The Vallée de Joux

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The cradle of prestige watchmaking

No other region has made such a big contribution to the history of watchmaking as the Vallée de Joux. Nestling in the Jura Mountains, along the French border, the Joux Valley specialised in micromechanics several centuries ago. The farmers turned to the fabrication of components for watches during the harsh winters, when snow fell in abundance and they found themselves cut off from the main towns. Both men and women busied themselves labouring on workbenches bathed in natural light. Over time, the watchmakers developed their skills and broadened their range of operations, progressing from the fabrication of components to the production of complications. In fact, by the middle of the 18th century, the Vallée de Joux watchmakers had gained such a reputation that the Swiss watchmaking firms, especially those in Geneva, relied on them to create and produce their most prestigious complicated watches.

At the time, the watchmakers in the valley supplied what were known as ébauches, namely complicated movements that the watchmaking firms could further decorate before adding their cases, dials and hands, then selling them under their name. Thus, even though the watchmaking brands claimed the originators of these watches, which they still present today as an integral part of their legacy, the movements came from the Vallée de Joux. Many of the most celebrated movements came from the Louis-Elysée Piguet company, one of the founding branches of Blancpain. In the Joux Vvtoday, there are many families whose ancestors include several generations of watchmakers, who perpetuate the profession, paying tribute to local traditions. Blancpain feels particularly attached to this region. One of its constituent branches, dating back to 1859, had set up business in the village of Le Brassus – and opened a workshop there in 1891.

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