La Montre Hermes
I find the watchmaking subsidiary of La Montre Hermes in an industrial
park about four miles from Bienne's city center. Built in 1999,
the white, three-story building pretty much blends in with its
neighbors except for one slightly odd detail: atop the building
stands a life-size 17th century calvary soldier on his mount
(horse). Hmm, I think that has something to do with the company's
roots. A two-foot tall Hermes sign near the parking entrance
lets visitors know they're at the right place.
Wow, the insides of the building are pretty cool. One wall, running
the length of the building, is covered with brown leather. There's
a large atrium in the middle of the building with a 20-foot tall
palm tree occupying center stage. Unfortunately though, the palm
tree looks like it's on its last legs as nary a palm branch sprouts
from the top. Hardwood flooring is everywhere and brown seems
to be a dominate color with even the reception counter completely
covered in brown leather. Several colorful flower arrangements
and framed Hermes silk scarfs on the wall give the reception
area a snazzy but elegant look.
I explain to the friendly receptionist how I mailed a letter
of introduction a month earlier to CEO Guillaume De Seynes. Calls
are made and in a few minutes Vincent Moesch, Marketing Manager,
arrives. It seems nobody knows anything about the letter but,
that doesn't stop the accommodating Moesch from extending a warm
welcome and tour of the place.
Walking around Moesch explains that the interior of the buildings
and its furnishings contain only four colors (beige, green, white
and orange). In every office hang's a framed Hermes silk scarfeach
was especially designed for this buildingmeaning the colors
in the scarf are restricted to the four colors.
About 80 people work here. Employee parking is plentiful, there's
no formal dress code, smoking is allowed in the workplace and
cycling commuters enjoy covered parking. There're no on-site
recreational facilities but if you're a runner shower facilities
are available. Taking a break in the large break room located
on the backside of the building workers can step outside and
enjoy the tranquil setting of the adjacent farmland and of a
flowing river with its banks lined with tall trees and a cycling/jogging
trail. A large man-made pond lies not too far from the break
room door but I don't spot any fish, though Moesch insists they're
in there somewhere. It's 10 minutes to Bienne's city center,
10 minutes to Bienne's lakefront via bicycle and the river bikeway,
two minutes to the nearest freeway and two hours to Geneva's
airport. Any unusual employee perks? Each employee is permitted
to buy one or two watches per year at cost.
Deputy Director Emmanuel Raffner occupies a top floor corner
office. As with everywhere else in the building the floor is
hardwood and the furnishings minimal, modernistic and tastefully
done. On a wall hangs a framed Hermes silk scarf with designs
of violins. No plants or flowers are visible and note the computer.
The view out his window? The farmland and river.
Hermes doesn't have a separate website for its watches: www.hermes.com