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In Switzerland, Seeing The place the Watch Magic Occurs

In Switzerland, Seeing The place the Watch Magic Occurs

In Switzerland, Seeing Where the Watch Magic Happens

GENEVA — Anybody who loves watches, collects watches or is solely serious about watches needs to do one factor: go to a spot the place watches are made and see one as it’s being created.

That isn’t at all times really easy.

The “manufacture” — because the ateliers or factories are known as in Switzerland, a.okay.a. watch central — are as busy producing their wares as any office can be. Plus, within the extremely aggressive luxurious watch market, there is also a sense of wanting to take care of privateness, of defending the best way corporations do what they do.

Whereas it isn’t widespread for a watch firm to open its doorways to the curious until they’re Very V.I.P. prospects, some manufacturers have created experiences corresponding to guided excursions and workshops that enable the general public to take a look. However they aren’t a Disneyland for watch followers, and a few require a protracted drive from a significant metropolis.

For instance, Zenith provides reservation-only excursions as soon as per week in Le Locle, within the Jura Mountains, about 150 kilometers, or 93 miles, northeast of Geneva. Within the Vallée de Joux, close to the border with France, Jaeger-LeCoultre provides workshops at its Atelier d’Antoine at its headquarters in Le Sentier, as does Audemars Piguet in its Musée Atelier in Le Brassus. Vacheron Constantin and F.P. Journe additionally enable visits to their extra Geneva-centric operations, however solely to folks they take into account probably the most ardent, and acquisitive, of shoppers.

One other model — Roger Dubuis, identified for its high-end watches, usually skeletonized and sometimes in collaboration with luxurious automobile manufacturers — not too long ago opened its doorways in Meyrin, on the outskirts of Geneva, to a journalist and a photographer who had been greeted by what it calls its “manufacture ambassador,” Francesca Stellino.

Her job is to welcome guests who’ve been advisable by a watch boutique (she conducts excursions in English, French and Italian) and present them how Roger Dubuis does what it does.

She started the tour in a hallway, in entrance of a poster with the corporate’s star-shaped brand, and talked about how the watchmaker Roger Dubuis began the model in 1995 and championed collaborations with Pirelli tires and Lamborghini automobiles.

She defined that she was beginning the tour there as a result of, she warned, as soon as we handed by way of a set of heavy doorways onto the manufacturing unit flooring we’d have bother listening to her. And he or she was proper.

The doorways opened to a flooring full of dozens of massive metallic machines making a racket. They had been getting used to create elements, as many as 360, that go into making a Roger Dubuis watch. Contemplating that the model says it produces as many as 3,000 watches a 12 months, that’s a number of urgent, reducing, milling, submitting and sprucing.At factors all through the method, elements had been washed in what Ms. Stellino known as, no shock, the “washing room.” What went on inside resembled the motion behind a fast-food counter, with elements dropped into wire baskets and dipped into liquids, like baskets of French fries being lowered into oil.

Subsequent step was within the “rodage et tribofinition” room, the place elements had been polished utilizing an opulent exfoliant — cleaning soap with diamond powder. Again on the principle manufacturing unit flooring, we handed a storage cupboard that regarded like a floor-to-ceiling wine rack full of a whole lot of metallic rods of varied widths. They had been destined to be was items like “pinions, screws and wheels,” Ms. Stellino mentioned. The three-meter-long (10-foot) metallic cylinder that varieties these is known as the décolletage. As soon as the rods are reduce, among the spherical discs that consequence are run by way of a distinct machine that creates tiny enamel round their circumference that can ultimately have interaction a watch’s gears.

Ms. Stellino stopped in entrance of a machine so outdated that among the orange paint protecting its floor had chipped away. “It’s the mom of micromechanics,” she mentioned, used to chop “among the loopy elements of Roger Dubuis watches, just like the hammers that produce the sound of the minute repeater.”

As soon as the items are produced, they head to different, quieter workrooms, and into the palms of artisans, female and male, younger and mature. Extra sprucing is so as, even on the tiniest of items, and it’s performed in one in all a number of methods, utilizing pastes or probably the most refined of sandpapers. Polishers require a “minimal of 10 years’ expertise,” Ms. Stellino defined. “They work with their eyes and their ears,” listening for the actual sound that tells them that the sprucing is true.

One of many staff is the corporate’s professional in sprucing tourbillon cages till they shine like a black mirror, the “poli noir” or the black polish end that, Ms. Stellino mentioned, “was Mr. Dubuis’ favourite.”

Cameras zeroed in on among the work the artisans had been doing and magnified it on screens across the workrooms so guests might see precisely what was being performed.Subsequent, we headed to the ground the place the elements are assembled and was watches, and likewise the place shoppers’ watches with problems are serviced. However first we placed on white lab coats and lined our footwear with blue plastic bootees that regarded like bathe caps, the higher to maintain us from monitoring in dust and mud. As soon as once more, we opened a set of heavy doorways, however this time it was to a sanctuary of quiet focus.

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Right here, dozens of watchmakers, many carrying magnifying glasses or goggles, had been seated at desks and overseeing facets of assembling timepieces. The work is so detailed, so exact, so exacting, that one watchmaker, placing collectively a minute repeater, equated it to being “like open-heart surgical procedure.”

A watch within the making right here undergoes quality-control checks all alongside its approach into the world. As soon as all it wants is a strap and buckle, it goes right into a machine labeled “Cyclo 5” that has wheels to check it for a whole week in all of the positions a human wrist would possibly make. If, on the finish, the watch’s time is off by lower than a minute, it will get the valued Poinçon de Genève or Geneva seal.

“A watch is a bit of artwork,” Ms. Stellino mentioned because the tour concluded, and like a bit of artwork, the newest fashions had been on show underneath bell jars positioned on pedestals. Some fashions had but to be revealed publicly, and supplied an extra insider’s view into the world of watches.

Nicola Andreatta, chief govt of Roger Dubuis, mentioned the visits are “a giant a part of our shopper expertise.

“When folks come and see what we do, their notion adjustments,” he continued. “It provides worth.”

Usually, guests must organize a tour by way of their native Dubuis seller or watch boutique. The model mentioned it has been welcoming a whole lot of individuals annually, together with collectors and members of varied golf equipment, and projected that the tally will attain 200 this 12 months.

After spending on common of 1 hour quarter-hour seeing all of the watchmakers, all of the machines, all of the instruments, the experience and the “ardour” that goes into making their watches, folks perceive why they value tens of hundreds, generally a whole lot of hundreds, of {dollars}, Mr. Andreatta mentioned.

They might by no means take a look at the watch on their wrist in fairly the identical approach once more.

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