CompliTime SA (Greubel Forsey)



While researching watch companies to visit I came across an article on CompliTime, which develops complicated movements for high-end watches. Founded in 2001, CompliTime recently launched a new watch brand, Greubel Forsey. Their first watch, the Double Tourbillon 30 Degrees caught my eye. A tourbillon is a device invented to eliminate errors of rate in the vertical position–in other words a mechanism devised to compensate for the earth's gravity pull. Besides being difficult to do, a tourbillon also dramatically increases the price of a watch. Hmm, a double tourbillon? It looks like I better visit these guys.

The address leads me about a mile from downtown La Chaux-de-Fonds to a mixed-use area containing small businesses and older apartment buildings. The gray, blah-looking, four-story building in front of me looks quite ordinary. However, once you enter it's a whole different story. Why? In the olden days this several hundred years-old building was where horse carriages were parked overnight (valet parking?). Entering on the other side you can still see the grooves in the ground where the wheels of the carriages passed through. There's a large enclosed courtyard with frescoes lining the walls. A restaurant with seating in the courtyard anchors one end while a door leading to CompliTime's offices and workshops anchors the other side.

Frenchman Robert Greubel (born 1960) and Englishman Stephen Forsey (born 1967) are co-founders and co-CEO's. I met Greubel a week ago because I mistakenly cycled to La Neuveville, a quaint medieval village halfway between Bienne and Neuchatel. It turns out the address is where some administrative work is done and Greubel keeps an apartment upstairs. In La Neuveville I also met Nicole Segundo, Marketing & Sales Manager, who said she'd notify the people in the La Chaux-de-Fonds office of my pending arrival.

Andreas Drollinger, who's business card reads "Chief of Projects", is the one who shows me around and answers questions. Fifteen people work here. The decor is a blend of old (wood beams) mixed in with new (modernistic glass partitions). You're on your owning as far as parking-though commuting cyclists can bring their bikes inside. There's no smoking in the workplace, no formal dress code and, it's a few minutes walk to the city center and all its places to eat.

CEO Forsey occupies a large first floor corner office. I note the computer and the microscope. Note: Out of the over 140 watch companies visited so far, it's only the second time I've seen a microscope in the CEO's office----the other being at Patek Philippe.

Interested in purchasing the Double Tourbillon 30 degrees watch? Be willing to wait several years and cough up almost $300,000.

Website for Greubel Forsey: www.greubelforsey.ch