The art of watchmaking in Vallée de Joux is more than two centuries old. It’s a continuation of the ancient iron industry, practised all along the Jura mountain chain by nail makers, locksmiths, knifesmiths and even armourers. These smiths forged hardly, as the few products of the barren soil could not alone make their living.
Today’s art of watchmaking is also the result of the dexterity that was learnt by the inhabitants of Vallée de Joux from the cutters in the country of Gex (France), where precise and repeated movements were required when cutting and polishing precious stones and coloured glass. These methods were introduced in the beginning of the eighteenth century and furthered the birth of talented watchmakers.
The primitive clocks of the Golay families in Le Brassus-Chenit are additional results of the propitious contacts with our neighbouring country of France. In 1740, a professional in the town of Rolle taught Mr. Samuel-Oliver Meylan clock and watchmaking. Despite the difficulties in the beginning, other people followed Mr. Meylan’s example and a new industry was finally established in Vallée de Joux.
From this time forth, lots of men have tried hard at their workbench, often located in the attic of their farm; those farms were often stately buildings and are nowadays recognizable by a line of picturesque windows on the roof.
Local farmers lived with the seasons and worked on the farm in summer, while in winter they “changed their profession” and became watchmakers during six months. Their works of art will remain admired forever.
Vallée de Joux is today a worldwide watchmaking reference and the jewel of first-class complication watches; our valley counts slightly more than twenty watchmaking factories and their products are exposed in the display window of every prestigious watchseller around the biggest cities in the world.