Perrelet Montres SA

There's nothing wrong with reviving a name with historic significance and that's essentially what Flavio Audemars has done. Abraham-Louis Perrelet (1729-1826) will forever have his place in watch history thanks to inventing the first automatic watch in 1777. In 1995 entrepreneur Audemars brought back the Perrelet brand.

The address I have for Perrelet's head office brings me to a four-story building in the old town section of Neuchatel's (population 40,000) city center. It's a very old (1638) and historically significant structure-having in its early years housed the city's treasury. Getting up to Perrelet's offices on the third floor requires navigating an unusual stone circular staircase.

The visit turns out to be disappointing as I learn from Carlo Munari, Vice President & Brand Manager, that this isn't the corporate office but where sales and marketing reside. Munari and two assistants are the only ones here. To see where head honcho Flavio Audemars hangs his hat I have to go to Lugano, located in the eastern part of Switzerland.