I was thumbing through some high-end magazines and came across
several ads for Sacar watches. I had never heard of Sacar but
the watches looked spiffy and cost a pretty penny ($20,000) so
I added the company onto my list.
About a mile from Geneva's city center I find the three-story
villa housing Sacar. It's an old rundown villa in dire need of
sprucing up inside and out. The grounds could use lots of help
also. Could this be the place that produces those elegant watches
Walking in I have to maneuver between not one or two but three
dogs. The last one is HUGE, looking to be some kind of cousin
to the St. Bernard. The big dog seems harmless but he also looks
old which makes them pretty unpredictable.
It looks more like someone's house than an office. An elderly
woman walks by without saying anything. I'm still not sure where
to go especially with that big dog staring at me intently. Nazli
Bahadori comes along and asks what I want. She has no title but
says she has been helping out here for years. Bahadori answers
my questions (she's wearing a Swatch watch).
Part of this villa is rented out to other tenants. A total of
six employees work here. "This isn't where the watches are
made?" I ask in disbelief. "Yes", she answers.
As we speak I notice a tray of about 20 watches on her desk.
I ask, "What do those watches sell for?" "$2,000
each", she answers. "Those are put together here on
the premises?" "Yes", she answers.
I don't know how to say this nicely but, if you saw the ads for
those watches and then saw this somewhat down in the dumps villa,
you'd never put the two together.
I ask if I can see the CEO's office. Bahadori walks me over to
a room that I assume was formerly the living room. Over the fireplace
are maybe a dozen or so small gold figurines. Then, I see something
that really catches my eye. It's some kind of speech in French
in a small frame over the fireplace. I recognize one word: Gettysburg.
Holy Moly! it's Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg's Address. Just
then, that tiny elderly woman I saw earlier walks in. It turns
out she's the CEO. Paulette Sarzano (79 years old) took over
the company after her husband passed away years ago. This explains
a lot. This is her home.