Montres Consul/Montres Catamaran

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 back later.

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.