Monday, June 17, 2024

New Rolex Factory in Bulle: Another Rolex Mystery?

 New Rolex Factory in Bulle 

Another Rolex Mystery?

Rolex demand has been off the charts for decades now. I remember when I first started Jake's Rolex World back in 17 years ago, back in 2008, how the original LV Submariner was super popular and hard to obtain, which is the first time I can remember waiting lists for any Rolex, with the exception of the stainless steel Rolex Daytona models which had waiting lists for decades prior. In other words, if you walked into any Rolex Authorized dealer back in 2008, you would be able to find all the different Rolex models in the jewelers case, with the exception of the Daytona and LV Submariner.

As time went by, many more Rolex models became more popular, and developed waiting lists, and Rolex did its best to try to keep up with international demand. They even added more shift at their factories in Switzerland, but it seemed like no matter what they did, the demand kept exceeding what they could produce. 

Recently Rolex announced they would be creating a new factory in Bulle, Switzerland, which surprised me as I had never heard of Bulle. I had to even look it up online to figure out where it is located. First let's examine where Rolex watches are made, which is exclusively in Switzerland, which we see on the map of Europe seen below.

If we zoom in, to Switzerland we see Geneva, which is located in the bottom left hand corner. The Canton of Geneva, Switzerland is located on the western side of Switzerland, just next to France. If you visit Rolex in Geneva, you will witness that the vast majority of Rolex employees, if not all, speak fluent French, yet most if not all of them speak English as a second language. It is interesting to note Rolex watches have historically only used English on their dials, which is arguably the international language.

Rolex has three factories in Geneva, where they do all the final assembly, and create dials as well as bejeweled parts. These three factories are close together, and most final assembly takes place at Rolex Headquarters in Geneva. The Rolex movement factory is located in Biel/Bienne, which is located about 160 Kilometers (100 miles) north of Geneva. If you drive from Geneva, to Bienne, based on traffic conditions, it takes around 2 hours. In the image below we see Bulle located on the right side of the map, and as we see, it's about half-way between Geneva and Bienne.

If you continue driving north of Bulle you will end up in Bern, which will bring you closer to the northern border of Switzerland, which is shared with Italy. I am speculating, but I am guessing Rolex chose Bulle as the land was probably a lot less expensive than prime real estate in Geneva. My understanding is that the property they purchased was previously used as farmland. I also assume they chose this location to make it easy for watchmakers to be able to easily travel to and live near the new factory. Our Captain Danny, recently published a fascinating story titled "Rolex Reveals Details of Bulle Project", on his Rolex Blog. I reached out to Captain Danny to ask him for more detail and clarity, and he told me he discovered the story published in a local newspaper near Bulle named, La Gruyère.

Rolex created the renderings at the top and bottom of this story which show their new factory which will span 380 meters, which is 415 yards. Rolex said their goal is to give their new facility a "campus feel".

Rolex continues and said all four buildings will be used for production, and will be connected for "administration, support, catering, meeting and rest areas." Rolex also said the southern most building will house a main entrance to the site. Rolex mentioned they are making the entire campus environmentally green, including roofs which will provide solar power, and they also plan to plant 500 trees.

Having toured all four Rolex factories in the past, I can tell you I have only ever seen one other factory that matched their prowess, which was the Tesla factory located in Fremont, California. I mean, Rolex factories are elaborate works of art, that are magnificently elegant, while remaining highly utilitarian.

So the great question, which I have not been able to answer is "What will Rolex be producing in Bulle?" In other words, will they produce entire finished watches, or just components, which will be transported to Geneva for final production? I have no idea, but plan to reach out to Rolex for clarification. Wither way, what we know is that Rolex plans to launch their new facility in 2029 in the canton of Fribourg, in Switzerland.

Rolex plans to create 2,400 jobs for its fifth factory, which wills include a Rolex training center. Bullet plans to build at least two new elementary schools, and a junior hight school, as well as revamping its recreation center. The new Rolex factory is estimated to cost around a billion Swiss Francs.