Posts tagged Switzerland

Spring Fling: Touring Switzerland's Watch Regions Is a World-Class Breath of Fresh Air

Watch lovers take note: the mountain air in Switzerland is particularly fragrant in springtime. This is especially true for those who may want to tour the famed watchmaking region in the Jura Mountains — the Vallee Joux, Le Sentier, La Chaux de Fonds. Geneva and its outlying cantons, such as Neuchatel, Le Locle, Villeret offer breathtaking views of the country’s forests, lakes and mountains, as well as of some of the most famed watch brands in the world (Oh, and let's not forget the chocolate or the cheese).

A visit to La Chaux–de-Fonds and Le Locle also gives you the opportunity to say you've been to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just about seven years ago, in 2009, these “manufacture towns” joined the select UNESCO list. The towns became popular in the end of the 17th century, when farmers turned to watchmaking to idle away the long winter hours and to earn an income to supplement their non-existent winter crops. The art caught on and the region produced clocks and travel watches for clients around the world — making it a unique place of interest.

Since the cities came under the UNESCO list, Neuchatel tourism has increased significantly, and the tourist department has even developed an exclusive program that allows watch-loving tourists to discover the region’s rich history. They are working with certain watch brands and museums to encourage them to open their doors for tours. Today, some brands offer tours on specific days via reservation.

Additionally, fascinating world-class watch museums reside in this region: The International Museum of Horology in La Chaux-de-Fonds (Musee International d’Horlogerie) and the Le Locle Watch Museum (Musee d’Horlogerie, Chateau des Monts). Both are universally acclaimed for the quality, breadth and scope of their collections and for their tireless efforts to offer a high-caliber cultural experience with each visit. Both museums have exhibits that include early automatons, watchmaking benches, tools and more.