Sunday, August 6 2006 -
It was more a sort of landing on this sunday afternoon than a common arrival to the Watch Valley from Lyon, France, through Geneva, Switzerland. After the hot weather experienced in July (38°C/100F) in Lyon, the 14°C/52F temperature was like a revival in this divine country at about 1000m altitude, Mekka of watch lovers : the Vallée de Joux, in the Swiss Jura,
The "Watch Valley", Vallée de Joux, Canton de Vaud, Switzerland. On left : Le Brassus and Le Sentier. On the right, L'Orient and les Bioux and the Lake of Joux
I was a bit impressed to be here in these villages only known of me from horology books : "Le Brassus", "Le Sentier", "Le Lieu", 'L'Abbaye", "Les Bioux", 'L'Orient"...While realizing the priviledge to be here while other places in the world are suffering of the pains and horrors of human wars..
I first passed in front of the wachtmaking school of Le Sentier, l'Ecole Technique, located one these 19th century buildings, typical of the manufactures (watch factories). One of the rare treatise of modern horology theory was written here by the best teachers.
The Watch Museum "Espace Horloger" is installed in a former factory and is open from 2 to 6 pm.
Two rooms can be visited, the first at the ground floor for temporary exhibitions (at now a collection of French comtoise clocks) and at the 1rst floor for the permament exhibition.
Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet, founders of the manufacture Audemars Piguet, still located in Le Brassus.
We are here in the country of the most famous Masters and founders of the Swiss horology ...
"Famous watchmakers in the world and in the Vallée de Joux" (Funny thing for me that only our French Kings are indicated as time marks...:-S)
(If only my workbench would be like this...)
The famous Reverso Jaeger-LeCoultre, calibre 427, Le Sentier, 1941.and a calibre 463 from 1942Here the smallest caliber ever manufactured by Jaeger-leCoultre : a stick movement 101, Le Sentier, 1929.The mythic chronograph movement Lémania CH27C12, L'Orient, around 1942. Signed Omega, in a modified tricompax version, this caliber will go several times on the moon aboard NASA Speedmaster mission watches...The first chrono with dato, Dubois Depraz, Le Lieu, around 1950
The library of the museum has a nice choice of books, including the horology modern treatise for 60 Euros - 96 Swiss Francs (the last place in the world where a "Franc" currency survives ...:-D). Jaeger-Lecoultre, Audemars-Piguet and other manufacturers offer promotional luxury books to the visitor.
The Jaeger-Lecoultre manufacture was under works. It seems that all the original buildings are still there :
The Jaeger-leCoultre manufacture in Le Sentier in the past (unknown date)and nowadays.
The "ETA Factory 24", formally Valjoux SA, formally Reymond Frères, Les Bioux, that provided most of our beloved common chronograph movements (I still have my first chrono offered to me in 1969, fitted with a 7734 that still runs like the first day). I have the feeling (that may hopefully confirmed by someone from the company?) that 7750 movments may still manufactured here.
A bit further along the lake: "Horlogerie Compliquée....", Le Lieu.Breguet at L'AbbayeThe former Lémania manufacture at L'Orient, now renewed under the name of Breguet and just connected to a modern new building on the backside
An afternoon suspended between earth and sky, in an amazing, so peaceful, paradise for amateurs of watch and horology....