Local History

Biel, Rolex. Foto/Photo: TES

Rolex and Biel

The family business Aegler, founded in 1878 in Biel, was in the period 1890-1895 a large watch factory that specialised in small ladies’ watches.

Hans Wilsdorf, a Swiss who worked in England, bought small watches from Aegler to make wristwatches.

This collaboration resulted in the world-famous ROLEX watch. In 1919 Wilsdorf established the company in Geneva. Since then, the company structure has been based on the branches in Geneva and Biel.

Rolex SA in Geneva, the headquarters, is a worldwide commercial centre. The ROLEX factory in Biel is the centre of manufacturing.

The watch industry was the driving force behind the city’s rapid development in the 19th and 20th centuries after the closure of the Indienne textile production in 1842.
The French language, already present in the city, became the second language by the immigration of a few thousand watchmakers from the Jura.

Biel is a multifaceted cultural and industrial city nowadays. ROLEX, however, remains the world-famous industrial production (alongside OMEGA, for example).

(Source: New Museum Biel).