We have performed an overview of the four Rolex manufacturing sites in our previous article (https://www.petite-geneve.webflow.io/our-stories/rolex-manufacture) and so it is now time to begin touring these illustrous and industry-leading facilities, one by one. We shall begin with a closer look at the one closest to the "heart" of every Rolex watch: the Bienne site.
It is where all activities related to the manufacturing and assembly of Rolex Manufacture Calibers is performed – all designed, made and tested to power Rolex's entire production of watches, all of which at the forefront of contemporary watchmaking as Superlative Chronometer.
First, allow us another word on the performance of these movements, just so that we provide a clear understanding of what is being produced within the walls of Rolex's Bienne site.
Every Rolex Manufacture Caliber inside every Rolex timepiece carries on the name, heritage and provenance of Rolex – a delivered promise on outstanding timekeeping performance, durability, reliability and functionality.
Before a new caliber was to make it into production, its conceptually and physically tested to determine it is ready to take on the pressure that all Rolex Calibers carry with them.
Today, Rolex Calibers are in the process of stepping up as a new generation of watchmaking, continuing to lead, thanks to their entirely redesigned going trains, enhanced escapement efficiency, extended power reserve and other features.
Opened in 2012, Rolex's state-of-the-art Bienne site is the result of a major strategic construction project, among the largest of its kind in Switzerland.
Spread out over 92,000 square meters of space – the equivalent of almost 13 football pitches –, it is here where all machining, stamping, heat and surface treatment, maintenance, laboratory and final assembly activities needed to manufacture the watch movement are performed.
The building that comprises seven floors, including three basement levels – generally it is here, on the lower floors that we find the gargantuan machines that are of immense size and weight, capable of machining parts with down to one thousandth of a millimeter of accuracy, with up to over 100 different tools. It all took three years to construct and fit with the latest, cutting edge and often tailor-made machines, robots and, of course, watchmakers' benches to ensure utmost efficiency and quality in productivity.
The manufacturing-rationalization offered by this new facility and the accumulation of different manufacturing operations improves the circulation of people and products, owing to, in part, the 46,000-compartment automated storage system that is capable of delivering any Rolex movement component quickly and accurately to the workstation where it is required via 22 stations and more than 1,200 meters (!) of rails throughout the site. Fourteen pick-and-place robots help deliver packages within the storage system, working through four towers that are over 24 meters (about 8 stories) tall.
It is easy to see how producing such a variety of complex and refined mechanical watch movements could not be done in another way but with a perfected system in place. Further improving the working environment are seven-meter-wide light wells, which deliver crisp Swiss sunshine to lower levels of the building, raising spirit and filling the spaces with natural light. Over 2,000 people work here, including the chefs who run the 450-seat in-house restaurant.
It truly is as though a spaceship had landed in Bienne with the 2012 opening of this outstanding movement manufacture of Rolex. Energy efficient and eco-conscious, with an underground tunnel connecting this to the management and administrative offices just next to it.
With the completion of its four-facility manufacturing system, Rolex further advances Swiss fine watchmaking and writes countless more legendary chapters in horological history.