Microns hunter since 1899

In the field of stones for watchmaking Pierhor has earned a solid reputation, to the point that some brands talk about the “Pierhor quality”. What is less known is that this dynamic SME of about 70 people is also very active in the machining of hard materials for other areas such as medical, aerospace, fluidics or also electronics and sensors. Meeting with Mr. François Durafourg, Managing Director and owner of the company.

A watchmaking specialist positions turned hard metal parts to prepare them to receive the stone.
A watchmaking specialist positions turned hard metal parts to prepare them to receive stones.

The current Director took over the company in 1994 and, in a little less than 20 years, he has passed from ten employees to almost 70 today. Simultaneously his mono-market strategic direction has largely evolved, he tells us: “Our wish has been to diversify to minimize the risks related to the market conditions. During the last crisis the other areas allowed us to withstand the decline of watchmaking”. And if today the company still realises a large part of its turnover in this area, its services are beginning to be appreciated by very many companies in all areas. As an illustration, aeronautics manufacturers rely on sensors including parts made by Pierhor. Why? How?

Materials with extraordinary properties…
Ultra-hard materials require specific machining that Pierhor masters. The Director tells us: “Ultra-hard materials such as sapphires, rubies or technical ceramics offer very interesting properties, they are indestructible, ensure minimum friction, to scratch them is very difficult, they are resistant to very high temperatures, are insulating, biocompatible and much more. Very many ultra-hard materials are available on the market and very often, we advise our customers on the best alternatives for their needs”.

..realised on machines that are not less
If Pierhor has a few standard machines from the market (Gerber polishing or Schläfli honing machines for example), it is with a vast majority of machines developed within the company that the production occurs. Mr. Durafourg explains: “We have developed the machines on the basis of processes. Today, and as an example, we are cheaper than Chinese manufacturers for the production of stones for the watch industry”. The secret: A combination of process and unique know-how that allows realising these parts within micron tolerance both for dimensional and geometrical aspects. Thus Pierhor achieves the best repetabilites and almost zero PPM while some Asian manufacturers can generate two digits percentages of bad parts. Mr. Durafourg adds: “The total cost of a set is not only the sum of the prices of different parts; it must include assembly and additional costs. Sometimes using a more expensive stone proves to be less costly at the end” (for example because mounting is simplified).

Mr. Durafourg in front a new line of machines being assembled. It is through such internal developments that Pierhor can offer high quality at attractive prices.
Mr. Durafourg in front a new line of machines being assembled. It is through such internal developments that Pierhor can offer high quality at attractive prices.

Pierhor SA
C. Du Croset 9B
P.O. box 107
1024 Ecublens
Tel. + 41 21 661 28 70
Fax + 41 21 661 28 73
[email protected]
www.pierhor.com

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Do not miss the complete article in next issue of Eurotec (August). If you want to be informed of its availability send me a mail with the title Pierhor at [email protected]
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