WatchTime Magazine has scored an amazing exclusive. Editor Joe Thompson and Senior Editor Norma Buchanan recently became the first journalists ever to set foot in the Rolex movement manufacturing complex in Bienne, Switzerland.
The whole story (June 2010) is well worth the read but here are a few of the more interesting tidbits:
- The Bienne plant employs 2,000 people and churns out 750,000 movements a year, all of which are sent to the COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) for chronometer certification.
- Dozens of robots make plates and bridges in giant 12-foot gondola-like modules that look like something straight out of the latest science fiction flick. When a module completes its work, the finished product is sent via a monorail to the next pod.
- Tolerances in the manufacturing process are two microns or a few hundredths of the diameter of a human hair; human specialists use microscopes to inspect and enforce perfection.
- Employees use special Rolex bikes to get between one of the six manufacturing plants that make up the Bienne "campus."
- Hairsprings are created in part by a 2400-degree furnace that looks like a rocket ship.
- There are 200 different points on a Rolex Daytona 4130 movement that need lubrication.