Swiss Mountain Time
The Michaud family has been working in jewellery and fine watchmaking for an impressive 110 years. In 2011, Jean-Nicolas Michaud opened a branch of the highly reputed Neuchâtel business in Verbier — as close as possible to the mountain he loves.
For as long as he can remember, Jean-Nicolas Michaud has spent the winter in Verbier, eagerly awaiting the first snowflakes and the chance to hit the slopes with his father, brothers and sister. What began as a family tradition has become their raison d’être, with Verbier’s booming market leading them to open a boutique there. A perfect opportunity to leave the city behind in pursuit of the blue skies and fresh air of the mountains.
“The biggest sports challenge of my life”
It was when Jean-Nicolas Michaud moved to Verbier with his family that a childhood friend introduced him to a new type of skiing: ski touring. He discovered a new-found freedom, initially laced with fear but which he gradually learned to overcome, and the sheer unadulterated pleasure of roaming the mountain. The exhilaration of cutting the first ski traces on virgin-white peaks instantly dispels all the pressures of everyday life.
It didn’t take long for Jean-Nicolas Michaud to get the PDG bug. He did his first patrol in 2014 from Arolla and did the Grande Patrouille des Glaciers along the full Zermatt-Verbier route in 2018. He describes the day as being as “gruelling as it was extraordinary” and left nothing to chance, be it his diet or his arduous training. The challenge was to stay the distance. The three friends held out and crossed the finish line in just under 15 hours. Albeit a far cry from the new record of 5 hours 35 minutes set by the Italian team, they ended the race bursting with the type of joy that can only be experienced by overcoming challenges and fears.
Tired but not exhausted, Jean-Nicolas Michaud initially thought “never again”. But the first snowflakes of winter have got him thinking... why not give it another shot after all? He’s well and truly bitten by the bug.
Verbier: a state of mind
Life in Verbier is all about skiing. But it’s also about enjoying the resort’s après-ski and the cosmopolitan ambiance. And Jean-Nicolas Michaud is extremely well placed in that regard. From his cosy boutique on Rue de Médran, he sees revellers heading towards the resort’s nightlife headquarters aka Le Fer à Cheval. Last winter, an Englishman crossed the road, beer in hand, and came into his shop, leaving minutes later with an engagement ring for the woman he’d just proposed to.
The decor and the items displayed in the lounge-style boutique capture Verbier perfectly: a mix of tradition and modernity that creates a resolutely trendy chic feel.
It’s nothing like city life, and many people who step inside the shop are kitted out in woolly hats or helmets. If it has snowed enough, they may take off their boots at the door. Some are just regular people and others become regular people while they are there: designer friends like Mads Kornerup, the man behind the Shamballa talisman jewels; international business magnates (think Sir Richard Branson); celebrities and royalty. The English and Scandinavian royal families don’t only grace the slopes of Verbier, they are also regulars at the Michaud jewellery boutique. Simple and unpretentious.