I’ve had the privilege of touring a handful of watch factories, and every single one of them has been remarkably different. Some are glorified workshops primarily focused on the assembly of pre-fabricated parts, while others are giant industrial warehouses packed full of autonomous robots and multi-million-dollar CNC machines that work tirelessly around the clock to turn raw materials into finely finished components. However, while in Geneva for Watches & Wonders 2024, I had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Franck Muller manufacturing facilities (formally known as Watchland), and even before I set foot inside a single building, it was immediately apparent that this “factory” is truly unique and special.

Located in Genthod, which is a countryside municipality within the canton of Geneva, Franck Muller’s Watchland is a truly picturesque destination that resides on dozens of acres that form the brand’s headquarters. Frank Muller manufactures 100% of its dials and cases, and while certain things like dial production and case stamping are carried out at the brand’s other production sites located within the Jura Arc, Watchland is responsible for everything else, including the machining of movement components, all aspects of finishing, and the final assembly of its timepieces.

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Despite being a thoroughly modern production facility with state-of-the-art equipment, nothing about Franck Muller’s Watchland complex even remotely looks like a factory. When you first step foot on the perfectly manicured grounds, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you have stumbled upon some glorious residential estate, as the terraced landscape sits on the shore of Lake Geneva with the peak of Montblanc visible across the water.

Founded in 1983, Watchland started as a single mansion originally built in 1905 that was converted into the brand’s headquarters, and throughout the years, it has expanded to create the multi-building estate that exists today. In response to the growing success of the brand, Franck Muller added two additional buildings in 2000 that follow the same aesthetic as the original 1905 mansion, and two more buildings of a similar style were added in 2019, which enabled the brand to consolidate the bulk of its manufacturing operations within a single location.

All five of the buildings follow the same countryside mansion design ethos, and the reason for this has to do with the laws of the municipality, which requires that new buildings fit into the old-world aesthetic of the region. Rather than being giant boxes made from metal and glass, the buildings that form Watchland are ornate and beautiful, and any one of them could easily be mistaken for an extravagant and luxurious home — until you step inside.

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Despite their mansion-style outward appearances, the interiors of the buildings that form Franck Muller’s Watchland complex offer a wide variety of different manufacturing facilities. Some buildings have floors that are packed wall to wall with giant CNC machines that shave down bricks of metal into small movement components, while others have ornately carved wooden walls and are lined with watchmaker benches illuminated by warm natural lighting.

Each building at Watchland is a tiny labyrinth filled with rooms that carry out the different stages of the manufacturing process. Behind some doors, you will find anodizing and electroplating stations, while others reveal old-school lathes and elaborate polishing machines. With that in mind, there is a clear method to how Watchland is structured, and each building plays a defined role within the manufacturing process of Franck Muller’s watches.

Although the rough case stamping is carried out at one of Franck Muller’s other Jura-based facilities, all of the machining, shaping, and finishing is conducted at Watchland, and it is here that the cases realize their final forms. Metal shavings from the machining process get reclaimed so that they can be recycled and smelted back into usable blocks for future components, and each machine is dedicated to a specific alloy, which allows the different types of metal shavings to be separately collected during the recycling process.

Franck Muller also uses carbon fiber for some of its watch cases, and while the core concept behind their production remains largely the same, carbon-based materials require a slightly different manufacturing process. Small bricks of carbon fiber are created by compressing thin layers of the material for nine hours at 120 degrees Celsius. From here, dedicated machines start cutting and milling the blocks in a multi-stage process until the final shape of the case has been achieved, and just like all of Franck Muller’s cases, the various carbon fiber components are hand-finished to provide them with their final appearance.

In their raw form, the bricks of carbon fiber consist of densely packed woven layers, and the machining process reveals the distinct lines and striations that can be observed in the final product. To achieve its signature Damascus Carbon cases, the layers of carbon fiber are fused with thin layers of colored fibers, and when the raw blocks get milled into cases, colorful stripes appear, with each case offering a slightly different pattern than its siblings.

Inside the building immediately to the left of the original 1905 mansion are workshops that carry out the final assembly of the brand’s most complex creations. Unlike the industrial interiors dedicated to the machining and polishing stages of the production process, the assembly rooms maintain the old-world elegance of the building’s exterior, and they are characterized by carved wooden walls, ample natural lighting, and glorious views of the picturesque landscape. Personally, I don’t know how any of Franck Muller’s watchmakers actually get their work done, as I would be too tempted to spend my days gazing outside the windows at the natural beauty that surrounds Watchland.

Despite carrying out incredibly high-level work, the overall atmosphere at Watchland is very serene and relaxed. While a general sense of calm is a constant theme inside nearly all assembly rooms, the entire Watchland complex is characterized by a noticeably more laid back vibe than other manufacturers, and all of the employees legitimately seem at-ease and happy. The individuals that you see enjoying coffee and a cigarette while laughing with their coworkers on break in the courtyard are the same people that you later encounter operating the CNC machines or wearing loupes and assembling highly complicated movements. Regardless of whether or not everyone actually loves their day-to-day obligations, I was left with the strong impression that all of the workers genuinely enjoy being a part of Watchland.

Compared to other brands, Franck Muller does very little to shine a spotlight on its manufacturing process, and this is somewhat of a shame considering that the brand is responsible for producing the vast majority of the components that are used to make its watches. However, there are no smoke and mirrors when it comes to Watchland, and traversing through the various buildings allows you to see the manufacturer’s entire production process, as it turns raw materials into complete and functional timepieces. With that in mind, Franck Muller’s production facilities are open to the public, and those who wish to visit Watchland can make an appointment to tour the grounds and get a first-hand look at how the famous Swiss brand creates its watches. For more information on Franck Muller watches, please visit the brand’s website


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