Erterna SA

Eterna has been located in Grenchen (population 15,000) since its founding back in 1856. It's not hard finding the offices of Eterna since it's just on the opposite side of the railroad tracks from Fortis Watch, where I've just left.

The four-story building, originally built in the 1950's for another watch company, has been home to Eterna since 1973. It's a mixed-use area with residential housing, apartments and businesses. I check in with the receptionist and explain sending a letter of introduction a month earlier to CEO Ernst Seyr. Two large glass cases in the waiting area display old Eterna watches along with historical background information. There's also a glass case displaying Porsche Design watches. Oh, oh, bad news, it seems no one knows anything about my visit. I'm in luck though as Barbara Haldimann, Sales Manageress, agrees to answer questions. Note: it's the first time I've come across a business card with the title "sales manageress".

In 1995 Ferdinand Alexander Porsche bought Eterna. Yep, he's a Porsche as in Porsche cars. He also owns Porsche Design, a Salzburg, Austria-based company selling a wide variety of upscale products such as eyewear, writing instruments, leather goods, pipes and smoking accessories and, even golf clubs.

About 60 people work here. There's no cafeteria but, a break room. Smoking in the workplace is optional, parking is free and plentiful, there's no formal dress code, it's five minutes to Grenchen's city center, five minutes to the nearest freeway and an hour and a half drive to Zurich's airport.

I can't see CEO Ernst Seyr's first floor corner office because "he's in a meeting". My tour consists of the meeting room where the questions were answered.

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