High tech for precision mechanics – Richemont and EPFL to create a new academic chair

28 APR 2014

Richemont and EPFL announce the creation of an academic chair in “Multi-scale Manufacturing Technologies.” The future professor will work at EPFL’s Neuchâtel Microcity Campus, home to its Institute of Microengineering.

The continuous optimisation of manufacturing processes for mechanical components is one of the key success factors of the Swiss watchmaking industry. While traditional machining and stamping processes will continue to play an important role, emerging technologies such as laser machining, 3D printing and plasma etching are pushing the current limits to new heights of quality and performance. In order to capture this outstanding potential, Richemont and EPFL are creating an academic chair in “Multi-scale Manufacturing Technologies”. Richemont, a key Swiss player in the watchmaking and jewellery industry, will sponsor the activities of the future professor in EPFL’s Institute of Microengineering. The recruitment process has already started.

Microengineering, and the watchmaking sector in particular, are essential components of the industrial landscape in Western Switzerland. EPFL’s stake in the Microcity Campus in Neuchâtel is a clear sign of its ambition to support innovation and academic research in this field. Richemont, with its prestigious Maisons, which include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Baume & Mercier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Officine Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin and Montblanc, is a leading employer with 10,000 employees in Switzerland and a total of 30,000 around the world. This new step is a self-evident continuation of the collaboration between the two institutions.

“The creation of this new chair with Richemont is totally in line with our overall strategy for the region,” explains EPFL's President, Patrick Aebischer. “This collaboration will allow us to develop new technologies and stimulate innovation for a key economic sector in Neuchâtel.”

Multi-scale manufacturing combines disruptive technologies to produce high quality parts on any scale and at any level of precision. The integration of these new technologies in production will reinforce Switzerland’s leadership position in high-precision industries and high-end watchmaking. In particular, it will improve the performance and quality of watches, allowing for the use of new materials and enabling the fabrication of the most complex components.

“We are faced with a demanding and sophisticated client base, increasing competition and continuous technological progress. Innovation is a necessity for a major global company like Richemont,” says Co-CEO of Richemont, Richard Lepeu. “These new technologies open a wide range of technical possibilities to respond to future industrial requirements.”

By investing in this high-potential sector, Richemont and EPFL confirm their determination to play a leading role in innovation. The future professor, who will start at the Institute of Microengineering in 2015, will create an integrated platform of the very latest manufacturing technologies for the benefit of the high precision industry.

About Richemont

Richemont owns a portfolio of leading international brands or ‘Maisons’ which are managed independently of one another, recognising their individuality and uniqueness. The businesses operate in four areas: Jewellery Maisons, being Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels; Specialist watchmakers, being A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Officine Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubuis and Vacheron Constantin, as well as the Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewelry joint venture; Montblanc Maison; and Other, being Alfred Dunhill, Chloé, Lancel and Net-a-Porter as well as other smaller Maisons and watch component manufacturing activities for third parties.

Richemont ‘A’ shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange, Richemont’s primary listing, and are included in the Swiss Market Index ('SMI') of leading stocks. Richemont South African Depository Receipts are listed in Johannesburg, Richemont’s secondary listing.

About Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university. It receives students, professors and staff from over 120 nationalities. With both a Swiss and international calling, it is therefore guided by a constant wish to open up; its missions of teaching, research and partnership impact various circles: universities and engineering schools, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and gymnasiums, industry and economy, political circles and the general public.