Le Phare Jean d'Eve SA

Wow, I wasn't expecting to find such an impressive building housing the offices of Le Phare Jean d'Eve. Built in the 1930's, the three-story structure fronts downtown La Chaux-de-Fonds' main thoroughfare. A sign spelling out "Montres Jean d-Eve", which looks like it lights up at night, occupies space near the rooftop.

Unfortunately the main entry with its impressive ornate black steel bars is no longer used so, visitors gain entry by an unexciting side entrance. Taking the stairway up to the second floor reception area one passes old Jean d'Eve watch posters. The company traces its roots back to 1888.

I explain who I am and what I do to the receptionist and in a few minutes I'm meeting with Roger Biddle, Regional Sales Manager. Though Biddle says they hadn't received my letter of introduction sent a month earlier to general director Jean-Bernard Straub, he agrees to answer questions while sitting in the reception area.. However, my visit turns out to be pretty much a waste of time as it's over within five minutes thanks to Riddle's indifferent answers.

Sitting in the reception area is the extent of my tour and from what I can see the decor and furnishings looks to be in a 1950's time warp. Twenty five people work here, there's limited parking in the rear for employees, smoking isn't allowed in the workplace, there's no formal dress code and it's an hour and a half to Geneva's airport.

Renley International Holding Ltd, a Hong Kong-based watch manufacturing company, bought Le Phare Jean d'Eve in 1991 . My request to see the Managing Director's office is quickly dismissed by Riddle because "it's private". Riddle won't tell me if it's a corner or middle office, what floor it's on or even what the view is out the window.