It's a very hot and muggy morning as I make my way up the steep
road leading to Christophe Claret. It's made even more difficult
thanks to the shampoo I bought the night before. The shampoo
bottle was festooned with pictures of nectarines and of course
it smelled like nectarines. It's not until today when riding
up the hill that I realize it smells good to flies and other
assorted flying pests as I'm attacked from all sides.
Claret manufacturers and supplies watch movements to the watch
industry. We're not talking about ordinary watch movements but
the kind found in high-end watches such mechanisms with magic
chimes, automations, tourbillons and split seconds chronographs
with lifting-levers. CEO Christophe Claret founded the company
in nearby Le Chaux-de-Fonds in 1989 and moved here to Le Locle
Le Locle (population 10,400) lies in a small and narrow valley.
The town itself is situated on the valley floor but its steep
hillsides are home to many of its residences. It's here in a
former mansion built in the 1860's that Claret has its head office/factory.
Situated on lush tree-filled piece of property the three-story
mansion is a real beauty. It looks like the former parking garage
behind the mansion was demolished and in its place discreetly
stands a new one-story concrete and glass structure-maybe the
size of an eight car garage.
Entering the mansion my eyes widen as I marvel at the carved
woodwork, cherrywood parquet flooring and stained glass windows.
I make my way to the reception desk and ask to speak to Christophe
Claret's secretary. The woman says she's his assistant. I explain
how I sent a letter of introduction a month ago and wanted to
find out who ended up with the letter. Oh oh, she knows nothing
about the letter and CEO Claret isn't in. I ask if she opens
his mail. "No", she answers. I ask if someone has a
few minutes to answer questions about the head office. "What
kind of questions? she asks. I give sample questions. I then
have her check out my website on her computer as well as showing
her several write-ups I've had in Swiss newspapers. "No,
it isn't possible", she says. I explain how this is a one-time
only visit for me. It falls on deaf ears. I ask, "Could
my letter be on Mr. Claret's desk and he just hasn't told you
about my pending visit? Could you check?" "No",
What a disappointment. Sending out the letters.