Leschot S.A.

Wow, the Leschot's name and family involvement in watches and clocks dates back to 1597. Leschot S.A. comes into being in 1948 and according to the company's website manufactures tourbillon watches as well as components for watches, watch movements and aircraft precision instruments. Leschot employs over 2,500 people with 30 in Switzerland.

The three-story yellow with white trim building is tucked away between a large forested public park and part of the University of Neuchatel campus. It lies about three miles from downtown Neuchatel on a steep hillside.

Walking into the building finds nary a soul in sight and no information on where to go for visitors. The flooring is an ugly green and old machinery lines the hallways. A small plaque on a wall has the dates 1919, 1949 and 1956 stamped on it-I'm assuming dates when the building was built and added on to. I notice an arrow pointing upstairs so I head to the second floor. The place definitely has the smell an industrial machinery factory.

There's a reception counter with a smoked glass window (like in a doctor's office). I ring the buzzer and a woman slides opens the glass. She doesn't speak English and returns with an associate. I explain who I am and how I mailed a letter of introduction a month earlier to company president Lillane Wagner-Leschot. The young woman informs me that Wagner-Leschot never comes here. Jeez, I should have gone with my instincts. On the company's website Wagner-Leschot was listed as President and Miro Bapic was listed as General Manager. Though I figured Wagner-Leschot was probably just a figurehead title I opted to address the letter to her because I was following the chain-of-command. I ask to speak to Miro Bapic. The woman says he isn't here now and, that it isn't a good idea. "Why not?" I ask. "He's special", she replies. "What does that mean"? I ask. "He's not very friendly" she answers. "Oh", I reply, "that's no problem-I'm used to dealing with people like that". I leave background material and vow to return in the afternoon.

Returning in the afternoon it's like a repeat of the morning. "The boss" as the woman calls Mr. Bapic was in and left again. "Did he see the material I left?" I ask. "Yes, but he didn't say anything", she answers. Boy, it looks like I'm out of luck to meet this man who invokes such warmth from employees.