A Crown for Every Achievement

At the turn of the 20th century, a visionary entrepreneur based in London was on the verge of success. His aim? To introduce the watchmaking world of the day to an as-yet-unknown dial signature: Rolex. A new name, invented in 1908, it would become one of the world’s most respected brands in the space of a few decades. As Hans Wilsdorf recounted in his memoirs of the early days of his company, the opposition he faced seemed insurmountable at first.

The entrepreneur started out with very little, but he did possess invaluable qualities: vision, hope for the future, perseverance and an extraordinary ability to work. An orphan at the age of 12, with nothing other than his determination to help him overcome challenges, Hans Wilsdorf went on to invent the world’s first waterproof self-winding wristwatch with a Perpetual rotor – a watch that has become a benchmark in terms of quality and prestige.

“Too complicated, too fragile, ill-adapted” – the wristwatch was met with scepticism in Edwardian England, then the sporting country par excellence. Yet, relying on his intuition, firmly-held beliefs and determination to push boundaries, Hans Wilsdorf managed to achieve his bold objective of establishing the Rolex watch – the Oyster Perpetual – as the archetype of the waterproof timepiece: precise, robust and able to withstand all conditions.

But Hans Wilsdorf was not simply a visionary who, through his watchmaking knowledge, spirit of enterprise and ability to think differently, endowed Rolex watches with their fundamental technical and aesthetic characteristics and set the way for his company’s long-lasting success. His constant quest for perfection was accompanied by a profound generosity and unshakeable faith in human potential – in our capacity to both innovate and overcome difficulties. Hans Wilsdorf was a compassionate man always prepared to challenge himself and who encouraged others to give their all.

Draw from traditions to drive innovation. Push back the limits to inspire. These convictions enabled Rolex to create an exceptional product – a watch that brings together considerable expertise and has accompanied a great many human adventures in widely diverse fields.

Today, Hans Wilsdorf’s legacy goes on and on – perpetually – just like his self-winding watches, as he made sure that the proceeds from Rolex would be used as a continuing investment in future generations.

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