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.