Hans Wilsdorf was born on March 22, 1881 in Kulmbach (Franconia) and died on July 6, 1960 at his summer residence “Escale – Fleurie”. His parents, Johann Daniel Ferdinand Wilsdorf, née. on 29.09.1846 in Kulmbach and his mother, Anna Maisel, née on July 25, 1855 in Obernsees, were the owners of today’s Heinlein ironmongers in Kulmbach.

Hans Wilsdorf had 2 siblings, Karl Wilsdorf born. on 18.06.1879 and Anna Wilsdorf, née on 10.09.1882, both were born in Kulmbach.

At the age of 12, Hans Wilsdorf became an orphan. His mother died at the age of 36 on 27.03.1892 in Kulmbach and his father shortly afterwards on 16.10.1893 at the age of 47 in Bayreuth.

Anna Wilsdorf’s grandson, H.H. Kübel, was Marketing Director of the world-famous company for many years.

After the death of his parents, Hans Wilsdorf met a young Swiss man at his boarding school in Coburg, through whose mediation he came to La Chaux-de-Fonds at the age of 19, where he discovered the watch industry, his passion and vocation.

In 1903, at the age of 24, Hans Wilsdorf went to London as a watch importer for the Swiss watch manufacturer Aegler, based in Briel, to take up sales for the company. (until the merger of the two companies Rolex Geneva and Rolex Briel, the latter was owned by the Aegler and Borer families).

That’s probably where it all began and the foundation stone for a “never-ending story” was laid.

Hans Wilsdorf founded his first company with case maker Alfred James Davis, “Wilsdorf & Davis”, in London in 1905 and launched the first wristwatch on the market. He did this at a time when the pocket watch absolutely dominated the watch market and no one would ever have given a second thought to wearing a watch on their wrist. Davis built the cases and Wilsdorf provided the movements.

Hans Wilsdorf was the pioneer who introduced the world’s first wristwatch.
He built up his watch empire “step by step” and developed his brand into the most innovative and leading watch brand in the world.

Since the introduction of the wristwatch, precision, perfection and research have been the golden rule at Rolex.

Hans Wilsdorf is the inventor of the waterproof and self-winding wristwatch with a rotor.
(Emile Borer developed the self-winding mechanism at Hans Wilsdorf’s request)

The Rolex “Oyster Perpetual” we all know is one of the best watches in the world. This watch set the trend for all manufacturers of waterproof and automatic watches.

The pursuit of perfection is a Rolex tradition that the founder, Hans Wilsdorf, began at the beginning of the last century and which is still practiced by Rolex today.
He recognized very early on the need for a sophisticated watch built to the highest standards of accuracy and durability.

After the death of his wife, Hans Wilsdorf decided to transfer his life’s work to the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation.
Hans Wilsdorf had no children.