Antima Montres SA

It's 10 minutes to noontime and I have to be quick because come lunchtime most companies in Switzerland close for lunch. I'm about a mile from downtown Bienne and several blocks from Omega, whom I just left. Locking my bike up outside Antima's four-story headquarters I see a man walking out the door. I ask if he speaks English. "Of course", he answers. Catching Michael Firth, Operations Manager, turns out to be a big break for me as he's familiar with my letter of introduction sent a month earlier to Managing Director Jorg Bader.

Located amidst residential housing, the building was built as a home in the 1920's and added on to in the 1950's. About 30 people work here. There's no smoking in the workplace, no company cafeteria, parking isn't a problem, no formal dress code and no elevator in the place.

Antima's roots go back to 1919. Fossil, a publicly traded American company with revenues in 2002 of $660 million and 3,100 employees, bought Antima in 2001. Fossil sells mid-priced watches around the world mostly in department stores. Antima will be Fossil's first foray into manufacturing and selling Swiss-made watches. That explains why you get a "website under construction" message when typing in the website address.

Several large colorful paintings hang in Managing Director Bader's second floor corner office. I note the hardwood floor and computer. His view out the window? The parking lot and neighboring houses.
Firth hails from Richardson, Texas where Fossil is headquartered. It's been quite a cultural and lifestyle change for him and his wife, who also works here. Their commute time from home to work is a mere two-minute walk. Try doing that in sprawling and spread-out Richardson, Texas.