Jun 1st 2023

Chicago is a city of broad shoulders and big dreams. Our communities have delivered some of the biggest names in the fields of music, culinary arts, architectural design, and dance, to name a few. Before they inspired the world, however, each of these artists was the mentee of a champion, someone who believed in their potential even before it was clear how far they would go. Razny Jewelers is proud to represent Rolex in the Greater Chicago Area, a timepiece brand determined to support artists of varying backgrounds globally. This year, our family celebrates the brand's two-decade-long history of supporting dreamers.

Khoudia Touré, 2018–2019 protégée in dance, with her mentor, the renowned Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite.

Rolex is celebrating 20 years of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, part of the brand’s longstanding commitment to global arts and culture.

For more than half a century, Rolex has partnered some of the world’s most talented artists and leading cultural institutions to celebrate excellence and contribute to perpetuating artistic heritage, creating a link between the past, present, and future.

Through the Rolex Perpetual Arts Initiative, a broad portfolio of arts that extends through music, architecture, cinema, and the Rolex mentoring program, the brand confirms its long-term commitment to global culture.

The mentoring experience can provide the opportunity for a thrilling collaboration.

The mentoring program was launched in 2002 with a noble aim: to ensure that the world’s artistic heritage is passed on from one generation to another in a manner that transcends boundaries of nations, cultures, disciplines and generations. It revived the traditional idea of mentorship, a natural approach coming from a watchmaking company with a long-established system of apprenticeship. At a key moment in their professional lives, as they stand on the brink of recognition, young artists are invited by Rolex to be mentored by great visionaries in their respective fields – artists they might never have hoped to meet, let alone enjoy their guidance.

2018–2019 music protégé Marcus Gilmore who was mentored by Zakir Hussain.


Rolex was ahead of its time with its vision of a program that was set up to be inclusive and that brought so many art forms – visual arts, dance, theatre, music, literature, film and architecture together under one umbrella. It was unique among corporate arts programs in both scope and scale. Twenty years later, the program demonstrates astonishing impact. How many programs have such a huge community of artists and arts administrators that stretches across the world?

Since 2002, 1,350 people from 120 countries have been nominated for the program, and hundreds of major artists or influential figures in the arts have nominated young artists or served as advisors. To date, 63 mentors have chosen 63 protégés from 41 countries. Rolex considers the development of this global creative community to be one of the greatest achievements of the program.

Celebrated director Martin Scorsese, mentor in film in 2008–2009, invited his protégée Celina Murga to visit the set of his film Shutter Island.


Another striking aspect of the program has been the extraordinary calibre of artists it has attracted to its mission. Brian Eno, Stephen Frears, David Hockney, Zakir Hussain, Robert Lepage, Mario Vargas Llosa, the late Toni Morrison, the late Jessye Norman, Crystal Pite, Julie Taymor, Kazuyo Sejima and Sir David Chipperfield are just a few of the major artists who have generously given their time to take part.

2016–2017 architecture mentor Sir David Chipperfield and his protégé Simon Kretz.

2006–2007 theatre mentor Julie Taymor and her protégée Selina Cartmell.

Over 20 years, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative has achieved respect and legitimacy in artistic circles for its distinctive and unique vision of mentoring – generous and global – that plays a tangible role in promoting excellence and the future of the arts. The program has helped exceptional younger talents reveal their full potential, encouraged dialogue across cultures and disciplines, and built a multigenerational artistic community around the globe.

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