The Cartier Manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds


The Cartier Manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds

“Made in Cartier”
La Cote des Montres - December 25th, 2009

From their shapes through to their movements, Cartier watches are unique. They are the reflection of a permanent quest for excellence and an extraordinary commitment shared by men and women driven by the same passion.

By creating some of the most flamboyant and complicated watches, these craftsmen, engineers, and designers preserve the values that inspire Cartier: audacity, creativity, and a respect for tradition, as well as a spirit of innovation and attention to detail.


A precious glass edifice that crystallises exceptional expertise


Located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, at the heart of an area steeped in watchmaking tradition, the Cartier Manufacture is one of the largest fully integrated production facilities in Switzerland. Dominated by the peaks of the Jura Mountains, this precious glass edifice is a transparent masterpiece that extends over an area of 30,000 m² and seamlessly blends into the surrounding pines and pastures.

All areas of watchmaking expertise are represented here, with 175 specialties divided into three major groups: development, production, and customer services.

By uniting these activities under one roof, Cartier guarantees control of every stage of production, thus ensuring the everlasting quality of its watches.

Striking a subtle balance between cutting-edge technology and artisanal craftsmanship, the Cartier Manufacture above all depends on the outstanding expertise of over 1,000 employees from 37 countries. It features an incomparably rich blend of human resources and is the trustee of ancient know-how that Cartier is determined to preserve, both by internal training and the integration of artistic professions.

The Cartier Manufacture is one of very few facilities with the capacity to design, produce, and service its own watches and movements, whether simple or with complications, dating from yesterday or today.


“Made in Cartier”


A unique confluence between modernity and watchmaking tradition, the Cartier Manufacture gives creativity, precision, and innovation a free reign to explore new areas that guarantee Cartier excellence.

Ever since its creation, the Manufacture has distinguished itself by adopting an innovative organisation based on continuous improvement. This fundamental philosophy places customer satisfaction firmly at the heart of all decisions and gives tangible form to the “Made in Cartier” project, which was launched in 2005.

Thanks to this project, each staff member in each profession is actively involved in listening to our customers. This collective participation and commitment form the key to our continuous improvement programme, which is entirely focused on ensuring the quality of Cartier products and services.


Ideas and people


Innovating is a state of mind that the Cartier Manufacture has wholeheartedly embraced. This desire to go further is stimulated by cutting-edge technology, but principally by the creative energy of people and their ideas.

It is this vitality that the Manufacture aims to encourage with its THINK TANK project, which was launched in 2007. “One team, one place” is the concept behind this project, which brings the research and development teams together in a single building in order to optimise the organisation of time and space.

The concept enables the Cartier Manufacture to communicate and exchange ideas easily, and to witness these ideas being rapidly transformed into real products.


Shared expertise that promotes quality


This innovative temporal and spatial organisation of skills and abilities has been adopted throughout the Cartier Manufacture. The traditional approach to production, where each area of expertise is separated and isolated from the others, has been abandoned in favour of the methods used in other industrial sectors. The Manufacture is therefore organised into zones that bring together all of the skills required to produce a particular watch or movement. This teamwork fosters a commitment to share expertise and craftsmanship and helps to constantly improve the quality of Cartier creations. It is a breeding ground of skills that makes it one of the very few Manufactures capable of producing almost all of the components required by a watch or movement: cases, bracelets, straps, hands, crystals, plates, bridges, etc.

Once manufactured, the components are then passed through an air lock into the Watchmaking Area, where the movements, watch heads, and bracelets or straps are assembled. The air is constantly filtered and recycled in this area to prevent the slightest trace of dust from contaminating any of the tiny parts that make up a movement or watch.

The master watchmakers of the Manufacture assemble several hundred parts one by one, like the conductors of a miniaturised orchestra. First by hand, then using very precise tools, they painstakingly regulate the mechanical movements to ensure perfect timekeeping.

Throughout the development phase, Cartier watches are subjected to rigorous testing in a Laboratory that is dedicated entirely to quality control. Master watchmakers verify the reliability of each new model using a protocol of almost 150 tests applied to the movement, the components, and finally the assembled watch.
Supported by sophisticated technology designed to ensure a constant level of excellence in the quality of Cartier watches and movements, this process enables the master watchmakers to submit the timepieces to traditional water-resistance and shock-resistance tests and to expose the watches to extreme climatic conditions and strong magnetic fields.

The running of the movement is tested using a high-speed camera (33,000 images per second) that can detect the slightest irregularity.


Preserving artisanal expertise to meet the challenges of tomorrow


Watchmaking is a delicate art: creating highly sensitive mechanisms calls for unique expertise combined with specialist manual skills. The Cartier Manufacture is thus strongly committed to preserving the essence of this ancient savoir-faire from day to day, through activities that promote the transmission and teaching of these arts. For this reason, Cartier has set up a watchmaking school, l’Institut Horlogerie Cartier, to provide training in new skills that will ensure the future of Swiss watchmaking expertise.

Similarly, the integration of artistic crafts within the Manufacture itself, such as enamelling and gem-setting, also demonstrates Cartier’s determination to preserve these rare and thus vulnerable skills.

Much more than a watch… a heritage. Cartier timepieces are made to last forever and can be repaired at any time, as is demonstrated by the earliest Cartier creations, which are already over a century old.

Anticipating the challenges of tomorrow, ensuring the durability of its watches, and perpetuating its expertise: these are the avowed objectives of the Cartier Manufacture.

To support this utmost commitment, the Tradition Workshop calls on time-honoured watchmaking skills and tools to guarantee the repair of any Cartier timepiece, whatever its age or condition.

A daily commitment


Cartier Watchmaking is determined to contribute to the protection of the environment by applying Cartier’s Corporate Responsibility policy. This requires that the daily activities undertaken by the company and its staff demonstrate the Cartier Manufacture’s sincere desire to make constant progress in ethical, environmental, and social matters.