The Vallée de Joux, a geographical entity delimited between two folds of the Jura, but also arbitrarily cut by a border in the 12th century already, disposes of undeniable assets in the long term.
The advantages prevailing today have long ago been handicaps and constraints.The colonization was slow and difficult because of its situation as a closed basin at an alitude of 1000 metres, coupled with the lack of communication routes. The monastic era opens the way for the first settlers, and some families put down roots in the region.
The first settlers are suffering from the plague, from famine, fire and natural disasters. All kinds of difficulties push them to inventiveness. As an example, the fire in 1705 ravaging the greatest part of our forests. It was considered a great tragedy by the population, in particular by the inhabitants of Chenit who were the most concerned since they earned their living with the wood from these forests.
But while, on the one side, this was a misfortune, on the other side it proved beneficial for the future. In fact, as a result of this event, all inhabiants hitherto working with the wood were compelled to find other means to earn their living.
Thus, several persons, mostly among the young ones, showed a liking for arts and trades. Some even began to make wooden clocks. Little by little, the talents developed and one learned to manufacture watches and clocks in iron and brass, repair weapons, make buckles, locks, knives and so on ...
But what are the roots of this brilliant industry which produced masterpieces that are still admired today?
The watch industry of the Vallée de Joux dates back to almost three centuries. It is the continuation of the iron industries represented since immemorial times by the nailsmiths, locksmiths, cutlers and even gunsmiths. The work of these blacksmiths is a parallel activity indispensable to the poor products of an unproductive soil.
Likewise, the know-how of the 'Combiers' in precise and recurring movements needed for the cut of facets of gems and coloured glasses, lapidary industry of the country of Gex introduced beginning of the 18th century by Joseph Guignard, has contributed to the development of the watch making talents.
This is how economic and, later on, touristic development gained in importance and today allows us to admire the results.