the World Capitals of the Watch Industry
The towns of Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds in the canton of Neuchâtel were built for the watch industry and watchmakers. The history of craftsmanship and industry is reflected in the architecture and town planning. Nowhere else in the world has the watch industry left such clear and well-preserved traces of its development in an urban environment.
The town of Le Locle is the oldest municipality in the Jura Mountains of the canton of Neuchâtel and is considered the cradle of the watch industry. The first watch factory was founded in 1705 by Daniel Jean-Richard (1665-1741). Since then, the watch industry has been booming in the region (and Switzerland).
The city of La Chaux-de-Fonds was also built for the watch industry. The village burned down almost entirely in 1794. The reconstruction was wholly dedicated to the watch industry, the work, the workshops, warehouses and (comfortable) homes for the workers. In the second half of the 19th century, the town developed rapidly. In 1857 the city got one of the first railway lines of Switzerland.
The watch metropolises La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle have a watch museum with an impressive collection of the most beautiful watches from the last centuries. The watch industry is still crucial to the region and the Fin de Siècle, the time around 1900, can yet be seen everywhere in architecture and beautiful public and private buildings. (Source: Musée d’horlogerie du Locle, www.mhl-monts.ch)