Vincent Calabrese



Among the many watches created by Vincent Calabrese are those containing tourbillons and that's the reason I've added Calabrese to my list of watchmakers being visited. A tourbillon is a device invented to eliminate errors of rate in the vertical position--in other words it's a mechanism devised to compensate for the earth's gravity pull. Besides being difficult to do, it also dramatically increases the price of a watch.

The city of Lausanne (population 120,000) starts at the lakeside and rises up steep hillsides to the city center. One means of getting from the city center to the lakeside is via a 100-year-old funicular tram. It's next to this tram route in a plain eight-story, 1970's-style building wrapped in scaffolding (its exterior is undergoing renovations) that I find the office and workshop of Vincent Calabrese. It's a mixed-use building with businesses mixed in with apartments. The surrounding area is filled with beautiful four, five and six-story turn-of-the-century apartment buildings.

The building directory says I need to go to floor "-1" so, it's downstairs I go (though it's actually the third floor thanks to the building being built on an incline). After buzzing the buzzer, Tina Calabrese opens the door and invites me in.

It's a two-person operation here as Vincent Calabrese creates and puts together the watches while his daughter does pretty much everything else such as administrative and accounting functions and, even taking care of the website (www.vincent-calabrese.ch). Though the 61-year-old Italian-born Calabrese doesn't speak English and this American-born cyclist doesn't speak anything other than English, it turns out to be a fun visit thanks to daughter Tina being the go-between interpreter. I did want to tell Mr. Calabrese that he has a very attractive daughter but figured it would be awkward for Tina to translate that.

Tina has a large room for her office, then there's another large room filled with all kinds of watch machinery (drilling, sanding, cutting and so on) and finally there's a large workroom where Mr. Calabrese creates his works of art. The three rooms all contain oversized windows allowing for plenty of natural lighting. What's the view out the windows? The greenery of the property grounds and, the trams rumbling past every10 minutes.

Being on his own I was expecting Calabrese to be one of those "old world" guys set in his ways so I was surprised to learn he embraced computers back in the early 1990's. Calabrese spends a few minutes giving demonstrations of the various software used in his work.

Though he lives nearby, Calabrese, whose daughter calls him a workaholic, also keeps an apartment in this building.