The picture accompanying this story is somewhat misleading because
it doesn't show a large portion of Tissot's headquarters/factory.
This is a result of the complex being built on steep terrace
overlooking downtown Le Locle. Out of sight in the right side
of the picture (behind the trees) stands the newest (1966) and
tallest (seven stories) building. The first building you see
(white with a red roof) was built in 1907 and is the oldest structure
here. Back when this first building was built this area was pretty
much barren and formally called the Shooting Range Plateau due
to the Society of Rifle Shooters holding its activities here---it
would not have been a good place to ride a mountain bike across.
Several receptionists man the second floor reception counter.
I count eight magazines to thumb through in the reception waiting
area (four German and four French) and note the display of Mido
watches. Mido as well as Tissot (since 1985) are part of the
Swatch Group. My visit turns out to be a lot of fun thanks to
the hospitable Penelope Vincent, International Public Relations
My tour is extensive and I doubt if there's a nook and cranny
of the facility Vincent neglects to show me. It's easy to get
lost here as numerous additions have been added over the years
making it sometimes tricky going from one building to another.
The funniest moment of the tour comes when I'm taken into a showroom
and shown two large glass display counters (similar to what you
see in a watch/jewelry store). One case is labeled "not
do" and is filled with Tissot watches displayed in a sloppy,
overlapping, hodge-podge manner. The other case is labeled "do"
and is filled with Tissot watches tastefully arranged.
Thanks to its commanding location on a steep terrace overlooking
Le Locle (population 10,400) the Tissot complex is highly visible
from below. At night a large lit Tissot sign atop the its seven-story
building is seeable across the whole valley.
About 200 people work here. Smoking isn't allowed in the workplace,
parking is plentiful including covered parking for commuting
cyclists and, there's no formal dress code-with the workweek
ending in that American invention--casual Fridays. Employee perks?
Special prices on watches.
CEO Francois Thiebaud occupies a large corner office on the sixth
floor. There's the traditional antique watchmaker's bench but
it's a lively looking office thanks to all the sports memorabilia
and nik-naks scattered about the room. The sports stuff shouldn't
come as a surprise since Tissot is involved with a number of
sports including cycling, motorcycling, ice hockey and fencing.
That explains the tall ice hockey stick in the corner. There's
a jersey signed by Michael Owen. "Who's he?" I ask.
Vincent says Owen is a famous Liverpool international soccer
player. I must admit I'm clueless to who's who or what's what
in soccer since I'm typical of most Americans in that we don't
follow the world's biggest sport.