Zeno-Watch Patrik-Philipp Huber SA

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.

Website: www.zeno-watch.ch