Dubois Depraz SA

It's the end of lunchtime when I show up at Dubois Depraz's head office/factory in Le Lieu. Workers are making their way back into the building as I follow the sign and steps up to the reception counter on the second floor. The receptionist sits behind a sliding glass counter the kind used in doctor offices and the tiny waiting room area has a 1950's look to it-probably because nothing has been done to it since it was built. A corner coffee table contains books and magazines (all in French), including a large hardback book celebrating Dubois Depraz's hundredth birthday in 2001. Though the book is in French, it's neat to look at the photographs-some showing this site's transformation over the years.

Dubois Depraz designs and develops movement parts for complicated watches. It also does contract work to assemble watches for some of the world's best known luxury brands. How am I so sure about the last statement? Managing Director Jean-Philippe Dubois told me so himself about four years ago. What? About four years ago I made a fun sidetrip through the Joux valley, which included circumventing Lake de Joux. It was sometime in August and as I cycled through the village of Le Lieu I stopped near Dubois Depraz's head office to fill my water bottle at a water trough fountain across the street. In a village this small just about any kind of structure would stick out let alone a several building complex located on the main drag. Curious (ok-more like nosy), I walked into the building to learn what the company did or made. As luck would have it the first person I ran into was Jean-Philippe Dubois, Managing Director-whose family contributed half of the company's current name (there was a Mr. Dubois and a Mr. Depraz). He ended up giving me a tour of the place-including the factory located in the three-story red, white and bluish-colored annex built in 1996. About 160 people work here.

Well, it looks like I won't be having a reunion with Dubois as the receptionist delivers the disappointing news; Dubois is tied up the rest of the day with a client. Ah, that explains the big black Mercedes with Geneva plates parked in the visitor's parking area.