VC opens new work shops in Le Brassus (Vallée de Joux)

from the press release

It is in Le Brassus, a village located at the heart of the Vallée de Joux, that Vacheron Constantin has decided to unite under one roof its watch component production activities previously spread between three different buildings. The global investment amounts to over 30 million francs. Above and beyond the geographical regrouping aspect, this new move by Vacheron Constantin is part of a long-term vision, since this entity – encompassing cutting-edge technologies alongside exclusive manual traditions – is designed to accommodate even larger staff numbers in future in order to keep pace with steadily growing demand. Whereas the Manufacture in Le Brassus is exclusively dedicated to watch component production, other tasks such as movement assembly, casing-up and final controls are handled in the Manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates.
VC opens new work shops in Le Brassus (Vallée de Joux)

A watch component manufacturing facility equipped with high-performance machinery and organised according to a modern and efficient production process: the new production facility that Vacheron Constantin has just inaugurated in Le Brassus is propelling the brand towards a well-programmed future.

VC opens new work shops in Le Brassus (Vallée de Joux)
Designed to meet the ever growing requirements anticipated for the coming years, the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin in the Vallée de Joux will house over 200 employees – out of the total 900 currently working for the brand – by the end of the year and could well accommodate over 300 by around 2016-2017. As well as representing an efficient, high-performance production facility, this new Manufacture testifies to Vacheron Constantin’s determination to integrate a consistently larger range of professions and to produce all its mechanical movements while having 100% of its production certified by the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva.
“This new component manufacturing site is a significant step for our Maison”, points out Juan-Carlos Torres, CEO, Vacheron Constantin. “Not only will it enable us to develop our production capacity and to incorporate new skills, but it even more significantly demonstrates our confidence in the future and our capacity to look to the long term.”
Innovative work organisation
Over 40 professions are now exercised within the 7,000 square-metre production area available in the new Manufacture in the Vallée de Joux. From prototype-making to decoration as well as lab work, technological research and machining, the entire production chain for the parts required to make Vacheron Constantin mechanical movements is now operational in Le Brassus. Once finished, the components are transferred to Plan-les-Ouates where the movements are assembled, rated and cased-up, while the watches are tested according to the Hallmark of Geneva criteria.
Geneva-based brand Vacheron Constantin enjoys longstanding ties with the component manufacturers of the Vallée de Joux. From the early 19th century onwards, it called upon the expertise cultivated in the region and established close and enduring relations with first-rate suppliers. Vacheron Constantin is delighted to be further reinforcing this loyalty to a region and its acknowledged skills.
In addition to its modern conception, the new Manufacture in Le Brassus stands out from other watch production sites in terms of the organisational system put in place – a Lean Manufacturing system that has proven its worth in other industries and that Vacheron Constantin has adapted to the specific characteristics of high-end watch component production. This type of organisation, no longer based around workshops but instead on production flows by process or by product line, gives employees greater responsibility while improving quality and reducing transit times. Whereas the work organisation has been rethought, the age-old gestures and skills involved in these processes remain unaltered. For such is the fundamental reality of this new Manufacture in Le Brassus, where state-of-the-art technologies rub shoulders with tradition and hand craftsmanship.
Everything is decorated by hand!
Every single part of Vacheron Constantin’s mechanical movements is manually decorated on all faces, even those that will remain forever hidden – such as the decorated faces of a bridge or a plate that are subsequently fitted together. Only a very small number of manufacturers still comply with such high-level finishing standards. By way of example, one may note that the chamfering alone of the components of an openworked tourbillon requires over a month’s work by an experienced chamferer; while the tourbillon carriage bridge calls for around 12 hours of chamfering, and each tourbillon has two of them. Along the same lines, over 1500 separate ‘beads’ or spots composing a circular-grained or stippled motif must be arranged in perfect succession on the small surface of a self-winding movement’s mainplate. Each of the operations – chamfering on a lathe or with a file, straight-graining, creating a matt effect, straightening, circular-graining or creating a Côtes de Genève motif  – calls for exceptional mastery and dexterity.
VC opens new work shops in Le Brassus (Vallée de Joux)

VC opens new work shops in Le Brassus (Vallée de Joux)

In-house training and preparing the next generation
In parallel with the building of this new Manufacture, Vacheron Constantin also shoulders its responsibilities in the field of training and education. There are no official training courses for the most remarkable manual watchmaking skills – precisely those that demand the most dexterity and experience such as the decorative crafts. That is why Vacheron Constantin has set up in-house training programmes for its employees who perform these meticulous decorative operations that will make all the difference and represent the unique signature of a Vacheron Constantin watch. In the same spirit, the Manufacture in Le Brassus will in due course handle the training of apprentices in all sectors of production.
The Vallée de Joux and Geneva: expansion of both sites
Alongside this new entity in the Vallée de Joux, Vacheron Constantin is also building its future on the site of its Geneva-based headquarters, since the Manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates is currently undergoing substantial extension work. Its surface is set to double and thus reach a total 17,000 square metres. This extension of the Manufacture should be operational by the first quarter of 2015. 
Great move. But I hope VC annual output will still remain
10/15/2013 - 19:28
Relatively low. I hope it does not go upto 38 k plus like some of its competitors.
So close and yet so far
10/15/2013 - 21:20
Another reason to return to the Vallée de Joux... Congratulations to VC on this big expansion and presence in the heart of Swiss watchmaking history!
Looking towards the future with confidence and commitment...
10/15/2013 - 23:53
A robust business plan is a prerequisite if a company is to maintain or improve it's competitiveness in the market place. Investment, in all it's guises, is long term particularly in this type of business. It's reassuring to see that the momentum continues unabated at VC ensuring the brand remains in the forefront for innovation, technology and design. Thank you Alex for the very interesting copy and the supporting photographs. Regards Tony
Re: VC opens new work shops in Le Brassus (Vallée de Joux)
10/16/2013 - 04:13
Hi Alex, When I was at the Manufacture in 2006, all the CNC work was done there in Plan-les-Ouatres. Now I presume it will be done in the new facility. This moves raises 2 interesting points. 1. All the space that will be freed up will likely be allocated to something else. Could it be a consolidation of the Arts Metier and fine finishing, or possibly an increased area of assembly. 2. The increased area in the new facility will likely either increase production of parts (with more room available) and/or open a new area of research and experimentation. Just my 2 cents worth of speculation. But it sounds like VC has a long-term view! Joseph
The CNC machines in fact were always in the Vallée de Joux as
10/16/2013 - 11:36
the Geneva building is too small to house all these machines.  The opening of the new facilities will enable the increase of production of components which will also means faster delivery times. R&D will be splt between Geneva and Le Brassus. The majority of component finish will be done in Le Brassus
Re: The CNC machines in fact were always in the Vallée de Joux as
10/16/2013 - 14:24
Thanks, Alex.
Thanks Alex.
10/16/2013 - 16:41