Vaudaux S.A.

For several months I've been visiting watch companies as well as checking out watches on display in jewelry shops and watch boutiques. While looking in a watch shop window in downtown Geneva something occurred to me. Who makes all those leather cases and display stands that jewelry and watches are shown on or in? When visiting watch companies and having a look at their product showroom display the watches are invariably ensconced in beautifully designed and crafted cases. Sounds like a little research is in order. I come across Vaudaux's name and send out the letter of introduction to General Manager Jacques Vaudaux. However, I've only given Vaudaux a week's notice of my pending arrival instead of the customary four weeks. Will the company rise to the occasion?

It's 8AM when I show up at the front door of Vaudaux's two adjacent orange-colored, two-story buildings. Geneva's airport lies less then a half-mile away and residential housing is right across the street. There's a company sign on the corner of a building. Hmm, the front door is open but no one is manning the reception desk so I sit down and wait. The smell of leather is in the air as I check out the two glass display cases filled with beautiful leather boxes. The floor is burlap wood and two tall trees about eight feet tall liven up the small reception/waiting area. Magazines to skim through include two issues of A World of Dreams, three issues of Europa Star and two issues of The Basel Magazine. A worker passing by stops and asks if I've been helped. I explain myself to him and he leaves.

Within a few minutes I'm greeted, then whisked away by Isabelle Vaudaux, Sales & Product Manager, for a tour of the facility. The company-owned building we're in was built in 1972 and its adjacent duplicate twin in 1991. It's a far cry from the pictures I see of Marc Vaudaux's (Isabelle's great grandfather), who founded the company's first jewelry case workshop in Geneva's city center back in 1908. About 100 people work here. From the beginning the company focused its attention on watch and clock makers such as Rolex and Patek Philippe as well as jewelry brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels and Mouawad. In the 1980's Vaudaux started making leather goods for Louis Vuitton.

Smoking isn't allowed in the workplace, employee parking is sufficient, there's no formal dress code and no designated parking for commuting cyclists. According to Isabelle, the food served in the ground floor company cafeteria is "good". It's less than a half-mile to the nearest freeway and four miles to downtown Geneva. Any employee perks? Special prices on leather goods.

Likeable Isabelle answers questions while we sit in the company's product showroom. The jewelry boxes, watch cases and other company creations are absolutely beautiful. On a table near the window sit two very expensive-looking Chinese vases. Why? Part of Vaudaux's business is building customized display boxes and they're in the midst of creating one for those antique vases.

Getting to see the office of the CEO Jacque Vaudaux isn't a problem because Isabelle has some pull-she's his daughter. His middle office isn't very big and contains zero plants. I note the computer and family pictures. His views out the window? The sports field next door. I ask Vaudaux why his daughter's office is quite a bit larger than his. He laughs and shrugs his shoulders.