Behind The Scenes At Mondaine’s Solar Powered Watch Factory
Innovative Family Watch Company
Swiss watch manufacturer Mondaine is a family company which was founded in 1951 by Erwin Bernheim. It is probably best known for the iconic Swiss Railway Clock which is instantly recognisable for its clean, easy to read design.
From the outset Mondaine has always been ahead of the time in terms of innovation, technology, ecology and sustainability. In the early 1970s they produced one of the world’s first digital watches, then they created the “Mondaine Helvetica No 1 Smart” smart watch in 2015, and in 2016 they launched the world’s first Mondaine PayChip ™.
Award for Recycling
Now in the hands of Erwin’s sons, André and Ronnie Bernheim, these key values continue to be as important as ever for Mondaine. In 1992 they were awarded the “Alp Action Corporate Partners Award” at the Davos World Economic Forum by Prince Aga Khan, for creating watch cases made from 100% scrap metal, and they continue to lead and innovate. We were therefore delighted to have the opportunity to go behind the scenes and see what it is like in the factory itself.
Located just over an hour away from Zurich on the outskirts of Solothurn in a place called Biberist we arrived at the company’s state-of-the-art solar powered watch factory. As of September 2019, all watches are largely made using solar-power and you can see the giant solar panels on the roof of the building.
We were taken on our tour of watch the making premises by André Bernheim, above. However, first of all we had to change into white coats and cover our shoes with protectors.
Dust we learned is the number one hazard in the watch making work place and everything possible is done to make the factory as clean and dust free as possible. Walking into the room in this picture above you can see the blue anti dust mat which is designed to avoid specks of dust coming in on your shoe protectors.
André explained to us the processes for how each of the key components of the watches are put together. Huge skill and great eyesight are prerequisites for this type of job.
In fact as we were shown round the factory with its focus on cleanliness and with everyone wearing white coats, it reminded me a little of a hospital.
There was huge concentration all round and extreme precision is required in assembling the delicate mechanics.
In 2017 Mondaine’s launched its “Essence” collection whereby 70% of each watch is made out of renewable raw materials. They also made the decision to scrap the traditional large square watch boxes and all their new watches come in an eco friendly felt pouch, which not only saves on transportation costs (as you can pack far more in a lory than when using boxes) – but it is also made out of recycled PET bottles too and can be used to protect your mobile phone or for sunglasses if you prefer.
Another eco initiative the company has just launched is their offer to recycle old watches. So if you have any damaged, broken or un-useable watches which are lurking in a drawer and you don’t know what to do with them, then contact Mondaine and they will aim to recycle them for you. Any make of watch accepted.
The Latest Mondaine Collection
The latest Mondaine Essence watch collection features felt sports watch straps made of Ricinus composite material and recycled PET bottles. On the underside of the strap they are lined with natural cork. There is a new selection of red plaid and black and white plaid felt straps as well as some more muted tones. All in time for the most perfect eco-friendly Christmas presents.
One of the best things about the watches is that you can change the straps very easily by simply clipping on new ones in a couple of seconds – so you may even fancy investing in a different coloured strap to ring the changes.
The Mondaine Essence watch retails at a little under CHF 200.
To find out more about the latest collection of Mondaine Watches please visit the Mondaine website here.
Alternatively you can buy Mondaine watches at good watch retailers and department stores.
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