Ebel SA

It's a disappointing visit to Ebel, who's roots go back to 1911. Since 1999 Ebel's been part of LVMH, the French luxury goods concern.

It's a five-minute walk from downtown La Chaux-de-Fonds (population 35,000) to Ebel's four-story, 1960's concrete slab edifice. It's a mostly business area with a slew of apartment buildings nearby. Two large Ebel clocks grace the exterior near the entrance and I check to make sure they're sporting the correct time. Yep they are.

The reception area is very tiny with a single flower arrangement on a small table. I'm told they know nothing about my letter of introduction sent a month earlier to Juillaume Brochard, Managing Director. Hmm, that seems suspect. I'm grateful however as Miriam Di Ninni, Public Relations Manager, shows flexibility and agrees to answers questions.

A total of 260 employees work here and in nearby facilities. Employees are on their own in finding parking sports, smoking is allowed in the workplace, there's no formal dress code, no onsite recreational facilities and no cafeteria though there's an employee breakroom. Any employee perks? The chance to buy two watches a year at a substantial discount.

What's the workplace like? What's the view from Managing Director Brochard's second floor corner office? What do Ebel's watches look like? Don't ask me as my visit consists of the reception area and a small meeting room a few feet away.