The Zenith production facility and headquarters in Le Locle, Switzerland, on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

The Zenith production facility and headquarters in Le Locle, Switzerland, on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

See the 150-Year-Old Secrets of Swiss Watchmaking at the Zenith Factory

In a recent visit to Zenith's watchmaking facility to interview Julien Tornare, the new chief executive officer who is attempting to revive the 150-year-old watchmaker following the industry's biggest slump since the quartz crisis, Bloomberg Pursuits got a tour of the inner workings of the factory. Here's what it looks like to put together a classic mechanical watch.
The Pieces
The Pieces

Wristwatch components sit ready for assembly at Zenith SA's production facility and headquarters in Le Locle, Switzerland. These tiny arms and balance wheels are all manually assembled by workers, using microscopic lenses in ultra-sterile workspaces.

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

Taking a Peek
Taking a Peek

An employee uses a loupe to inspect the mechanism of a wristwatch. The tools in the foreground are what she uses to pick up or to manipulate the almost-microscopic components.

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

Brand Loyalty
Brand Loyalty

An Zenith employee wears a Zenith watch while she inspects a watch movement. She also wears flexible finger coverings (pink, rubbery membranes) to avoid getting dust or oil into the mechanism. 

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

Almost There
Almost There

Nearly completed pilot watch movements, placed in their cases, rest upside down in a tray. The semicircles with stars at center are rotors, weighted pendulums that swing and spin to charge an automatic watch movement. The case is made of bronze, an unusual watch material popular with Zenith aficionados. It's 45-millimeters wide.

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

A Pilot Watch
A Pilot Watch

This Zenith Pilot Extra Special wristwatch needs only a strap to be ready for shipment to a customer or store, where it will be sold for about $4,300. Although the category of "pilot watches" has evolved to include many things, it was originally developed for fighter pilots who needed to be able to easily read the time. 

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

Hard at Work
Hard at Work

The Zenith watch factory in Le Locle is a spartan, state-of-the art facility uses watchmaking traditions that are more than a century old. 

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

Precious Pieces
Precious Pieces

Tiny platinum and gold components arrayed in racks in the factory.

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

Luminous Dials
Luminous Dials

The numerals on the dials of the Zenith Pilot Extra Special watch are lined in gold and filled with SuperLuminova, which stays illuminated for long periods of time in darkness. The hands, which will be added later, will likewise be plated with gold and painted with SuperLuminova. 

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

Inner Workings
Inner Workings

Movements are bored mechanically before being finished by hand.

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

The Last Steps
The Last Steps

An employee makes final adjustments to a Zenith El Primero wristwatch.

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg

Ready for Takeoff
Ready for Takeoff

These El Primero wristwatches on display at the headquarters sell for over $4,000. Like the Pilot watches, El Primeros are a key product line for Zenith. 

Photographer: Michele Limina/Bloomberg