Rolex can change from imagination to reality because of Plans-Les-Ouates. Here is Rolex’s central laboratory, watch case maker and gold foundry. Plans-Les-Ouates, built in 2006, is composed of 6 parts that are 65 meters long, 30 meters high, and 30 meters high. It is the largest Rolex factory.
It should be noted that if you stand outside the building, you will only see half of the factory. Plans-Les-Ouates has 11 floors, 5 floors above the ground and 6 floors hidden underground. This factory underpins Rolex’s core competitive advantage. It is different from any other Swiss (German or Japanese) watch brand factory. Expanding the scope to the entire watchmaking industry, or even beyond this single industry, may be unique.
Visitors to the factory need to hand in cameras, mobile phones and all other digital equipment. There is an elevator in the factory, which leads to several floors underground. The floors are concrete and the corridors are very spacious. There are multiple doors on both sides. If a person does not need to enter a specific room, he will not get permission at all. For further in-depth visits, an authorized guide is required to check with an iris scanner.
Under the factory are two 12,000 square meters of vaults connected by 1.5 kilometers of rails, which can transport more than 2,800 parts pallets per hour, covering 60,000 storage rooms and workshops upstairs. If the upstairs workshop needs a certain part, from retrieval to delivery, the entire system takes only 6 to 8 minutes. This is Rolex’s automated inventory management system, synonymous with efficiency.
Rolex has its own foundry, which is mainly used to produce three kinds of gold and 904L composite steel with exclusive formula. why? Rolex is Rolex. Each alloy that Rolex uses is produced entirely by the brand, because Rolex knows that the alloy composition is the most important factor determining the aesthetics, mechanical properties and dimensional characteristics of the watch.
Rolex has the ability to produce these exclusive materials because Rolex dares to be the first in the industry, investing in many watchmaking brands and even dare not imagine. Plan-Les-Ouates has a central laboratory that employs world-class experts in not only materials science, but also tribology (friction, lubrication and wear) and chemistry. This is an extraordinary laboratory, incredible testing, and self-developed machinery (for example, Rolex has developed a machine that can open and close the Oyster buckle 1,000 times in just a few minutes), which is actually the most impressive The deepest is the technicians who work here, they are not 100% from the watch industry.
The Rolex Ceramics Division is also industry-leading. Although we have only seen it used for bezel production so far, the Rolex team is passionate about the future possibilities of ceramic materials.
Surprisingly, the factory also has a finishing (retouching) department. Rolex will retouch watches, professional and skilled, but not traditional aesthetic decoration, that is what consumers are always looking for when inspecting fine watchmaking, not Rolex style. The Rolex watch case is polished by hand, just like Jaeger-LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet. At any given time, 50 to 60 employees are polishing the case.
The artificial elements in Rolex’s watchmaking are far more abundant, real and important than imagined. The chamfered outer edge of the old Rolex case is very beautiful. In fact, the current retouching effect is not inferior to it. As long as Rolex thinks, they can easily bring them back to the watch fans. The assembly of the Rolex Oyster trademark and the Jubilee bracelet is also completed by hand, and of course, the guidance template used is also manufactured by Rolex. (Photo / text watch home compiled by Xu Chaoyang)
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