Gold & Pioneer Event Bern / Biel 2011

25 to 28-AUG-2011, Bern / Biel, Switzerland

The traditional Swatch The Club Gold & Pioneer Event 2011 took place in Bern and Biel, Switzerland from 25 to 28-AUG-2011.  This time, the theme of the event was:  100% Swatch.   About 130 collectors from all around the world participated at the event, including four new Gold Members (out of eight newly selected, so four could not make it to the event).

We met in the late late afternoon on 25-AUG in three different hotels in Bern.  Lots of familiar faces, happy to see each other again (yes, this also includes Pedro :-)

The buses took us to Biel, a ride of about 40 minutes.  The Omega Museum (to be more precise:  the canteen next to the museum) was already prepared for our visit:

reception desk

After the inscription, it was time for a first glass of wine and some conversation...

A few minutes later, Ms. Emch (president of Swatch) entered the stage and gave a nice welcome speech (she had just flown in from Asia).  She announced that a new head of Swatch The Club will be appointed soon.  Another topic was the announcement of the auction of the famous Blum collection in November in Hong Kong (together with the xmas event of Swatch The Club, more details are discussed here).

a maxi of an Omega watch!

it was very warm inside!  So, time for a glass of wine on the terrace outside

The final highlight of the evening was the lucky draw for the numbers in the traditional Swatch Kiosk the day after.  Each Gold / Pioneer member had to wear a mask and to pick a number behind the white curtain...

The next morning, we had to get up very early in order to drive to Grenchen, one of the bigger production towns of Swatch in Switzerland.  We met at the ETA main building where a huge tent had been erected so that we had a nice place to stay during the day.  We were divided into nine different groups (so about 15 people in each group). 

Each group had three main activities during the day:

  1. the traditional Kiosk + final assembly of the Gold & Pioneer watch
  2. visit of ETA plant 05
  3. visit of ETA plant 08

entrance for the "final assembly" of the G&P watch

kiosk entrance

waiting for Godot?

Unfortunately, I cannot give too much details about each activity:  I forgot to take pictures in the Kiosk, and we were not allowed to take pictures inside of the ETA buildings and ETA plants.  And we cannot talk about the details of the G&P watch, all I can say right now is:  We received a special and unique swatch.  It is a limited edition of 200 pcs, numbered, and the first watch of a completely new product line to be launched later this year.  So a "teaser picture" has to be enough for now.  The final assembly of the watch was done by ourselves, this includes the final check, inserting the battery, affixing the strap etc. etc.

Update:  This is the Gold & Pioneer 2011 special:

First Swatch Touch watch given to the public!

There are several (about 8) different production sites in and near Grenchen and we visited fist "plant 05".  In this building, the following production takes place:

  • printing of the Swatch watch dials (the printer looks like a huge inkjet printer)
  • production of the Swatch watch cases (plastic)
  • production of the tools for plastic injection
  • mixing and preparation of the different colors

During the dial production, we also received a very nice special dial affixed on a very nice sheet remembering the visit.  Only 150 dials were produced. 

And later, we visited "plant 08" where the cases of the Irony watches are produced.  The details of the Irony production are also very interesting.  Did you know that a mixture of metal and plastic is injected into a metal form (which consists of several hundred parts and costs about $100.000 USD)?  The result of the injection still contains plastic and is about 30% bigger than the final metal case.  Later, the workpiece is sintered (the plastic goes away) and every metal case is polished afterwards.  For the matt Irony cases, the polished metal case is matted again...

The visits to both production plants was extremely interesting.  Due to the fact that each group was very small (10-15 people), we could see many details and watch the production from nearby.  Extra special thanks to the ETA staff and to Swatch for making this possible!!

Finally, everybody was a little exhausted....

...but we quickly recovered...

In the evening, we had a nice dinner at the Rosengarten restaurant in Bern, with a super nice view of the old town of Bern:

Great food, a nice evening!

Click here to read part 2 ("Race Day") of my GP2011 event report.

Back to Stay tuned to Swatch.