Espace Horloger - Vallée de Joux
1347 Le Sentier
T. +41 21 845 75 45
As a reader of this blog I'm sure you already know that in the Vallée de Joux there lives a number of high end watchmaking manufactures. Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Breguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre just to name a few. There are also numerous smaller maisons such as Daniel Roth, movement manufactures such as Dubois Depraz, and a number of parts makers such as Francois Golay. What you may not know is that there is also a very nice little watchmaking museum up in the mountains - Espace Horloger, believe it or not. And it's only a short stroll from Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre.
This was a surprising little gem, and apart from a permanent exhibition on watchmaking and the history of, there is also a section of temporary exhibition which as the name suggests, changes from time to time. The tour guide is well versed in multiple languages, is extremely knowledgeable and very humorous to boot. The building that houses the museum used to be a 'maison' for watchmaking and on the top floor, a section is preserved from back in the days when watchmaking activities were the norm. You get a first hand view on how things were like 200 years ago.
However, don't assume that just because there are a lot of history in the museum, it's all... well... historical. It also utilises some of the fanciest 21st century technology. Ok, the first one, a 3D movie about watchmaking in the Vallée de Joux isn't exactly breathtakingly high tech these days, but the next bit of technology comes almost straight out of the movie Minority Report. You have a huge touch screen table, with a number of 'discs' on the side. Place the disc on the touch screen and it comes alive, with a touch menu extending out of the disc and onto the screen. Choose from the menu and it takes you through a journey right there in front of you. Move the disc and the whole thing moves with it. Personally I didn't think this sort of technology was available to the public! There are also watchmaking lessons on the big touch screen, where you can 'virtually' build your own watch, then email the final product to yourself.
At the moment the temporary exhibition is all about the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and on exhibition is the extremely rare and sought after Royal Oak A series, amongst others. Over on the more permanent exhibition, there are items ranging from clocks, animatrons, watchmaking tools including an example of the millionometre as invented by Antoine LeCoultre, and various watches on display. I won't spoil it for you. The images here are just a small sample of what's on show. It is a definite must for all watch enthusiasts. Especially if you're already making the trek up the gorgeous sweeping mountain passes (no need for an Aston Martin, a Golf will do nicely) to the Vallée de Joux to visit the various Manufactures.
Oh, and if you prefer to read the old fashioned (proper) way, they also have a ton of various watch literature for sale.
Thanks to my contact in the Vallée de Joux for the images and the heads-up on this place!