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La Chaux-de-Fonds is the heart of Switzerland’s famous watchmaking industry.  The area referred to as the Watch Valley nestled within the Jura mountains above Neuchâtel.  You will see the logos of the various famous brands on buildings around town especially along the road towards Le Locle – see my earlier post on watchmakers. In 2009, La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle have jointly been awarded Unesco World Heritage status.

We could hardly find any watch stores in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Not surprising – since this is the factory town and not the retail center, which is Geneve. For those looking for a bargain, there are no factory outlets here. However, we found a few stores near the international watch museum (Musée international d’horlogerie) selling antique watches, most are not of the famous Swiss brands.

This is an interesting piece as it can likely tell a nautical story about Ulysse Nardin’s early history.  If you look closer, the dial says “LOCLE” which the small town right next to La Chaux-de-Fonds.

In the same windows are antique watching-making instruments.  While I am not a watch freak, the tiny instrument are interesting and appealing –  I also wondered who made these instruments.

I think these instruments are more collectible than the watches.

The piece above have a sticker which says “Cherche à acheter ce genre de machine” which translates to “Looking to buy this type of machine.”  There must be many such machines lying forgotten in people’s closet or basement in this area. I suspect that these shops are buying these instruments up as there are no prices listed in the window, and the pieces are probably being sold elsewhere at a higher price.

Instrument in action !

I can imagine someone using these instruments for advertisement in a shop window – serving as evidence of a brand’s long history of watchmaking craftsmanship …

Nowadays, except Switzerland, I wonder which country is still making mechanical watches.  20 years ago, I think a bunch of communist countries like East Germany, China and Russia made them, but now ?


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