I was lucky enough to be invited a few weeks ago to visit this old factory which has been making tools for watchmakers for over 200 years. Since 1791, that’s how old it is… During the same year, the city of Washington had been founded, the French king Louis XVI had been arrested in Varennes by the revolutionaries and Mozart had died.
From confinement to the world’s markets
What I learned was that at the time, the farmers working as watchmakers were confined to their farms for the whole winter and worked on making watch movements. To do this they needed tools that they were manufacturing themselves. One of them was better at it than the others and he was being asked for his tools. He soon realised that being the best toolmaker was better than being just one of many watchmakers. This is how the company Faure Frères was born, which later became Bergeon & Cie in 1927.
During my tour, I was able to discover what is the Bergeon’s strength and the pride of the CEO, Vladimir Zennaro: his Manufacture! He explained to me how the company has undergone a radical transformation since he joined in 1986 and then acquired it in 2005. In the past, it was essentially a trading company that manufactured less than a third of its products and traded others’. Today, Bergeon enjoys the status of a Swiss Made Manufacture producing 75% of the 15,000 items listed on the company’s catalogue. Bergeon is the world leader in watchmaking tools with more than 5,000 customers in 110 countries.
A real manufacture
I haven’t visited many factories yet, but I was very moved by the kindness of the people I met and by the pride they had in talking about Bergeon and its tools… but also about the company’s commitment to quality of workmanship, diversity, sustainability and training. They had just been awarded “2nd best training company in the canton of the year” and that seemed to mean a lot to them…
These typically Swiss values of excellence that Bergeon shares with watchmakers enable us to continue to manufacture here what is cheaper elsewhere… When I asked him why he should buy one Bergeon product rather than another, Zennaro simply replied as follows: “If I take care of it, the Bergeon tools will last me a lifetime!“
The people I met and the factory visit made me realise the value of the watchmaking tools that Bergeon has offered to me in order to stimulate my passion for watches and to allow me to get to grips with the school calibers that I am looking forward to. But that’s just for next time, now it’s time to say thanks and congrats!