Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Watch Butler ! What's next?

At the heart of Swiss watchmaking in Geneva, The Rocco Forte Collection’s Le Richemond Hotel has introduced an intelligent new service which prospective watch buyers will find hard to resist. The hotel is the first in the world to celebrate the art, craft and expertise of Swiss watchmaking by appointing a dedicated Watch Butler.

The Watch Butler, Pierre Jacques, is the head of the well-known luxury watch boutique Les Ambassadeurs, located in Geneva’s rue du Rhone. He was previously owner and editor of the industry bible, GMT Magazine, and is an ‘Haute Horlogerie’ specialist. With access to 24 elite luxury brands – mainly Swiss-made – and also to some rare and exceptional collectors’ timepieces, he is well-placed to share his knowledge and expertise with Le Richemond’s guests, either privately at the hotel or on a specially arranged visit by limousine to Les Ambassadeurs.

The service, which is complimentary to guests staying at Le Richemond, is tailor made and starts by inviting guests to peruse a brand list before requesting to view any particular timepieces. Most of the brands available are manufactured in or around Geneva and, for added interest; the Watch Butler is also able to arrange private visits to the manufacturing sites for Vacheron Constantin, Roger Dubuis and Franck Muller amongst others.

Geneva is nothing if not the best place in the world in which to invest in a luxury timepiece. The Swiss watch and clock industry took root there in the 16th century, when Calvinist reforms banning the wearing of jewels forced the goldsmiths and other jewellers to develop a new, independent craft. By the end of the century Genevan watches were already renowned for their exceptional quality, and in 1601 the Watchmakers’ Guild of Geneva was established, as the first of its kind. A century later, with Geneva becoming crowded with watchmakers, many decided to leave for the Jura Mountains, and their successors remain – and work – in La Chaux-de-Fonds and other ‘watch valley’ sites to this day.

Over four centuries, names like Abraham-Louis Perrelet, Adrien Philippe, Frederic Ingold and Georges Lechot honed their techniques and levels of craftsmanship, and never shied away from innovation and development. As a result, Switzerland can claim an impressive array of firsts. The first wristwatch, the first quartz watch, the first water-resistant wristwatch, the thinnest, smallest or most expensive wristwatches: all came from the Swiss valleys. It is a tradition which has kept the Swiss watchmaking industry at the forefront in the world.

Guests at Le Richemond are now invited to become part of this tradition through the expertise of the Watch Butler. Les Ambassadeurs, established in Geneva in 1964, specialises in high-end luxury Swiss watches. It has a collection of vintage and antique watches and can source rare timepieces if the collector wishes. It also has boutiques in Zurich, Lugarno and St Moritz.

Rooms at Le Richemond start at 470 chf.

The Art of Watch-making Package, includes a welcome glass of champagne, breakfast, the Watch Butler Service, a Manufacturing plant visit, a visit of Patek Philippe Museum and a dinner at Le Jardin, starts at 725 chf.

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