I generally take two weeks off at the end of the year to recharge and do a bit of thinking. It’s a good opportunity to look back with some pause, and reflect. I try to review a bunch of things, such as how to better organize the house, better help the kids, be more effective at work, etc. As Made in Bienne truly became part of my life over the past year, I took some time to think about it as well.
It started as a guide
As you may already know if you’ve been here before, it originally started shortly before Covid. I wanted to modestly contribute to helping watch fans from around the world find their way across the dozens of brands and suppliers based in Bienne. The idea was that many owners of Rolex or Omega, many fans of Swatch, Hamilton or Hermès, to name just a few, may enjoy knowing more about the people and places behind the watches on their wrist.
While of course a lot of this had been documented and sometimes promoted, there seemed to be somewhat of a gap, or at least demand, for centralizing information about what most people consider to be the true capital of watchmaking. Initially, the content was static. A bit of a DIY tour guide, so that folks visiting Bienne could easily locate and access basic information about the main watchmaking landmarks accessible to the public. It’s basically what you’ll now find in the Explore Bienne section of the site.
Then, it became a blog
The blog piece came as a second stage. During the Covid “semi-lockdown” we had here in Switzerland (everything was closed but we were allowed to go out), I took my kids to the Lunar Module replica outside Omega and the original Rolex site. As an activity to keep them, and myself, from going crazy with homeschooling, we took some pictures. I then wrote the first two blog posts, one about the LM, and the other regarding Rolex’s beginnings.
After that, I didn’t add any new content for a few months. The static section was the key piece, and the blog posts had required a lot more research and time than I had anticipated. What made me decide to go a bit further happened via Instagram. In a comment, someone asked a question to which I didn’t have the answer. I responded I would need to reach out to the City council, and ask. When I (shyly) did, they responded enthusiastically and asked if Made in Bienne could be featured on the city’s official website (as it now is here). I was relieved: they weren’t just thinking “who is this clueless foreigner?”. Also, I was motivated to do more.
It’s at the very end of 2021 that I started producing content on a regular basis. I wanted to begin with something meaningful, that would speak to watch fans around the world. I immediately thought of Robert-Jan Broer, founder of Fratello Watches, an online publication that is extremely popular among watch aficionados. Via his collaborations with various local brands, he had been to Bienne multiple times, and could provide a global perspective on the city’s role in the watch industry. He kindly accepted after I sent my request via the contact form on the site.
The interview with RJ gave a certain level of visibility and credibility to Made in Bienne, subsequently opening doors to brands and other key players. Between those encounters, discussions via Instagram and various events throughout the year, I ended up publishing 45 posts in 2022. That is way more than I had anticipated!
For better or for worse, a personal project
One thing that’s a bit challenging for me is to find the right balance between something “public” and something “personal”. What I mean here is that the ambition of the blog is to help bring to life something that really belongs to everyone, or at the very least belongs to those who live here in Bienne: its watch scene. It’s part of the city’s heritage and identity. And yet, at the same time, Made in Bienne is a personal project. Something I do for fun, in my spare time, out of passion.
Removing the personal tone is an option, of course. I could try to present things in a very neutral, almost official way. But is that my role? No, that is for the city, the region, and their tourism organizations, who are of course much more qualified than I am to do so. The reason I use as a tagline “a watch fan in the city of watchmaking” is not to make it about me, but rather to be very clear about the limited ambition. It’s just the point of view of one person. You can think of it as Emily in Paris but without Emily, or Paris.
For better or for worse, the personal touch is central to the blog’s identity. If you or anyone you know wants to bring a different point of view to the table, of course, please do! I will happily share the link via Instagram. I am also happy to occasionally publish other people’s posts, as I’ve already done a few times. In any event, needless to say, by no means do I claim any form of ownership or monopoly over the concept of “made in Bienne”.
I don’t think I’ll publish as many posts in 2023 as I did in 2022. Not only is it difficult in terms of timing, alongside my job and family life, but also regarding quality. My goal, or resolution so to speak, for the year, is to ensure that everything published is as good as I can make it. While that will mean fewer posts, hopefully you’ll find them to be worth it.
As always, I’m very open to discussing any of this with those who are interested. You know where to find me, in the comments section below, on Instagram or email. In the meantime, I of course wish you and yours a very happy New Year, with happiness, good health and success in your endeavours.