Wednesday, 21 March 2018

La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle, Watchmaking Town Planning

Another UNESCO site that we visited after moving to Switzerland was La Chaux-de-Fonds where the highest point was the visit to the International Museum of Horology. Some of the most amazing devices to measure the time can be found here and a lot of them made in La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle.
The cards of La Chaux-de-Fonds show pieces of art of the museum's collection.

Building of control of works in precious metals, Synagogue and golden watch by Paul Ditisheim, style "Art Nouveau", 1901 

The site of La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle watchmaking town-planning consists of two towns situated close to one another in a remote environment in the Swiss Jura mountains, on land ill-suited to farming. Their planning and buildings reflect watchmakers’ need of rational organization. Planned in the early 19th century, after extensive fires, the towns owed their existence to this single industry. Their layout along an open-ended scheme of parallel strips on which residential housing and workshops are intermingled reflects the needs of the local watchmaking culture that dates to the 17th century and is still alive today.

Masonic Lodge "L'Amitié" and Waltham triangular wristwatch, dial with Masonic symbols, 1960 
The site presents outstanding examples of mono-industrial manufacturing-towns which are well preserved and still active. The urban planning of both towns has accommodated the transition from the artisanal production of a cottage industry to the more concentrated factory production of the late 19th and 20th centuries. The town of La Chaux-de-Fonds was described by Karl Marx as a “huge factory-town” in Das Kapital where he analyzed the division of labour in the watchmaking industry of the Jura. - in:

Musée International d'Horologie and regulator with calendar by Robert Robin, 1796
In 1865 the Watchmaking School of La Chaux-de-Fonds had the idea of putting together a collection of old clocks. This resulted, in 1902, in the opening of a small museum in the same building as the school. The collection gradually grew and the museum was enlarged three times, in 1907, 1952 and 1967.
It finally became clear that the premises were no longer suitable for a permanent and functional display of the whole collection. The Committee of the Museum therefore suggested to the Municipality of La Chaux-de-Fonds that a foundation should be set up with the purpose of promoting the construction of a new building. Opened in 1974 under the name of Musée international d'horlogerie, this was characterized by a conception and techniques in the avant-garde of architecture and museography. Three decades later its construction is as fascinating as its exhibits. - in: wikipedia

Le Locle
This postcard was sent by Steffi

Le Locle is a municipality in Le Locle District in the Canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. It is situated in the Jura Mountains, a few kilometers from the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Le Locle is known as a center of Swiss watchmaking, even cited as the birthplace of the industry, with roots dating back to the 1600s.
The town's history in watchmaking is documented at one of the world's premier horological museums, the Musée d'Horlogerie du LocleMonts Castle, located in a 19th-century country manor on a hill north of the city. - in: wikipedia

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