In the past, as winter numbed the Jura Mountains, farmers did not just sit and twiddle their thumbs! They worked using other, very specific skills, such as wood turning, marquetry, cutting precious stones or indeed watch or clock making. Their snowy farms then became the manufacturing and subcontracting workshops of nearby French and Swiss watch and clockmakers.
Working at the Window
From the 17th century, watch and clock making found its niche here and the rural community still reminisces about “working at the window”. Farmers increased the number of windows on the brightest side of the house, to create conditions conducive to working on a minute scale. A walk across the plateau de Maîche or in the Haut-Doubs will allow you to see these typical farms. But of course this tradition extends to the whole of the Jura. Our peasants mastered all of the production stages for many types of clocks and watches, to the extent that some of them permanently abandoned their fields and animals to devote themselves to measuring time. The watch museum in Villers le Lac and the museum of clockmaking in Morteau revive the story of these peasant clockmakers and are home to priceless collections of machines and tools, watches and clocks. The ingenuity and creativity displayed explain why the Jura Mountains are internationally renowned for watch and clock making!
This expertise can be found in schools and in the factories, allowing the area to maintain a high level of quality at an industrial level of production. Either as suppliers or under their own brand names, renowned clock and watch companies produce great ranges of watches and luxury items, demonstrating their micro-technical skills and incredible technological developments.
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