Located on the serene outskirts of Geneva is the Rolex Plan-les-Ouates production site, a state-of-the-art facility where Rolex manufactures all the elements of its watch cases, bracelets, bezels and even its own gold alloys. We have had our detailed overview of all Rolex manufacturing facilities, and have even had a look inside the Bienne and Chêne-Bourg sites. Today, we are paying a virtual visit inside the Plan-les-Ouates case and bracelet manufacture.
The Plan-les-Ouates facility was inaugurated in 2005, is composed of six wings, spanning 130 meters by 30 meters, making it the largest of the Rolex sites. A total of six production floors and no less than five underground floors serve the many pressing duties fulfilled by this site, all linked to the manufacturing and development of watch cases and bracelets.
Gabriele Guscetti of Ingeni SA, the project manager and engineer for Rolex’s new buildings in Geneva’s Acacias and Plan-les-Ouates areas, sums up Rolex’s architectural approach perfectly:
“Rolex is the client that devotes most attention to what it builds, to each of the techniques used for the benefit of the architecture. As in a watch, each element counts and deserves the fullest attention, right down to a small waterproofing seal. Each component of a building counts just as much as the sum of its parts, just as much as the whole construction… The brand’s buildings are unique projects, which generate new applications of often existing advanced techniques adapted to Rolex’s needs. These applications are original, but they are always based on an objective raison d’être: there’s never any dramatizing, no quest for extravagance.”
That truly is the essence of The Rolex Way: a sheer, undisrupted focus on quality and excellence in execution; and although the final piece might indeed have a profound effect, its individual parts are nothing but the result of the tireless pursuit of excellence.
Gabriele continues by saying: “The architecture of Rolex buildings is, above all, rational, and the flexibility to deal with change is an absolute given. These buildings must be a high-performance tool for the people working in them, who must also feel good there.”
What is truly fascinating is how the lead engineer’s idea for a Rolex building is so similar to Rolex’s idea for the highest-performing watch exteriors (and interiors) ever created. The Rolex case manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates is trusted with conceiving, designing, manufacturing, assembling and finishing all exterior components of a Rolex timepiece – those very components that its owner and wearer will interact with for years and decades to come.
Technology harnessed in the interests of functionality, performance and ergonomics: the spirit with which Rolex imbues its architectural achievements is a clear reflection of the spirit that guides its approach to its watches.
As such, all Rolex Oyster cases are exactly what was described just above: they are high-performance tools that have proven their strengths on the highest mountains and the deepest open waters, as well as on the wrists of all the satisfied Rolex owners all across the world.
In a dedicated article, we will look at the challenges linked to creating gold alloys in the Rolex foundry – for now, suffice it to say that having this operation under the same roof as the case- and bracelet manufacturing processes is a unique treat that provides tangible benefits throughout the production of a Rolex watch exterior.
The machining, polishing and assembling of these precisely crafted components happen here, whereas the final assembly – where the Bienne-made movements are cased up – and the final quality control tests are performed in the Geneva-Acacias site that is also home to Rolex World Headquarters.
Regardless the base material used, the use scenario, or the iconic design family that they belong to, all Rolex cases and bracelets are the results of decades of painstaking engineering efforts, unmatched know-how, and a relentless focus on achieving excellence – in every detail, as well as the ultimate sum of these parts.
Looking forward to seeing you in our next Rolex manufacture article, as well as in our Authorized Rolex Petite Geneve Petrovic boutiques in Budapest, Belgrade and Porto Montenegro, where you can experience first-hand the excellence in watchmaking that can only be achieved The Rolex Way.
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