News Wednesday, October 17th 2012
Rolex inaugurated the new building at its watch movement production facility in Bienne in the presence of in.uential guests from political and economic circles, including Swiss Federal Councillor (minister for economic affairs) Johann Schneider-Ammann, President of canton Bern’s Executive Council Andreas Rickenbacher, member for canton Bern of the Council of States Hans Stöckli, and Bienne mayor Erich Fehr. After the traditional ribbon cutting, guests and journalists toured the brand’s new movement production workshops where high-value-added manual watchmaking know-how is combined with highly advanced technology.
Rolex new building in Bienne © Rolex / Roger Frei
The new building, the product of one of the largest industrial construction projects in recent years in Switzerland, enables the world’s leading luxury watchmaker to rationalize production of its watch movements. Movement manufacturing has been brought together on a single ultra-modern 400,000 m3 site – of which the new building occupies 230,000 m3 – over a total area of 92,000 m2.
Through its exceptional performance in terms of productivity, employee comfort and respect for the environment, the Bienne production site sets a new standard in watch manufacturing, perpetuating Rolex’s pioneering spirit and passion for quality.
A “new era“ for Rolex
“Today Rolex is entering a new era,” said Maître Bertrand Gros, Chairman of the Manufacture des Montres Rolex S.A. “The construction of the new building in Bienne, which began in 2009, demonstrates our unshakeable confidence in the future. At a time when the supply of strategic components is a major concern for the watchmaking industry, our sites in Bienne and Geneva form a solid manufacturing base that gives the brand absolute autonomy, complete freedom for innovation and creativity, as well as ensuring a level of excellence that corresponds to its demands.”
Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann underlined the importance of Rolex as an ambassador of Swiss quality and expertise throughout the world: “With its significant investment in its new production facility, Rolex is signaling that, even with the difficult world economic climate, Switzerland remains a first-class manufacturing location.”
Production entirely mastered in-house
The new building in Bienne marks the culmination of the strategy Rolex adopted over 10 years ago with the aim of integrating production of all the essential components for its watches – from the case to the movement, from the dial to the bracelet – on four purpose-built or remodelled sites, three in Geneva and one in Bienne. This avant-garde strategy designed to ensure autonomous manufacturing has given Rolex means of production that remain unequalled.
Grouping movement production in a new manufacturing complex increases efficiency and productivity, rationalizes the various manufacturing operations, and improves the movement of people and flow of products. New facilities include an impressive fully automated stocking system. It provides more than 46,000 compartments for safe storage of components and finished products, and transports items rapidly to the production workshops via 22 stations and over 1.2 km of rails across the site.
The building’s architecture is sleek and rigorous. It provides vast space and good natural daylight thanks to light wells whose design was inspired by a watch movement. The new complex also includes a large company restaurant with panoramic views and several relaxation areas for employees.
As at each Rolex site, the new building was designed and built to strict standards concerning safety, integration into the environment and respect for the natural surroundings, as well as with sustainable development in mind. The new building in Bienne complies with the Swiss Minergie® sustainable building standard, which is exceptional for a building of this size. The building is distinguished by a rational use of energy, a high-performance thermal envelope, the adoption of renewable energies and high degree of integration between industrial processes and the building’s technical systems.
More than 2,000 people work at Rolex’s site in Bienne and more than 4,000 work in Geneva, where the brand’s world headquarters is located, the other components are made and the watches are assembled. ■