Rolex’s position is tied to Hans Wilsdorf, the founder and pioneer in creating water resistance, automatic winding… for wristwatches.
The Rolex brand is associated with expensive and classy watches. This leading position has never been shaken in the past 100 years. Forbes magazine ranked Rolex as one of the most valuable brands in 2016, and the world’s leading luxury watch company. Although sales are not announced, experts estimate Rolex sells one million watches a year.

Rolex’s success is thanks to Hans Wilsdorf, its founder and the brain behind many innovations in wristwatches, establishing a pioneering position for this more than a century-old brand.

Born in Germany in 1881, Hans had a rough childhood. Losing his parents when he was only 12 years old, he and his siblings lived under the protection of relatives. After graduating from university, Hans worked for a company specializing in pearl supply and learned his first lessons about commerce and development strategy.

Although he cannot explain it, Hans has a passion for Switzerland. The dream of establishing a watch company was rekindled in the young man when he moved to work for the watch export company Cuno Korten, which often imported components from Germany, France and Switzerland.

At that time, wristwatches were still quite strange to many people, because the product’s accuracy was not high. But that made the young man even more excited and wanted to create wristwatches that not only kept time but also had elegant designs.

In 1903, Hans decided to go to London, England to live and work for a watch manufacturing company, nurturing the dream of opening his own business one day. Fate helped him meet Alfred James Davis, who had the financial means to make his dream come true. They co-founded a company specializing in distributing watches in 1905, when Hans was only 24 years old.

To convince British consumers to use the company’s products, Hans uses the smallest components imported from a company in Bienne, Switzerland, which is famous for its detail and precision for creativity. Create your own watch model. Coming up with the name Rolex was a day of restless thinking for Hans, because he wanted the brand name to be short, easy to say and remember in any language, and at the same time represent the characteristics of a watch. “I tried combining letter combinations in every possible way, with hundreds of names, but to little satisfaction. Until one morning, while sitting in a carriage, it was as if a voice whispered in my ear: Rolex,” he recalled.

The most important thing for a watch is absolute time accuracy. That is also the first factor that Hans pays special attention to in his products. Every movement, every small component is meticulously machined. In 1910, Rolex was the first wristwatch company in the world to receive a certificate of accuracy from the Swiss Watch Evaluation Center. Since then, this brand has been associated with reliability and accuracy.

9 years later, Hans moved the company headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland, a place famous for its watchmaking. This turning point opened up a series of continuous creations and innovations, leading to the first features for wristwatches. “I want to create a watch that anyone can wear every day without having to take it off,” the founder shared his vision. Not wanting users to experience inconvenience when living or swimming, he researched waterproof features for his products. In 1926, the world’s first waterproof watch called the Oyster was born, equipped with a sealed case to optimally protect the small components inside.

Hans also used an effective promotion strategy for this new feature when female swimmer Mercedes Gleitze brought her watch to swim across the English Channel for 10 hours. And at the end of the swim, the watch still maintained normal operation.

The year 1931 continued to mark a revolution created by Rolex with the first watch with a self-winding feature, opening the door to the later trend of automatic watches. Hans takes advantage of every opportunity to both promote and demonstrate the features of Rolex watches, and receive comments to perfect it.

His smart strategy is for athletes, adventurers, pilots or sports car racers to use watches to test and demonstrate properties and functions in many different environmental conditions. music, especially in harsh terrain. It can be said that not only is he rich in ideas about watch design, the famous businessman is also sharp in product advertising plans. During World War II, when he learned that pilots in the air force used Rolex watches but had them confiscated, he offered to give them new ones for free.

Not satisfied with what has been achieved, the ambitious founder continues to create new features. In 1945, a watch model called Datejust continued to mark Rolex’s pioneering position in creating a trend by adding a part on the watch face to indicate the date. Although the original target was for men, with its genderless beauty and elegant, luxurious design, Rolex gradually became popular with women in the following decades.

Hans Wilsdorf died in 1960, but his mottos and love of constant creativity and innovation were inherited by subsequent generations of executives. The company still regularly researches, improves and introduces new product lines to the market. And in the hearts of consumers, Rolex watches are always associated with beauty, luxury, sophistication and enduring vitality over time.

“We want to be a pioneer in this field. Rolex must be considered the first, only and best”, Hans Wilsdorf’s famous quote has become the motto of the famous watch company to this day.

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