Experts talking

Every time, the "Experts talking" column develops a different case.
The author's aim, as connoisseur and authority about the matter, is to help you to understand the subject by making these informations comprehensible and digestive.
Presently: Watch-cases

Already available
- Autoquartz
- Chronograph or chronometer
- Shock-absorber
- Water-resistance

- The Swiss watch production
- Material and finishes for watch cases

- Watch Professionals I
- Watch Professionals II
- Watch-cases
- Sapphire crystal
- Boîte et bracelet
- Bevelling and finishes...(I)
- Bevelling and finishes...(II)
- Bevelling and finishes...(III)
- Bevelling and finishes...(IV)
- Bevelling and finishes...(V)
- Bevelling and finishes...(VI)

- Bevelling and finishes...(VII)
- Bevelling and finishes...(VIII)
- Bevelling and finishes...(IX)
- Bevelling and finishes..(X)
- The Tourbillon
- Observations on top-of-the-range mechanical watches I
- Observations on top-of-the-range...II
- Observations on top-of-the-range...III
- Observations on top-of-the-range...IV
- Stricking watches
- The Screws (I)
- The Screws (II)
- The Screws (III)
- The Screws (IV)
- The Screws (V)
- Chronometry

- at present

nav

Technology -Main page
Contents

The author
Gérald Donzé General Manager of Donzé-Baume SA / Fabrique de boîtes et bracelets de montres / Rue du Curé-Beuret 6 / CH - 2345 Les Breuleux
A watch-case and bracelet manufacturer established in Les Breuleux since 1868, Donzé-Baume SA is one of the oldest firms in the sector. An independent family business employing a staff of around 200, it is active in the field of crafting state-of-the-art watch cases and bracelets from steel, titanium and precious metals. As the specialised partner of a number of high-end watch companies, Donzé-Baume SA is considered a leader in its field both in Switzerland and abroad.

9. WATCH-CASES

Watch-cases

While world annual requirements in terms of watch cases in all categories amount to around 600 million units, Swiss manufacturers account for only 6 million, or 1 % of this total. These figures are an eloquent reminder of the framework within which our industry works.
This situation is the result of many years of crises and restructuration. 1974 saw the start of the first major upheaval in watchmaking, which was shaken to its very foundations and consequently reviewed its structures and resized to fit the volumes and types of product that it would be able to continue making and selling.
Watch-case producers did not escape this maelstrom and global Swiss production dropped from 45 million to 6 million a year. It would be unfair for the companies which currently excel in our field to draw a veil over the difficult and uncertain years which each has experienced in its own way.
In order to achieve the structures in place today, our sector has shown courage, ingenuity, a taste for risks and above all faith in the medium and top of the range which requires our services, and which remains loyal to us in a spirit of genuine partnership.
Watch-cases are as much a watch component as are the dials or hands. However beautiful or complicated, a case carries the watchmaker's brand name, and the case manufacturer is not identified on the product it sells. This is the strength of our profession which, by avoiding any branding policy, eliminates heavy advertising costs.
This is however also its weakness, as we are all dependent on the success (or lack of it) of our watchmaker clients who are sometimes subject to a sudden and unexpected turn of events in economic or fashion terms. Swiss manufacture of watch cases is structured into small and medium-sized companies.

Few employ more than 150 people. Most manufacturers are part of the Union Suisse pour l'Habillage de la Montre (Swiss Union for Watch Exteriors). This professional association comprises around 50 members. Ten companies alone account for 90% of Swiss watch case production.
This industrial fabric, which is far removed from what one sees in other sectors, where only large companies can hope to survive, enables case manufacturers to stay closely in tune with demand, to be supple and extremely quick in adapting their production means - in a word to satisfy exacting clients who must constantly adapt to demand and to the sometimes surprising effects of fashion. In the highly particular luxury watch market, each company has had to choose its path and its niche, as none of them can be effective throughout the range of cases requested.
It is thus that, according to their choices or natural affinities, companies find themselves working for the middle and top of the range, and even peak of the price pyramid.
This positioning will determine the clientele of each company. In all cases and depending on the performances sought, it is important to insist in the fact that all watch manufacturers now active in their respective niches are well organised, that they all demonstrate know-how and ingenuity and have all equipped their factories with modern and effective production facilities. Nonetheless, production is not merely about technology and machinery. Men are needed.
One should note the excellent level of specialisation of personnel working in our sector. Almost entirely concentrated within the Jura region, our profession calls for qualified, loyal and multi-faceted staff.
Each day we are met with new challenges. We have to make up the products to order quickly and with no mistakes. No compromises on the functionality and quality of the cases may be tolerated.
Impeccable quality and customer satisfaction is an integral part of a watch case, representing its pride and its future.
Crafting watch cases is in no way an ordinary profession. It is on the contrary a demanding and particularly fascinating field of expertise, exempt from any routine.
Through their talent and their creations, Swiss watch-case manufacturers contribute to the success of the watch companies which, by means of their label, name or products, continue to enable people to dream in the modern world!
What a fine reward and source of satisfaction for our sector!

 

 

 

Technology -Main page
Contents