In Switzerland, the position of the person that executes by computer the development of the movement is a Constructeur. The Constructeur can be, but is not generally a Designer. The process of designing the aesthetics of a calibre results from a form of ping-pong between the two roles. The Constructeur developing what can be made with knowledge of how to manufacture, and the Designer influencing the final aesthetic to produce a desirable product.
There are multiple CAD (computer aided design) softwares available today and their power and functionality allows for components to be designed, asigned materials, tested, analysed, animated and then produced. Although the beginnings of CAD date back to the later 1950's in 2D and then during the 1960's in 3D, the advances made over the last 20 years have changed the way we produce calibre's and the speed of the process. It has also made the process accessible and relatively easy for anybody who is motivated to learn and buy the software. However to construct a calibre that both works in functionality and longevity, and be executed in any volumes is both a science and an art, also requiring an understanding of historical calibre's.
Complications that require months of human time to finish and assemble a single piece require a different approach and entail different challenges than designing a calibre that will be produced in volume and economically demands a morning to assemble and adjust.
There are different types of Constructeur in the industry, specialising in every different sector from movements (where in there are already multiple different types), to cases, dials etc.
Some Constructeurs learn the programmes and skills directly from college and start their lives as Constructeurs, taking a CFC for 4 years followed by another 2.5 years post grad training in watchmaking, others find their way there after working in ancilliary roles.
Two examples of alternative routes taken:
2 years of training in watchmaking
2 years in microtechnology with an option for watchmaking for the BAC
2 years more for a BTS in microtechnology.
Bachelor in science, scientific maturity (Cantonal Gymnasium of Neuchâtel)
1 year at the Institute of Physics (University of Neuchâtel)
CFC of micromechanic (CIFOM Le Locle)
Technician diploma in microtechnology, CIFOM Le Locle)
4 years in a watchmaking decoration company (tooling, programming and CNC adjustment)
6 months in a company manufacturing watch components (technical drawing and CNC programming)
The two quotes below are from the two experienced Constructeurs whose journeys are presented above.
-In any case, you must have the following qualities: very good memory to pay attention to the interactions of parts and not to make the same mistakes that have been made historically. To be inventive, be meticulous, logical, and above all to control everything. And the main one, the love of watchmaking and a good knowledge of early calibre's.
-But much more than any theoretical training, I would say that the ingredients necessary to make a Constructeur are a general curiosity to understand "how does it work? And what's inside? ", An insatiable thirst for inventing any kind of mechanism, and many hours spent from childhood (and after) to play with Lego techniques.