Bulgari Time (Switzerland) SA

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?