It was an early start as The Watch Gallery team trotted off to London’s Biggin Hill airport, where we boarded a small 6 seater Breitling plane to fly out to the watch brand’s factory in Switzerland.
It was quite a bumpy take off, but once we were in the air it was plain sailing all the way. After a smooth landing in Les Eplatures around late morning, we were greeted by a beautiful sunny day and Breitling representative, Fabrice - who took us for a short drive to our lunch destination at an old Swiss farmhouse used many years ago by watchmakers.
We arrived to the sound of a traditional alphorn Horne and a glass of absinthe, followed by a delicious 3 course meal which included a particularly amazing steak cooked on an open fire. Oh, and plenty of wine to wash it down with – all in a day’s work!
After lunch, we journeyed to the Breitling factory just outside of La Chaux-de-Fonds, known as watch Valley, where the majority of Swiss watch-making companies were first established. The factory specialises in the development and manufacture of mechanical movements, all aiming to earn a COSC certificate.
I was amazed at how clean such a large building could be, when we visited the various rooms full of silent watchmakers. The smallest bit of dust or moisture could ruin the complicated movements, so the whole building was temperature, pressure and humidity controlled with the air being changed every 10 minutes.
It was fantastic to see how vigorously every part and movement was tested, it’s no wonder Breitling have the confidence in their Brand to offer a 5 year warranty on all their in house movements, which are 100% Swiss made.
I imagined rooms full of middle aged male watchmakers, but was surprised to see the majority being young woman who had to train for over 4 years to become a watchmaker.
The building itself was huge, mostly wood inside and with large widows making it extremely light. Every room was filled with high tech machinery, such huge machines for such tiny parts.
After the visit we travelled back to the airport, but unfortunately left the gorgeous weather behind. The return flight was 1 hour 40 minutes and we enjoyed a few glasses of champagne on the way home, landing back in Biggin Hill early evening local time.
It was an amazing experience and really made me appreciate the precision and hard work that goes into the making of every Breitling watch. It’s very easy to justify the price of these exceptional timepieces having seen the craftsmanship which goes into each watch.
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