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21st century Rolex manufactory opens in Bienne

by Philip Kaspar
18 October, 2012
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About the author

Philip is widely travelled and has worked as a freelance journalist covering several topics including fashion, travel and watches. He also spent five years in the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry in La Chaux de Fonds. Philip reports on all the latest watch news and is our WatchCrime reporter.

New Rolex building

High tech dedicated watch buildings are springing up everywhere. Recently Saxony watchmakers A. Lange & Sohne and Glashutte Original launched impressive new wings to increase productivity now Rolex has inaugurated a stunning new building at its watch movement production facility in Bienne. After the traditional ribbon cutting, guests and journalists toured the brand’s new movement production workshops where high-value-added manual watchmaking know-how is combined with highly advanced technology.

The new building is one of the most ambitious industrial projects in recent years in Switzerland, and will enable Rolex to rationalise production of its watch movements. Movement manufacturing has been brought together on a single ultra-modern 400,000 m3 site – of which the new building occupies 230,000 m3 – over a total area of 92,000 m2.

With its exceptional performance in terms of productivity, employee comfort and respect for the environment, the Bienne production site sets a new standard in watch manufacturing.

A new era for Rolex

Rolex building

Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann underlined the importance of Rolex as an ambassador of Swiss quality and expertise throughout the world: “With its significant investment in its new production facility, Rolex is signaling that, even with the difficult world economic climate, Switzerland remains a first-class manufacturing location.”

Production entirely mastered in-house

Rolex building view

The new building in Bienne is the result of a strategy Rolex adopted over 10 years ago with the aim of integrating production of all the essential components for its watches – from the case to the movement, from the dial to the bracelet – on four purpose-built or remodelled sites, three in Geneva and one in Bienne. It’s a strategy designed to ensure autonomous manufacturing

Industrial efficiency

Rolex building warehousing

The new facilities include an impressive fully automated stocking system. It provides more than 46,000 compartments for safe storage of components and finished products, and transports items rapidly to the production workshops via 22 stations and over 1.2 km of rails across the site.

The building’s architecture is sleek and sophisticate with vast space and good natural daylight thanks to light wells inspired by a watch movement. The new complex also includes a large company restaurant with panoramic views and several relaxation areas for employees.

Environmental considerations

Rolex building interior

The new building in Bienne complies with the Swiss Minergie® sustainable building standard, which is exceptional for a building of this size. The building is distinguished by a rational use of energy, the adoption of renewable energies and a high degree of integration between industrial processes and the building’s technical systems.

More than 2,000 people work at Rolex’s site in Bienne and more than 4,000 work in Geneva, where the brand’s world headquarters is located.

 

Philip Kaspar | Website

Philip is widely travelled and has worked as a freelance journalist covering several topics including fashion, travel and watches. He also spent five years in the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry in La Chaux de Fonds. Philip reports on all the latest watch news and is our WatchCrime reporter.

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