An Ex-Banker Finds Success in Gems
GENEVA — For those who’ve by no means heard of the enterprise known as Salanitro, that’s simply as Pierre Salanitro would have it.
On the outskirts of Geneva, the identify doesn’t seem on the roadway signal itemizing the enterprises (together with two chocolate producers, this being Switzerland) that occupy a close-by workplace constructing. Salanitro is just not on the constructing’s listing, and even on the door to Mr. Salanitro’s workplace. There’s solely his brand, a collection of circles inside a circle, a illustration of the disc with varied sized indentations used to calibrate the scale of gems.
That’s despite the fact that, as Mr. Salanitro stated, he’s “thought of crucial gem setter for jeweled luxurious watches in Switzerland, absolutely, and a few individuals say I’m the most important on this planet for top jewellery watches.”
Audemars Piguet is one in every of his shoppers, and the model’s chief government, François-Henry Bennahmias, concurs: “Salanitro is one in every of Audemars Piguet’s most strategic companions, and their know-how is a reference for the entire business. Pierre and his group are doing an incredible job.”
The Salanitro group of 230 workers, together with 107 gem setters, provides the glint to the watches of Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Hublot, Zenith, Graff, Tiffany & Firm and the Unnamed Society, and people are simply the businesses that gave permission for his or her names to seem right here. The manufacturers that wouldn’t enable their names for use, and there are dozens of the perfect, are simply as illustrious.
Salanitro S.A. may very well be a business-school case research on how success may be achieved with out promotion, however by doing a superb job with ardour.
Mr. Salanitro, 56, was born and grew up in Geneva and, after graduating from enterprise college, labored in industrial banking. It was not a love match. Sooner or later within the mid Eighties, a pal recommended they meet at his father’s atelier, the place gems had been set, earlier than going to lunch.
“As I talked for a couple of minutes together with his father, I watched three gem setters at work,” Mr. Salanitro stated — then he remembers turning and asking, “When can I begin work?”
For 10 months he labored on the atelier from 5 a.m. to eight a.m., on the financial institution from 8 a.m. to five p.m., then on the atelier from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Then he give up the banking job.
However by 1988, gross sales of jeweled watches had declined sharply and the atelier wanted to cut back employees. Mr. Salanitro stated he volunteered to go as a result of “I all the time had a dream to be my very own boss.”
So with the 20,000 Swiss francs (now $21,775) that he had saved, he purchased a desk at Ikea and arrange store. The primary couple of years had been tough — he didn’t get loads of watch-related work — however there was a silver lining: “I did repairs on jewellery for Swiss firms and realized extra about gem setting.”
Then, after two years with “no holidays and no weekends, I bought fortunate,” he stated. “Piaget had an excessive amount of work” and contracted with him to choose up the slack. Ultimately different main manufacturers employed him as effectively, and, as he stated, “all doorways had been opened.” In 1999, he expanded and now producing watch parts and even meeting is a significant a part of the enterprise.
The enterprise is continuous to develop, and Mr. Salanitro expects so as to add 27 extra gem setters by summer season, which might deliver the whole quantity to 134. The corporate occupies three flooring, totaling 3,300 sq. meters (just a little greater than 35,520 sq. toes). A customer strolling by means of the ability may even see all of the levels of creating a watch: designing, metallic reducing, sprucing, meeting and, in fact, setting the ultimate product with gems.
The work requires quite a lot of equipment, such because the 3-D printers that create prototypes of components and the C.N.C. machines — the initials stand for pc numerical management — which are programmed by the corporate’s personal specialists to chop all types of parts.
“Many watch manufactures have a number of C.N.C. machines for jeweled watches,” Mr. Salanitro stated. “We’ve got 35, with two extra on the way in which.” Three groups work in eight-hour shifts from Sunday night time by means of to Saturday morning to maintain the C.N.C. manufacturing going.
Relating to the gems, some manufacturers provide their very own, whereas others depend on Salanitro to supply them. There’s a room with employees whose job is to evaluate and kind all of the gems, by coloration, reduce, measurement and weight. Correctly checked, the piles of tiny dazzling diamonds on every desktop are separated into containers the scale of small capsule containers — like 36 diamonds in a single, 360 in one other — to be set into the corresponding watches. (Mr. Salanitro has 60 large grey metallic safes to maintain such treasured supplies, in order to “not have every thing of worth in a single place.”)
There’s one room the place diamonds are reduce, and one other room the place coloured gems are reduce. “Diamonds are so onerous,” Mr. Salanitro stated, “that after they’re reduce, if the mud would get right into a machine for reducing coloured gems, it may break it.”
Again out on the ground full of white-coated gem setters, watches had been being created. On one desk was a white plastic disc bearing the 384 coloured sapphires of Hublot’s Traditional Fusion Takashi Murakami Rainbow watch, ready for the gem setter to switch them to a watch dial. At one other desk, a gem setter was putting the diamonds onto a Graff butterfly dial. At a 3rd, diamond baguettes had been being set in a gold Patek Philippe watch bracelet whereas, at one other, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak strap was getting bedazzled.
There’s one other Salanitro service that, when a model asks, turns into one of many final steps earlier than a watch is completed: All of the specs, such because the model, the reference quantity and the metallic used, are laser engraved on the again of the case.
It has taken Mr. Salanitro 32 years to get to this degree of success, though, he stated, in the event you counted all of the hours he has labored in that point “you possibly can add 10 years.”