Cyma SA

A two-minute walk from Le Locle's compact city center brings one to Cyma's four-story building. The name "Cyma" in large letters is visible on the outside of the yellowish-colored structure between the second and third floors. From visiting watch companies in Le Locle last year I learned plaques have been placed on the outside of buildings with historical significance to the watch industry. Near the entrance door at Cyma is one of these plaques and though it's in French I spot the date 1903 and deduce it's saying that's when this building was built. Watch manufacturer Zenith (visited in 2003) has it's offices/factory down the block.

It's late in the afternoon when entering the lobby and it looks and feels like being in a 1950's time warp. There's no receptionist and visitors are instructed to buzz a buzzer for assistance. A woman appears and I explain who I am and how I sent a letter of introduction a month earlier to CEO Claude Guilgot. The woman says no one is around so I give her some background material and say I'll return tomorrow.

The next morning I return, buzz the buzzer and the same woman reappears. She disappears and then another woman appears. Though she doesn't identify herself this other woman agrees to answer questions. It's pretty much a waste of time and over in five minutes as I have to pry answers out of this woman while sitting in the lobby. About 25 people work here. Though the company traces it's roots back to 1862, Cyma was dormant for years until it was bought and moved into this building by CEO Claude Guilgot in 1978. Employees are on their own as far as parking, smoking is allowed in the workplace, there's no formal dress code and, it's 30 minutes to the nearest freeway. Any employee perks? "Special prices" on Cyma watches.

I can't see CEO Guilgot's middle office on the third floor and no reason is given. My tour of the place is limited to the lobby which is void of any watch paraphernalia.

Before leaving I ask this woman for her business card. The name on the card reads Francoise Schuerch-Guilgot. "Are you related to the owner?", I ask. "He's my father", she replies.

Later in the evening I peruse the background material given to me and laugh when reading where it states the company is nicknamed by the locals "Precision City". Methinks they dug that up from a very, very old news clipping.