Wow, Blancpain really likes keeping their head office under wraps.
No signs are visible on the exterior of the four-story structure.
A massive steel door painted brown with a small glass porthole
greets people trying to enter the building. The formidable-looking
entrance gives nary a clue as to the building's occupant with
no name listed next to the doorbell. There's no name listed on
the mailbox because there isn't even a receptacle for mail. It's
not until I stand on my tiptoes and peer through the glass porthole
and see a Blancpain watch display inside that I know this is
A block away lies the lakefront of Lake Geneva. Three miles away
from here will bring you to Lausanne's (population 120,000) city
center. However, Blancpain isn't located in Lausanne but in Paudex
and Pully, adjacent lakefront towns. In the photo accompanying
this story you see the four-story light yellow-colored head office
building. Near the bottom of the photo there's a fence. The fence
runs alongside a small creek. The head office is in Paudex. However,
I took the photo from the company's other four-story building
(who's exterior is also void of any identifying names) located
less than a hundred yards away but in neighboring Pully thanks
to the creek being the official dividing line between the two
After being buzzed into the building and checking in with the
receptionist I'm soon meeting with Nicoletta Merlin, part-time
assistant to CEO Marc Hayek. My questions are answered as we
sit in one of the three meeting rooms. Two of the rooms are named
after towns Blancpain has/had facilities: Villeret and Le Brassus.
Lake Geneva is also known as Lac Leman and that's why Leman is
the name of the third meeting room.
A total of about 60 people work in the two buildings. Merlin
isn't sure when the main building was built but says Blancpain
has occupied it for at least 10 years. The immediate area is
surrounded mostly by apartment buildings. Parking is scarce but
employees can park several blocks way in a public parking lot
next to a lakefront public swimming pool complex. Though there're
no onsite recreational facilities Merlin says in the summer one
can stroll down to the lake or public pool for a swim.
Smoking is allowed in offices (CEO Hayek is a smoker), it's 35
minutes by train to Geneva's airport, there's no formal dress
code and no company cafeteria though there's a break room area
(microwave) with a table for sitting outside in the other building.
Any employee perks? Being part of the Swatch Group allows employees
to purchase watches at a discount from any of the various Swatch
CEO Hayek occupies a second floor middle office. The walls are
beige, the furniture black along with a brown parquet floor.
Nothing hangs on the walls, note the laptop computer and lack
of any personal nik-naks or watch paraphernalia. The view out
his window? A row of a half-dozen towering pine trees located
only a few feet from his window block what would otherwise be
a great view of Lake Geneva.