[Behind the Brand - ROLEX] Hans Wilsdorf - Founder of ROLEX

Hans Wilsdorf
Timeline of Innovation & Achievement

• 1881 - Birth of Hans Wilhelm Wilsdorf was born on March 22, in Kulmach, Bavaria (which is now part of Germany) to Ferdinand and Anna Wilsdorf.

• 1905 - Hans Wilsdorf founds his first watch company with his older brother in law and names it Wilsdorf & Davis Ltd.

• 1908 - Hans Wilsdorf registers Rolex trademark name. He seeks to create a new name that is simple to remember and pronounce as well as a name that cannot be misspelled. Instead of using an existing name he makes up a name from scratch, much like Eastman did when he created the Kodak brand in 1888. Hans Wilsdorf said "With Rolex I sought to create a name that would be easy to pronounce in all European languages and could easily and elegantly grace the dial of a watch."

• 1910 - Hans Wilsdorf sends his first movement to the School of Horology in Switzerland and was awarded the world's first wrist watch Chronometer rating.

• 1912 - Hans Wilsdorf opens Wilsdorf & Davis offices in Bienne, Switzerland to facilitate movement business with Mr. Aegler.

• 1914 - The Kew Observatory in Great Britain awarded to 25mm Rolex wristwatch the first Class "A" Precision Certificate known as a Kew-A.

• 1915 - The Rolex Watch Company Ltd. is established. (Historical Note: Despite having registered the Rolex Trademark in 1908, Hans Wilsdorf did not change the company name from Wilsdorf & Davis Ltd., to the Rolex Watch Co. Ltd. until 1915. Hans Wilsdorf apparently changed the name since World War I the use of a German brand name in England became too difficult.)

• 1919 - Rolex sets up Geneva offices.

• 1920 - Montres Rolex S.A. established in Bienne, Switzerland.

• 1925 - Rolex Introduces and trademarks their now iconic Rolex logo of a 5-point crown.

• 1926 - Rolex develops and patented the Rolex Oyster; as the first air, dust and waterproof watch.

• 1927 - Mercedes Gleitze is first woman to swim the English Channel. She re-attempts to swim the English Channel a second time while wearing Rolex "Water Proof" Oyster. Hans Wilsdorf makes her the first celebrity to endorse Rolex.

• 1928 - Rolex introduced the extremely popular and stylish art-deco Rolex Prince curvex watch.

• 1931 - Rolex introduced the revolutionary Perpetual Movement; self-winding mechanism that can be found in every automatic watch.

• 1933 - Malcolm Campbell becomes first male ROLEX Ambassador.

• 1944 - Hans Wilsdorf's wife passes away, and Hans Wilsdorf establishes the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation to which he left all of his shares in Rolex.

• 1945 - Rolex DateJust (First wristwatch with the date in a magnifying window; also the introduction of the Jubilee bracelet to celebrate Rolex's 40th Anniversary also known as the Ruby Jubilee).

• 1946 The Tudor subsidiary is established.

• 1947 - Chuck Yeager is the first man to break the sound barrier while wearing his Rolex Oyster Perpetual he purchased himself.

• 1948 - Cyclops Magnifier Lens feature for easy viewing of the date developed for DateJust.

• 1953 - Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquer Mount Everest wearing Rolex Oyster Perpetuals, May 29th at 11:30am.

• 1953 - Jacques-Yves Cousteau films the documentary The Silent World in the Mediterranean wearing a Rolex Submariner prototype.

• 1953 - Rolex introduces Explorer wristwatch. Also the Turn-O-Graph was introduced as the first wristwatch with a rotating bezel.

• 1954 - Rolex formally introduces Submariner diving watch at Basel Fair Watch Trade Show in Switzerland.

• 1954 - Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady-Date created.

• 1954 - Rolex introduced the Milgauss Anti-magnetic watch for Scientists.

• 1955 - Royal Navy divers issued officially with Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches.

• 1955 - Rolex introduces the GMT Master is developed for Pan American International Airlines to make it possible for pilots to easily track two time zones

• 1956 - Rolex introduces first "anti-magnetic" watch in history [Reference 6543].

• 1956 - Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date model introduced at Basel Fair first wristwatch with a day wheel complication.

• 1960 - Rolex DEEP-SEA Special prototype wristwatch is attached to the outside of the U.S. Navy Bathyschaphe Trieste submersible which descends to an all-time record depth of 35,787 feet down into the Mariana Trench in the Challenger Deep, off of Guam in the Pacific Ocean and the watch surfaced in perfect working order. The Bathyschaphe was piloted by Donald Walsh & Jacques Piccard.


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