Local History

Gnomon, Musée international d’horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds. Photo/Foto: TES.

The Watchmaking Canton

The canton of Neuchâtel is the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Farmers-watchmakers already produced clocks and watches in the eighteenth century.

La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle were the biggest producers of watches in 1914.

The unique symbiosis of town planning and industry, urban and architectural unity of these two industrial cities gave them the status of UNESCO World Heritage site in June 2009.

The Espace de l’urbanisme Horlogier in La Chaux-deFonds shows the urban development of the city (www.timExplorer.ch).

This multimedia space is entirely devoted to the watchmaking industry and town planning. Manufacturers give an insider’s view of the watchmaking production (o.a. Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Corum and Le Carrousel Formation in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Les Apprentis du Temps and Atelier micromécanique in Le Locle and Le Centre Horloger in Neuchâtel).

Several museums are devoted to the clock and watch industry: the Musée international d’horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds and the Musée d’horlogerie in the Château des Monts in Le Locle present a historical and general overview.

The collection Jaquez-Droz at the Museum of Art and History in Neuchâtel consists of music automatons and their intricate mechanisms, pieces that graced the royal courts of Europe in the 18th century.

The Musée des Mascarons in Môtiers, the Musée paysan et artisanal in Neuchâtel, Le Castel – Pendulerie neuchâteloise in Saint-Aubain and ateliers and shops in Fleurier, Auvernier, Peseux, Le Locle, La Chaux-de-Fonds are other centres of interest.

(Source: Tourisme Neuchâtel, At the heart of time, Neuchâtel, 2017; www.timExplorer.ch).