Where Dumb and Eternal Watches Tick

Visit To The MusÉE d’Horlogerie Watch Museum In Le Locle

From the watchmaking industry in the Neuchâtel valley – Zenith and Tissot have their own seat – there is nothing to be seen here: in the meadows and forests above Le Locle visitors can retreat to the Château des Monts and enjoy mechanical works, or mass production.

On the lawn of the park you can imagine a family at the Sunday coffee, and the house seems to look down nicely with its high roof, the simple façade and the window shutters. A gravel path leads to the back, a few stone steps up and through a wooden door, which can easily stop the Jurassic winter. Inside you go over creaking parquet directly into the good room – or at least one thing happens so.

Of course, the Château des Monts does not look exactly as it is at the moment by its builder Samuel DuBois, his wife and son Philippe. After all, there were other families in the château: the son of Philippe, Frédéric-William Du-Bois, and later his niece Adèle-Rose Favre. In 1912 the founder of the watch company Doxa, Georges Ducommun, bought the property. His daughter Hélène later took her, she was married to Jacques Nardin, a grandson of Chronometer master Ulysse Nardin. He worked at Doxa and later took over the management of the company. After his death his widow sold the Château in 1954 to the municipality of Le Locle. Now the collection of watchmakers got its place. The establishment remained, as it had been since the beginning of the 20th century, when the house passed from the DuBois family to the Ducommuns. Between groups of seats, chests of drawers and mirrors, grouped around the old chimneys, there are now large clocks or showcases with automatons and watches.

Where Dumb and Eternal Watches Tick 1

From The Beginning, The Château Is Connected With Watchmaking

If the Château des Monts could speak, what would it be? Its history began when the watchmaking Le Locle brought the upswing. Already in the 1630s lived the first watchmakers in the small place, which is located in 920 meters height in the Swiss Jura.But first, Le Locle remained a peasant village. It took more than 100 years for watchmakers to make life easier for the residents. Around 1700 there were twelve watchmakers in the village, including Daniel Jeanrichard, who is considered a founder of the watch industry in the Jura of New Jura. In 1750 it was 77 watchmakers in Le Locle and in 1800, finally 850. At that time the Château des Monts was built, by Samuel DuBois (1739-1820), which also created the connection to watchmaking. For DuBois was an officer, a sworn precious metal inspector of Valagnin, and watchmaker for watches.

The only room that actually looks like a museum is in the attic. Here visitors will get an introduction to the topic of time measurement. The simplest means for this are the so-called elementary clocks, which are used by the elements for the time measurement. Thus a portion of oil in the Japanese oil clock of 1837 burns just as long as a plea could last in court. Their oil container has the form of a rat, it symbolizes the midnight hour.

Only In The Attic It Looks Like In A Museum

The more complicated instruments represent, for example, an astrolabe, the invention of which is already attributed to Hipparchy in the second century BC. Pocket watches, in turn, prove the craftsmanship of the housemakers. But the clockworks themselves also show the visitor admirable decor.

The precision clocks developed from Le Locle and the neighboring La Chaux-de-Fonds. Aregulator built around 1770 by Jacques-Frédéric Houriet (1743-1830), today in the Château, is said to have been one of the most accurate of his time. Houriet studied and worked in Le Locle and Paris, before he settled in Le Locle and made a name for himself as the “father of Swiss chronometry”. Houriets The Chronometermeister, such as Ulysse Nardin and the Jürgensen family, are the winners of the precision watches. Its companies, founded in the 19th century, still exist. Ulysse Nardin built first high-precision pocket watches, later Marinechronometer and today especially wrist watches, which are also in Chronometergüte to have.

Eternal Watches And Chronometer

But also for pocket watches, Le Locle offers a specialty: the automatic lift; his inventorAbraham-Louis Perrelet (1729-1826) introduced him in 1770. Similar to the automatic winding for wrist watches, a device at the factory takes up the movement energy of the wearer and thus tension the tension spring. That is why Perrelet’s invention was first called a “vibration watch” (montre à secousses); later, time-knives of their kind were called “eternal clocks”, because they never have to be reloaded by hand. The museum is home to two examples from Le Locle, which are attributed to Perrelet.

