournament titles over the past 15 years — and counting. That's the kind of quality you can set your watch to.


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