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London, 1908: A double-decker slowly makes its way through the heavy traffic on Cheapside. Even then, traffic jams were the order of the day on this important road, which connects London’s West End with the East End and crosses the metropolis’s commercial center. Today you would hop on the Central Line for one stop, from St Paul’s to Bank Station.

Undeterred, two horses pull the bus carriage past literary locations. Shakespeare mentioned Cheapside in Henry IV, Jane Austen mentioned it in Pride and Prejudice, and Charles Dickens once described the road as “one of the busiest routes in the world.” At least one of the passengers on the upper deck is not giving books a thought: Hans Wilsdorf. He doggedly formulates and rejects one brand name after the next. At some point on this trip, a word comes to mind that will continue to shape watch history to this day: Rolex.

A proud 30 percent market share, an estimated annual turnover of 9.3 billion francs with around a million models sold and an awareness level of over 90 percent – its founder could not have predicted this phenomenal rise to “super brand” when he had a flash of inspiration 115 years ago. Hardly any watch today emphasizes the status of its wearer more strongly. It was a long time ago that the brand’s golden models in particular were celebrated in red light circles in the 80s and 90s – with a fur coat on top! Today, the factory inspires a wide variety of target groups: top managers from Frankfurt as well as rappers in L.A., crypto bros in Hong Kong and students in Helsinki.

Hardly anyone thinks of Kulmbach when it comes to the luxury brand with the crown. A city through which, depending on the wind direction, a hoppy, malty smell wafts through to this day and which greets its visitors at the train station with a view of the beer crate towers of the Kulmbacher Beer Group. The cradle of Mr. Rolex stood here.

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