Hans Wilsdorf set about establishing his own business in 1905. He borrowed some money from his brother and sister and was introduced by his solicitors to Alfred James Davis, who wished to invest some money. They founded Wilsdorf and Davis on 22 June 1905 as equal partners at 83 Hatton Gardens, London.
Wilsdorf imported a wide range of watches to be sold at varying price points. In 1905 he placed a large order for wristwatches with Aeglar, a company he was aware of from his time working in La Chaux-de-Fonds. These were Wilsdorfs top of the range items. When the Rolex name was introduced it was reserved for Aegler lever watches. Wilsdorf also introduced lower quality cylindrical movement which were commonly found in early examples.
In 1908 Wilsdorf settled upon the name Rolex which was seen as short, sharp and pronounceable regardless of language or accent. He requested Aegler use this trademark on his watches, to which they reluctantly agreed. Aegler also supplied movements to Gruen in the US amongst others.
Aegler Rebberg movements were found in Rolex watches produced by Hans Wilsdorf. This example will have been manufactured, cased and exported from Aegler in Switzerland, for Wilsdorf to retail in the UK. It has the Xi case mark for Aegler.
Later, these movements have Rolex 15 Jewels on the ratchet wheel as they were clearly proud of these movements. This calibre was used in the earliest Rolex wrist watches around this time. These early examples still have no Rolex signing, but do have W&D signed on the movement as well as case, which is very uncommon due to the transitional nature.
Just as this watch is an interesting transitional piece in the Wilsdorf and Rolex story, it is also a transitional piece in terms of how it was worn.
The idea of strapping a watch to the wrist, as opposed to pulling it out of a pocket, meant that time keeping could be quicker and easier on horseback or in other combat situations. The wristlet was the tool to do this. These began to appear in the late 1800s, early 1900s. They were also popular amongst cyclists as a practical way to carry a watch so that it was visible without removing the hands from the handlebars.
For sale we have a 1910 W&D Hans Wilsdorf, early Rolex, 15 jewel Aegler Rebberg movement Silver Fob watch. It is contained within its original, fitted leather strap/holder, making this a transitional wristlet. It is a rare and early good quality piece from Hans Wilsdorf, whilst it also has an excellent movement, which went on to be fitted within early Rolex wrist watches. It has been recently serviced.
The wristlet measures 41mm wide x 44.5mm in length. The strap section has a width of 11mm. The fob watch inside has a measurement of 30.5mm x 30.5mm, with a total length including loop of 43mm.
The wristlet leather is good for its age, hard to the central protective holder, with a soft strap section with its original buckle. There is some separation of the strap which can be repaired if desired.
The fob case is of open face design and is formed of silver. It has a simple loop with crown to the top, with a double hinged case back which closes neatly. The inside of the case back is stamped with British hallmarking for sterling silver from London assay office, with Wilsdorf maker mark and Aegler Maker mark. The serial number matches between the two inner case backs.
The classic white enamel dial is original with Arabic numeral hour markers in a black tone, with a gold tone dot and diamond minute plots. The sub-second dial has 10 second graduations in Arabic numerals, with a total of 60 second graduation. The hands are original. They are of Spade and whip style and have a thermally blued tone.
The movement is a good quality 15 jewel Rebberg calibre from Aegler. This movement went on to feature in early Rolex wrist watches.
The movement has been recently serviced and is keeping time to within + 2 minutes a day which is very acceptable for its age.
Please see the images as these compliment the condition description provided below.
The classic white enamel dial is original and is in good condition for its age. It has some hairline fractures. It has Arabic numeral hour markers in a black tone, with a gold tone dot and diamond minute plots. The sub-second dial has 10 second graduations in Arabic numerals, with a total of 60 second graduation.
The hands are original. They are of Spade and whip style. They have a thermally blued finish which has some darker tarnished areas and some scratches to the finish.
The crystal appears to be original and is in good condition.
The loop is formed of silver and is original, in good condition.
The case is formed of silver and is in very good overall condition. There is no denting to the front section or the sides. There is some slight tarnishing as expected with age.
The case back is formed of silver and is in good original condition, with light surface scratching and some tarnishing.
Inside of caseback:
The inside of the case back has light surface scratching associated with age. It is stamped with British hallmarking for sterling silver from London assay office, with Wilsdorf maker mark and Aegler Maker mark. It closes tightly and securely and has a good hinge at a 90-degree angle.
Inner case back:
Light surface scratching associated with age. The inside has British hallmarking the same as the outer case back with matching serial number.
The movement is a 15 jewel Rebberg calibre from Aegler. It has been recently serviced and is in good cosmetic condition. It keeps time to within + 2 minutes a day which is very acceptable for its age.
Fob Case dimensions:
Case width: 30.5mm
Case length: 30.5mm
Case length with crown: 38.5mm
Case length with loop: 43mm
Case Depth: 9.5mm
Strap width: 11mm
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