Auguste Reymond s.a./Nitella Montres SA

Tramelan, population 5,000, is another one of those hard-to-get-to Swiss villages located on the side of a small but scenic valley. It's home to Nitella, a watch factory that in 1989 bought Auguste Reymond, a much older (1898) and better known name in the watch industry.

A two-minute walk from Tramelan's main street brings one to the three-story 1950's building situated on the hillside. As you can see from the picture accompanying this story that the sign above the entrance, is by itself enough to tell you when this place was built.

Thomas Loosli, Managing Director, answers questions and shows me around the facility. He's very well acquainted with the facility. Why? The 40-year old Loosli literally grew up here. The upstairs, now offices, was formerly an apartment where his family lived (his father owned the company). Matter of fact, his father still is connected with the business as I meet him hard at work.

Ten people are employed here. It's a real casual work place with a full kitchen (in the former apartment). The surrounding area is mixed-use with plenty of parking on the street, smoking is allowed (Loosli is a non-smoker) and, employees receive special prices on watches. Any recreational facilities? If you feel like smacking a ball around there's a Ping-Pong table. You can also get your exercise by zipping up and down the three floors since there's no elevator.

When this place was built it was very state of the art. How so? Loosli shows me the sound system used to deliver music throughout the building-its source was a record player-as in the kind that played those 33 and a third vinyl albums.

Loosli's top floor corner office contains plenty of memories since it used to be his bedroom. Don't see any plants but he has a forest of trees to see when looking out his window onto the farmland stretching across the valley. On one wall hang several posters advertising the company's collection of watches with a jazz theme. In each poster there's an attractive woman playing an instrument like a trumpet or clarinet. Who's the woman? It's his wife-who I later meet as I'm leaving.

At Loosli's suggestion I ride several blocks down the road for a look/see at the former factory/villa of Auguste Reymond. The turn-of-the-century structure is impressive, even if it is now empty.