Carole Forestier has been a watchmaker for more than 25 years. She spent six years studying at the Ecole d’Horlogerie de La Chaux-de-Fonds and worked at Conseilray and Renaud & Papi before joining Cartier in 1999. Here she shares her thoughts on the changes in the world of watchmaking
Six years ago Cartier was what we call an établisseur, which is an old watchmaking term for the manufacturers who make the cases but buy in the internal movements from elsewhere. Very quickly we have become a fully integrated manufacturer that makes both simple and complicated mechanical movements.
Becoming a watchmaker takes a lot of natural dexterity and also patience. Patience is probably the most important. It takes, I would say, at least 15 years training before you can be considered a watchmaker.
Making a new watch movement takes a combination of mechanical understanding and creativity. We work as a team so we have engineers who are able to calculate how things will work while there are designers who can concentrate on the aesthetics. Thankfully it’s not just one guy working on his own.
At Cartier we organise our watchmaking differently. Instead of putting watchmakers together according to the process they are doing – ie assembling, polishing etc – we organise according to the product. This means that everyone making one particular watch will be in one place, like a mini manufacture. Working like this gives us an edge in terms of quality and flexibility, because everyone is concentrating their efforts on the same end product.