Bulgari Time (Switzerland)
About a mile from downtown Neuchatel and within a block of the
lakefront stands an eight-story building housing Bulgari Time,
the watchmaking subsidiary of Bulgari. The attached picture was
taken street level with the main entrance down where you see
the bus approaching. I mention this because the building is built
on a steep hillside with several more floors below and the top
of an attached building can be partially seen in the right side
of the photo. Large Bulgari signs near the top grace both ends
of the structure.
With lots of wood paneling the lobby has the plush look of a
luxury hotel as I check in with the two uniform-wearing receptionists.
I explain who I am and I how sent a letter of introduction a
month earlier to Stafano Noviello, Managing Director. Immediately
I'm asked if I have an appointment and after answering, "no",
I'm told I have to have an appointment and that "it's made
through Rome." I explain how I send a letter to the top
person in the company and then it's usually referred to someone
else. How can I make an appointment if I don't know who's my
contact person? I ask if they could call up Noviello's secretary
to find out who ended up with the letter. "No", comes
the reply, "it isn't possible because you need an appointment
and that has be done through Rome".
I spend the next ten minutes verbally sparring with the two receptionists
until one mentions Noviello being Director of Human Resources.
"What!", I exclaim, "I thought he's Managing Director
of Bulgari Time?" One of the receptionists then says they
have no watchmaking facilities here. "What, you don't assemble
watches here, what do you do here? I ask. "Mostly administrative"
replies a receptionist. I then say, "I called up here two
month ago asking for the name of the managing director for Bulgari
Time, why was I given Noviello's name?" The receptionists
shrug their shoulders. "You two answer the phones was it
one of you who gave me the incorrect information?". Another
shrug of the shoulders. With that I head out the door. End of
story? Not quite.
A week later while visiting another watch company I have a chance
meeting with a woman, a former executive with Bulgari, who worked
out of the Neuchatel office for years. I tell her of my experience
visiting Bulgari and she's dumbfounded when I tell her about
being told there're are no watchmaking facilities. This woman
says over 400 people work in the building and the watchmaking
facilities have been there for years. "Why would the receptionists
lie to me?" I ask, "I could tell they weren't new to
the job so its not like they were uninformed trainees?"
This woman had no answer and could only shake her head.
Thinking about it later, I wonder, if they have nothing to do
with watches or if I had his title incorrect in the mailed introduction
material, why didn't Stafano Noviello let me know?