I'm about four miles from Geneva's city center in a mixed-use
area. In front of me stands an unassuming five-story, 1960's
building who's front is painted a pale blue. The storefront of
a furniture retailer occupies most of the ground floor. It's
up to the top floor I go to visit Frederique Constant.
It's only eight in
the morning but I've been finding the watch industry to be a
bunch of early birds when it comes to starting work. Yep, the
front door is open as I enter the very large room. Calling it
a warehouse-size room would be more appropriate. Other than the
two women helping me at the reception counter the only other
person visible is a man sitting in a glassed-in room at the far
side of the floor. I explain what I do to the receptionist and
how I sent a letter of introduction six weeks earlier to Managing
Director Peter Stas. Matter of fact, I dropped by here last week
and was told to come back as Stas wasn't in. This time I'm in
luck as Stas turns out to be the man in the glassed-in room and,
he has time to meet with me. Why is he here at 8AM when most
of the others don't arrive until 9AM? Is it to have quiet time
to get work done? Set an example to employees? Avoid rush hour
traffic? Nope, Stas gets out and about early due to being in
charge of dropping his kids off at school.
Twenty-two people work here with the company occupying one floor.
The building is a lot deeper and bigger than it looks from the
street. Employee parking is plentiful, smoking in the workplace
is prohibited and there's a break room but no company cafeteria.
It's six miles to Geneva's airport, a half-mile to the nearest
freeway, there's no dress code and, the Swiss/French border lies
less than a half mile away. Initially I thought this location
was somewhat out of the watch loop but less than two blocks away
Rolex has a large modern factory building. Any employee perks?
A substantial discount (75%) off on watches.
Nothing fancy about the décor in Stas' plainly furnished
corner office. I don't see any plants, note the desktop computer,
picture of his wife and, the large number of watches scattered
about. On the wall behind his desk hangs a large oil portrait
of his great-grandfather Constant Stas (1880-1967). The view
out the window? Great panorama of the nearby Jura Mountains.