Where Dumb and Eternal Watches Tick 2

Four well-known men from the region and their collections devote more space to the museum. The author Maurice-Yves Sandoz (1892-1958) came from Les Ponts-de-Martel south of Le Locle. His collection also includes watches, pendulums and pendulums, but most of all, machines. The most famous piece of it is probably the “evil fairy”, the figure of an old woman of driven and gilded copper (England, 19th century). If you move your mechanism into motion, it moves effortlessly on sticks. Famous in connection with machines is the name of the watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-1790). He built, among other things, three machines in human form, written, drawn and played by organists, driven by complicated mechanics. Pierre Jaquet-Droz and Jean-Frédéric Leschot of La Chaux-de-Fonds have a table pendulum clock in the Sandoz Collection, with a songbird sitting in its cage at the end of the 18th century. The work of gold, enamel, pearls, glasspirals, brass and feathers always shows the time, but attracts the attention especially at the hour: the bird begins to sing, while the base of the cage opens and the view opens a tiny fountain with two bathing swans.

Henri Jeanmaire was born in Biel in 1914 and lived from 1988 until his death in 1992 in Les Brenets, not far from Le Locle. As a trained optician, he invented vision systems and other optical apparatus, but he also restored Boulle inlays. This technique of inlaying is named after André Charles Boulle (1642-1732) and shows the ornaments typical of the time of the French King Louis XIV: plant motifs and ribbons, but also shells, animals or dancers, musicians and fools. The Boulle watches collected by Jeanmaire are mainly from London and Paris. Its collection also includes so-called long-case watches, standing pendulums from England. They enclose work, dial and pendulum with tall, narrow housings. The oak specimen by Thomas Stubbs, for example, shows inlays of ivory, olive and ebony (London, late 17th century). Besides the time and a beater for the quarter hours and hours it offers a date display.

Silent movements and flute play

The painter Alfred Huguenin (1911-2001) left his mark in the Château des Monts. As a restorer for pendulum clock housings from Switzerland and France, he collected Neuchâtel’s wall pendulum clocks of the 18th and 19th centuries, 13 of them belong to the museum today. In addition to the simple items with robust clockwork, black housing and brass decorations, there are the more complex ones: they were manufactured for the Jura-based industrialists. The housing is characterized by more striking colors and is painted with flowers and plant motifs, in them work so-called silent clockworks, which strive only on request the quarter hours and hours. A further development of the style is shown by the wall pendulum, which probably comes from Abraham-Louis Robert of La Chaux-de-Fonds (active around 1756-1787): she decorates a rural scene painted on the console. The last style of expression is once again a distance from such scenic representations and is often used by Grande-Sonnerie-Schlagwerke.

The most luxurious wall and fireplace clocks can be found in the collection of Frédéric Savoye (1916-1993), former director and administrator of Longines . The rooms dedicated to it are suitable to the watches in the style of the time of Louis XVI. furnished. Bronze, brass and gildings emphasize the shell-like rocaille shapes, the consoles show paintings and marquetry. The movements of the clock also underscore the craftsmanship of their masters. The pendulum clock with the signature of Pierre Jaquet-Droz has eighteen flutes, which can play six manually selectable melodies (last quarter of the 18th century).

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If you leave the Château des Monts again, you are said goodbye to grandeur in the park. The back of the house is flanked by a pendulum clock made of steel, built for Emilio Stanzani by the Swiss National Exhibition in 1964, on the front a sundial in the shape of a stone stele.In a pavilion, the reconstruction of a water clock has its post, designed by the Arab scholar Al Jazarî in 1205. She has the shape of an elephant carrying a litter on her back behind an Mahut.

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