I'm about four miles from downtown Neuchatel (population 40,000)
on the main road running alongside Lake Neuchatel. It's here
in this green colored, 1960's concrete slab of a building that
I find the offices for Consul and Catamaran watches. I deduce
the offices are on the second floor of the five-story structure
thanks to the visible Catamaran watch decals slapped on the exterior
of the second floor windows. However, actually getting to the
offices proves to be a 15-minute ordeal because I enter the building
and go up and down all five floors several times trying to find
the company entrance. It turns out there's a separate entrance
on the right side of the building that leads to Consul's and
Catamaran's second floor offices.
Looking at the accompanying photo note the wine vineyards to
the right of the building. Right across the street is the lakefront
with watchmaker Cartier occupying a large building.
The reception area as well as the rest of the place is dated
and looks like nothing has been done since the building was built.
The linoleum floor and tacky-looking wood paneling gives the
place a real cheap feeling. Several glass displays contain Consul
and Catamaran watches and even if the prices weren't posted next
to each watch you could tell they're lower-end watches.
It's the receptionist's very first day at work. I ask her to
check with CEO Blaise Kahr's secretary to find out who ended
up with my letter of introduction sent to Kahr a month earlier.
Kahr isn't in and his secretary, who doesn't speak English, steps
out to the lobby. The receptionist translates and in turn I'm
told Kahr's secretary knows nothing about the letter. I'm put
in a small meeting room while the secretary sees if someone has
time for me. From what I can gather there can't be very many
people working in this spartan facility. The receptionist returns
and says that if I wait someone will meet with me. It's a very
hot day (90 degrees) and after 15 minutes of waiting in a sweltering
room and not knowing how much longer, I decide to leave and check
I never make it back. Consul's roots go back to the year 1900
and established Catamaran watches in 1983. The company's website
says they have been located in Neuchatel since 1998.