Geneva ‘bird’s nest’ bridge named after Rolex founder

A new Geneva bridge with an unusual design was officially inaugurated on Thursday after being entirely financed by the foundation that owns the Rolex watch company.

Geneva 'bird's nest' bridge named after Rolex founder
Photo: Patrick Nouhailler

The distinctive 85-metre span with its elliptical steel truss, described as a “bird’s nest” because of its interwoven girders, crosses the Arve River, connecting the city’s Vernets and Plainpalais neighbourhoods.

The bridge is named after Hans Wilsdorf, the late founder of Rolex, who established a non-profit foundation that continues to operate the luxury watch brand.

The Hans Wilsdorf Foundation is also committed to funding charitable projects around Geneva.

In this case, it decided to fund a bridge to replace a small crossing that was built as a temporary structure by the Swiss Army in 1962.

The design was conceived by Geneva architects Brodbeck & Roulet.

The structure is held in place by 1,500 tonnes of steel and 1,500 tonnes of concrete, according to the bridge’s engineers, Amsler, Bombelli & Associates.

Built in less than three years, the project was a public-private partnership, although the Rolex owner picked up the entire tab.

The discreetly run foundation has not revealed the cost of the bridge.

The crossing provides one additional access to the Rolex headquarters, which are located in a modern glass and steel complex not far from the bridge in the Vernets neighbourhood.

Rolex’s founder Wilsdorf (1881-1960) was a Bavarian watchmaker who initially launched the Rolex brand in England after being trained in Switzerland.

During the First World War he returned to Switzerland where he developed the Rolex company and founded Tudor, a lower-priced brand of watches.

He established the Hans-Wilsdorf Foundation after the death of his wife in 1944.

With no heirs, he left all his shares in Rolex to the foundation.

View a slideshow of the bridge's construction compiled by engineers Amsler, Bombelli & Associates.

See also: City of Geneva video of the architects' plans.

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Swiss Post accused of theft after ‘losing’ an 8,000-franc Rolex watch

A Rolex watch worth 8,000 francs (€7,271, $8,676), which was purchased on a Swiss online auction site and shipped to its owner by mail, mysteriously “disappeared” somewhere between Fribourg and Sedrun (GR).

Swiss Post accused of theft after 'losing' an 8,000-franc Rolex watch

The second-hand watch was headed to a buyer in the eastern canton of Graubünden, sometimes known as Grisons in English. 

When the buyer, who had spent just over 8,000 francs (€7,271, $8,676) on the purchase, opened the box, he found that it was bare. 

“At first the shock was huge” the self-described ‘watch fan’ told Swiss media

Packed in three nested boxes, it couldn’t have fallen out, Swiss public broadcaster SRF reported.

The mystery deepened as an internal postal document revealed that 120 grams  — exactly the weight of the watch — disappeared from the package between midnight in the Frauenfeld distribution centre and 3am in the Untervaz distribution centre.

Based on this evidence, the owner suspects that a postal employee stole the watch and sent the empty package onward.

“For me that means the package was opened by human hands and the watch was removed (before) everything (was) packed up again and sent.”

However, postal service denies any wrongdoing.

“I find it extremely unfortunate that the post office is actively looking the other way, even though they have a thief in their midst”, the watch’s owner said.

“This is someone who might open parcels and steal content every day. Also from other customers.”

The postal service said they have referred the matter to cantonal police. 

The seller sent the package as ‘registered’, which means that it is insured but only up to the value of 1,500 francs (€13,63, $1,626) – less than a quarter of the value of the watch. 

A spokesperson for Ricardo, the platform through which the watch was sent, said it recommended buyers take out a higher rate of insurance or pick up the goods in person. 

“Ricardo recommends its users, especially for high-priced items, to bid only for offers with registered, ie insured, shipments or where personal pick-up with cash payment from the provider is possible,” a spokesman told 20 Minutes