Who is Hans Wilsdorf?

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Most of the biggest companies in the world owe their success to a visionary who put them on the path to global domination. Like Steve Jobs and Walt Disney, Hans Wilsdorf took his company to the top of his industry through innovation and a dedication to excellence that is still the hallmark of the Rolex brand today.

Photo of Rolex Founder Hans Wilsdorf Circa 1950
Rolex Founder Hans Wilsdorf Circa 1950 (photo: Rolex)
Wilsdorf founded Rolex in 1908, coming up with the name based on how it sounded and how symmetrical the lettering would look when printed on the dial of the watches. Under his leadership, the company brought several game-changing innovations to the wristwatch industry including the Oyster case and the Perpetual rotor.

In addition to the tech innovations he oversaw, Wilsdorf also brought the Rolex brand into the global spotlight by shrewdly tying his products to public figures who were breaking records of their own. World land-speed record breaker Sir Malcolm Campbell and English swimmer Mercedes Gleitze were among the first to offer testimonies about Rolex wristwatches, becoming early examples of the celebrity endorsement model that is prevalent in today's marketing landscape.

Hans Wilsdorf died in 1960, leaving his company and fortune in a trust with the stipulation that Rolex never become a public company. The company remains a private company under the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation to this day and still operates under the paradigms set forth by their founder over a century ago.


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