On Tuesday of last week, Rolex officially inaugurated its new factory in Bienne, Switzerland. The project that began over a decade ago has now come to fruition, and the results are quite astonishing.
The Swiss watchmaker chose to build an entirely new facility in the watchmaking hub, which is also home to Swatch and its subsidiary, Omega, in order to take control of the movement-making process from start to finish. The vertical integration means that manufactuing is more streamlined and Rolex can put out a better product.
Rolex incorporated some great cutting-edge technology into its new factory as well. It employs robots that look like the disembodied-arm machines common in car manufacturing to test their models for wear and tear at lighting speed. Another machine has revolutionized the company's case-making process, performing what used to require a series of cuts and shapings in a single sweep.
Don't worry, though, Rolex still boasts the master craftsmen that make these timepieces truly some of the most exquisite luxury watches in the world. While some of the process has been automated to keep up with demand and provide infinitesimally consistent products, these experts give Rolexes their soul. It also invests heavily in research and development at the plant, reportedly funding a department of 250 individuals who collectively are approved for five to eight patents annually. The company has more than 1,000 patents in watchmaking. Clearly, there's a lot of innovation going on here.
If you can't get out to Bienne in the near future for a hot-off-the-press Rolex, though, Philippe's has an impressive array of timepieces at our Beverly Hills watch store available.