Walking Through Time: 2 Itineraries in Bienne for Rolex and Omega Lovers

Credit: the very useful map above is actually from the City website, showing walking distance from main parts of Bienne. Click here for the full version.


There is a lot more to Bienne than “just” Omega and Rolex. But there is no denying that, when it comes to animating passionate discussions among watch enthusiasts around the world, those 2 brands grab the most headlines. They also happen to be the 2 brands generating the most revenue in the watch industry (although in some estimates, Cartier is ahead of Omega). As such, they are the focus of the first 2 “DIY” itineraries published on Made in Bienne. Others will follow.

How do the itineraries work?

The general idea is simple: you should be able to come from anywhere and have a simple, pleasant and cost-effective way to experience in their homeland each of the legendary brands. The proposed itineraries start from the Bienne train station, and tell you step-by-step how to get from one place to the other, by foot or by bus. Of course, you can choose to drive, take a taxi or even a helicopter like Mr. Hayek. For those with particular requirements or accessibility concerns, please feel free to contact me directly so that I can give you some tips (or a hand if I am around!).

Below is a brief overview of the itineraries. There is a link to each for the fully detailed version with all you need to know.

Immersion into Omega

The Omega itinerary is the most straightforward of the 2. With the exception of the first step, it all takes place in a single venue, and it is made seamless by the fantastic job Omega did to make it a true destination.

You will start by going to the very first place the company set foot in Bienne, when it came over from La Chaux-de-Fonds, in 1880. While there is not much to see on site, it is an important step for anyone who truly wants to get a sense of the brand’s (somewhat humble) beginnings. I recommend reading this blog post that will tell you a bit about how things took place back then.

The second leg, a short walk away, is on the site that has hosted the brand’s headquarters for now over 140 years. You will discover the imposing architecture of the different buildings, the museum and the brand’s HQ boutique. If you go on a weekday, you will truly feel at the heart of Omega, with employees walking in and out, crossing the road to the cafeteria or going from one building to the other.

Find out all you need by following this link: “Immersion into Omega” (3 hours)

Rolex Past & Present

This one was trickier to put together because the brand makes virtually no effort to publicly put forward its Bienne heritage. It is almost by accident that I realized there is a beautiful building on the hills where the first ever Rolex watches were made and that the city museum hosts the most important public Rolex watch collection.

The itinerary takes you through the origins of Rolex, its history over the years, both in terms of architecture and the models in the museum, and finally the mind blowing and gigantic modern facility where all its movements are made. As for Omega, I recommend going on a weekday to get the true vibe of the activity conducted by the thousands of employees.

In a way, this itinerary is less complete than the Omega one: no official brand museum, a production facility that is not at headquarters (in Geneva, even if Bienne is the largest site) and no HQ boutique. And yet, precisely because it is off the beaten track, almost hidden, it is perhaps more authentic. Here, you really get the insider view, at the heart of the Swiss watch industry.

Find out all you need by following this link: “Rolex Past & Present” (3 hours)

What’s next

As mentioned above, I’ll be preparing a couple other itineraries over time. Swatch is the other obvious one when it comes to brands, and then I think there should be a brand-agnostic, more generic one. In the meantime, any feedback, suggestions or requests regarding the 2 itineraries discussed today, or future ones, will be most welcome!

Subscribe to the newsletter
Get notified about new articles
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Receive the latest posts

Subscribe to the newsletter

Get notified about new articles