Zenith : The Manufacture gets a facelift

Symbolising a city of which the architecture has been recently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Manufacture Zenith has just completed the first renovation phase on its 18,000 sq.m. site. While the first buildings date from the birth of the brand in 1865, the central edifice housing the various production phases spread over 3,000 sq.m. on three floors was first erected in 1904, and renovation work on it began in August 2011. By 2015, the year of Zenith’s 150th anniversary, the 19 other buildings of the Manufacture will also be renovated. Rather taking the easy road by demolishing and rebuilding the various parts of this complex site, Zenith has chosen to preserve the historical architecture which has contributed to writing some of the finest chapters in its legend, thereby making its mark on that of the town of Le Locle.

Opting for a local touch, the brand entrusted this project to architect Youri Jubin. The latter chose to keep the red bricks of the façade which are strongly symbolic of the early 20th century. Likewise, the 400 original square window faces have been entirely restored, now combining triple glazing with a jealously safeguarded historical character. Another symbol of the industrial era, the metallic structure has been carefully preserved, while applying the most modern and ecologic construction norms, such as thermal insulation and controlled air conditioning and air humidity. The interior design has been entirely rethought in order to improve the logistic flow between the ten or so production workshops grouped within the building: machining, stamping, decoration, controls, assembly, adjustment, casing up and Haute Horlogerie. Among the 350 employees of the brand, 270 work in le Locle, of whom 200 in production.



The Zenith founder Georges Favre-jacot had already developed the concepts of automation and part interchangeability, as a back-up to manual finishing and decoration, thereby heralding the advent of modern artisanal industry. During the past century and a half, the work of Georges Favre-Jacot and his successors has been crowned by more than 300 patents and 600 movement variations, along with 2,333 prizes in the field of precision timing.

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

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