For the eighth time, Lionel Messi has deservedly been crowned Ballon d’Or winner! In Vallorbe (Switzerland), there’s exultation: the award-winning timepiece was manufactured by ec Group watchmakers, including Gaïa award-winning watchmaker Eric Coudray. An outstanding achievement signed by the happy boss Arnaud Faivre.
Pre-match replay! Before this watch, designed and produced by Puretec, ended up on the forearms of the Ballon d’Or winners, it gradually became a reality. Over the course of a manufacturing journey within the TEC Group, a galaxy of industrial gems…
Once upon a time, Vallorbe!
The matches, the crackling of the photographs, the relentlessness of the cameras, the starification, the transfers… On the pitch, the effort, the sweat, the glory. In the stadiums, behind their screens, the galvanized crowds, the fervor. It’s a global phenomenon, and brands are aware of it, trying to make the most of this tumult of events. Even the luxury goods sector is getting in on the act, courting lawns that were not so long ago considered populous. The watchmaking industry is not to be outdone: nobody saw Purnell coming! A name synonymous with Tourbillons and Swiss-made watchmaking excellence, the brand has long since slipped in ahead of the major popular events.
Right on goal! The decisive passes
Winning is all about passing and teamwork. When it comes to watchmaking excellence, it’s just the same.
Except that the training facilities for these stadiums are located in the Vallée de Joux, Vallorbe or Yverdon-les-Bains…
This micromechanical UFO, a rotating, football-like expression of the tourbillon’s mother complication, the “Purnell” featured on the cover of the winter-spring 2022-2023 issue of JSH Magazine, has come a long way. Like its past and future variations, like many other “talking pieces” or complicated timepieces, it owes its very existence to the subtle interplay of interlocking, complementary skills. A sum of meticulous operations carried out by expert hands, a mix of “big players” and behind-the-scenes meticulous players. A whole range of expertise rarely found within a single group.
In 2018, Arnaud Faivre established the TEC Group, which today encompasses 11 companies, mainly active in watch manufacturing, with the exception of Helvetica Horlogerie, a boutique in Le Sentier (more than 60 watch brands), and Rita & Zia, a jewellery brand with an office in Geneva’s Rue du Rhône. Ancestral, fundamental techniques rub shoulders with the most up-to-date machining equipment…
Purtec, design, development and assembly
On a watchmaking pitch, Purtec, the Group’s “new kid on the block”, brandishing its slogan “Crazy Movements” like a defiant invective, is both the coach’s lodge and the goalposts. It’s a place for strategy and design, but also for implementation and assembling. Although it was first created on simulators and calculators, it is above all built on the invaluable and reliable capital of two great watchmakers, the Gaia prizewinners Eric Coudray and Paul Clementi. These two luminaries are joined by a team of select watchmakers. Once the timepiece has passed through all the Group’s workbenches, they will then assemble and fine-tune it.
TEC Ebauches, and much more
Even though, logistically speaking, the order of passage is not disclosed here in detail, we have to start from the bottom. TEC Ébauches is the group company that manufactures the blank kits and produces the parts on its 5-axis CNC machines. From Vallorbe, it is always connected to the Missimi Berney tooling factory, an historic entity in the heart of the Vallée de Joux that supplies fixtures and manufacturing tools. Nor is it far from Decobar Swiss, in charge of turning barrels and their axles, or Roud’Hor, a high-precision company that has specialized for a quarter of a century in the manufacture of watch gears, and which, for this timepiece, has been entrusted with the manufacture of mobiles: axles, pinions and hand-decorated wheels. LD Roulage was also not far behind, rolling the precision pivots on its Strausak equipment.
Decors, finishing touches and ultimate care
Finally, before the timepieces return to Purtec for final assembly, testing and calibration, they undergo a few exchanges of courtesies. In the Vallée de Joux, between Le Lieu and l’Abbaye, they are polished, electroplated and decorated at Watch Déco, and hand-bevelled and polished for the famous “balloon” at Prodécor.