Rolex Founder Hans Wilsdorf Dies in 1960

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“Originality and quality must be our slogan for the future in every country. Every Rolex watch must be an ambassador of quality.” The legacy set forth by visionary Hans Wilsdorf lives on through the international success of the Rolex brand decades after his death on July 6, 1960 in Geneva, Switzerland. 

black and white photo of rolex founder hans wilsdorf circa 1942
Rolex Founder Hans Wilsdorf circa 1942 (photo: Rolex)

Innovation and classic style were never mutually exclusive in Wilsdorf's mind. His desire to outpace the mechanical watch industry of his time by adding utilitarian improvements to wristwatches never overshadowed the importance he placed on design aesthetic. The combination of technical advancement and reverence for beauty is still an integral part of Rolex's success.

Wilsdorf left his fortune and his company to the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, a trust he created upon the death of his wife, May Wilsdorf, in 1944. He stipulated that Rolex was never to become a public company and that part of his fortune be donated to charity. 

“Step boldly. Success demands courage and iron will.”

While he is no longer at its helm, Hans Wilsdorf's imprint is on every wristwatch Rolex manufactures to this day. He tied the brand to excellence and success, and through his words and his actions, guaranteed a future for the company of his creation beyond his own time on Earth.


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