Well, I think Zeno-Watch Patrik-Phillip Huber wins the prize
for having the most unusual head office location for a watch
company. I'm in Basel near the edge of town. Directly across
the street from where I'm standing is a meat processing plant
for Coop, Switzerland's second largest grocer. In front of me
stands another large Coop facility with tractor trailer trucks
coming and going and railway cars parked on sidings. It looks
to be a combination distribution, bakery and food production
complex. I surmise that this can't possibly be where Zeno-Watch
Basel is located. I walk across the street to the offices of
the meat plant and show them the address I have. After several
people confer, I'm directed back across the street to the Coop
complex. Sure enough, after entering the facility and dodging
big trucks I spot a sign for Zeno-Watch Basel on an ugly concrete
building next to a railway car.
A sign directs visitors to the second floor where it feels like
one has entered a 1960's time warp. Clutter is absolutely everywhere
and so are boxes stamped with Asian markings. I make my way to
a sliding glass counter and spot a woman sitting at a cluttered
desk on the other side. I explain who I am and how I mailed a
letter of introduction a month ago to CEO Philipp Huber. Well,
facing this woman's desk is another desk. Stuff is piled so high
on the second desk that I initially don't even notice there's
a man sitting there. It's Felix Huber, who has been the longtime
CEO and not Philipp Huber.
We head into an adjacent meeting room where Huber answers my
questions. The room's perimeter is filled with watches and displays.
The company was founded in La Chaux-de-Fonds back in 1922. I
was thinking maybe the company is located on this site because
Coop owns the company. Nope, they've been here for 15 years.
Why? According to Huber the rent is reasonable.
Ten people work here. Parking is plentiful, smoking is allowed,
it's 15 minutes to Basel's city center, five minutes to Basel's
airport and five minutes to the nearest freeway.
The sixty-something year-old Huber used to be an avid skier and
cyclist and I'm shown several pictures of him doing just that.
The view out the window from Huber's desk? Well, in the picture
that accompanies this story it's the second floor window above
my bike so it's mostly of delivery trucks passing by.