Situated in the Jura mountains, the Joux Valley has made its name with the passage of time as one of the key localities in Swiss watchmaking.
Watchmaking began to develop in the region in about 1750, and many workshops came into being in the valley. This craft was practised as an additional business to complement farming work. The peasants put the quiet winter period to use in making watch components, which they sold on to master-watchmakers in the Vaud area. In 1776, the watchmaking guilds of the Canton of Vaud were abolished. Watchmaking apprenticeships became more liberal, as did the market for watches. More and more inhabitants of the Joux Valley took up this new trade, still in addition to their farming activity. This was the origin of the peasant watchmaker. For over a century, their prevalence marked the region.
L’essor deThe Expansion of Watchmaking in the Valley
The end of the 19th century marked the beginnings of industrialisation in Switzerland, and the valley developed in the watchmaking sector. Taking advantage of the wide experience of the peasant-watchmakers, numerous watchmaking brands established themselves in the region. The peasants left the countryside and flocked to the factories that burgeoned around Lake Joux. Since then, the watchmaking sector has continued to grow in the region, despite certain interruptions due, among other causes, to the world wars of the 20th century and the watchmaking crisis of the late 1970s.
Blancpain Sets Up in the Joux Valley
In 1984, Blancpain settled in Le Brassus to make and assemble its watches there. Since 2010, it has also had a production site in Le Sentier, where it currently employs nearly 700 people in this centre of Swiss watchmaking.