How I built my own Swiss watch – in a day

Imagine assembling your own Swiss mechanical watch and taking it home with you at the end of the day. swissinfo.ch tried out the popular new concept run by Jura start-up Initium.

This content was published on August 17, 2020 - 11:00

For fans of Swiss timepieces, the watchmaking world can sometimes seem like an impenetrable castle. The uninitiated rarely get the chance to observe or even touch delicate mechanical watch parts.

This is what gave Mathieu Gigandet and Gilles Francfort the idea of creating Initium five years ago. Their start-up offers beginner watchmaking courses open to all ages.

The firm, which employs eight people, has workshops in Noirmont, canton Jura, and in Geneva and Zurich. It proposes various half- and full-day courses, which cost from CHF1,690-2,690 ($1,860-2,950). The price includes a handmade watch – created by yourself.

The little-known concept has taken off in recent years. Several rival firms now also offer similar courses.

Today, Initium faces an uphill challenge as it attempts to rebuild its business amid the difficult economic situation resulting from the coronavirus lockdown. Fewer foreign tourists, who made up half of all visitors to Initium’s Geneva workshop, are taking the courses. This has caused a big dent to the start-up’s finances.

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