Zenith International S.A.



It's near the edge of Le Locle's downtown area that I find Zenith's headquarters. Built in the 1970's, the four-story box-shaped structure fronts a wide range of Zenith factory buildings. A then 22-year old Georges Favre-Jacot founded Zenith on this site back in 1865. Several of the connected buildings look like they could be original structures including a massive 10-story smokestack chimney.

Except for the five white orchid arrangements, the second floor reception area is awash in a sea of brown including two brown sofas and three brown leather-topped coffee tables. While friendly receptionist Taryn Decristophoris tracks down who ended up with my letter of introduction sent a month earlier to CEO Thierry Nataf I wander about checking out the watches in the six glass display cases. I also tease Ms. Decristophoris over the fact she doesn't wear a watch. Then again, with all the Zenith watches on display she doesn't really need to wear one to know the time.

Francois Bohn, Human Resources Director, answers my questions while sitting in one of the meeting rooms. The rooms are named after watch movements and each contains part of Zenith's watch collection.
A total of 220 people work here (head office/factory). Being near downtown Le Locle (population 10,000) finds the parking situation tight. Smoking isn't allowed in offices, there's no recreational facilities, no formal dress code and it's about an hour and half to Zurich or Geneva airports.

Any chance of tearing down some of the older factory buildings which appear to be unused? No, the whole site is protected/historic. Any employee perks? Special prices on Zenith watches. I can't see the top floor corner office of CEO Nataf because "he's busy".