Prix Gaïa 2004 – André Beyner, prize winner for his entire professional career
After he graduated as an engineer from the University of Neuchâtel, André Beyner led a productive career, particularly at Ebauches SA, where he first joined as engineer and was later promoted to the position of the company's technical manager before he became Deputy CEO.
In 1984, he became an independent consultant engineer. From 1993 to 1999, he was the director of the Centre Electronique Horloger III, successor of the Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH) that the Swiss watchmaking industry created in 1962 with the aim of carrying out research about application in watchmaking and the miniaturization of quartz movements. He participated in the project of Beta 21, the first quartz wristwatch released in 1967. While he was working at Ebauches SA, he also developed the production of components for quartz watches - integrated circuits, stepping motors and liquid crystal displays.
He is renowned for being the brains behind the concept and design of Delirium, the ultra-thin watch that was launched in 1979. The components were placed on the case back and for this reason, it is safe to say that the watch sowed the seeds for the future Swatch design.
Beyner thus actively participated in the evolution of the Swiss watch industry via his work and research that allowed said industry to take the necessary steps to deal with, most particularly, Japanese rivalry.
He was also committed to other research and knowledge-transmission activities in watchmaking. For instance, he was the manager and Council Secretary of the CSEM (Centre suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique, successor of the CEH), the president of both the COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) and the SOVAR Foundation (Neuchâtel-based foundation for applied and targeted research) and a teacher at the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne).