Rolex is one of the most secretive companies in the world.
It turns out that founder Hans Wilsdorf left some very specific instructions concerning a tiny church in Geneva, Switzerland before he died.
The church in question, the English Church of the Holy Trinity, has a clock that has been ticking for 147 years.
Downing discovered through the church’s secretary that it was Rolex that maintained the clock; a representative from the company comes to wind it every Wednesday morning.
Downing tried to ask the Rolex technician who performed the service — one Antonio Garcia — what the deal was. But Garcia could only reveal that it was a free and exclusive service provided by the legendary watch brand — a service started way before his time.
Church records stated that they stopped paying for a watch winder in 1940. Wilsdorf died in 1960, so it must have been around that time that he decreed the clock be kept in good order by his company.
Wilsdorf was a member of the congregation of the church while he lived in Geneva. He likely adopted his faith during his time in London in his early years of watchmaking.
Downing tried to ask Rolex why exactly why the church clock was still on Rolex’s to-do list, but he was completely stonewalled. No surprise there. However, reaching out to the charity that owns Rolex, The Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, was learned a bit.
Here’s the response Downing got: “It is in keeping with Hans Wilsdorf’s personal wishes that the English church clock is maintained by Rolex,” said the foundation representative.
“For how long?” asked downing.
“Forever, I suppose,” came the reply.
Read the rest of the story in Watch Around.
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