Switzerland is famous for a few things; cheese, chocolate and watches! Let’s just say, we are no experts on cheese or chocolate but we certainly know how to enjoy and appreciate them. What we don’t know too much about: watch-making.
La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle exist because of watches and they owe it probably to some clever town planning from the 19th Century.
Up in the Espacite Tower (which the locals deem an eye-sore – it is rather out of place), we get an almost 360-degree view over the Old Town of La Chaux-de-Fonds and what we see resembles almost a life-sized Lego town (or a row of houses on a Monopoly board). This is how architects turned the art of watch-making into an industry.
The buildings are neatly lined up in parallel rows in a grid formation with wide streets between each row. If you look carefully, there are unusually a lot of windows on the sides of the buildings, spaced quite closely together.
And what was the purpose for this design?
To allow maximum natural light to flood through the windows, especially into the top floors of the buildings so watch-makers could work with the tiny mechanics of watches. Light is of the essence here!
Each building would have watch-makers who specialise in a particular component of the watch and when the part was assembled, there would be young runners that would take that part to the next appropriate building for the subsequent part to be assembled/added. This process continued until the watch was complete.
And why the wider streets?
During winter, being 1000 metres up in the Jura mountains, it snowed a lot. To ensure the continuity of watch manufacturing, historically, the streets needed to be manually shovelled so that the runners could continue to access all the buildings.
After exploring the town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, we had the time (no pun intended) to visit Le Locle Watchmaking Museum, which is in Chateau des Monts. The museum has on display an extraordinary collection of clocks, mechanics and exhibits of the art and science of time, in particular, time-keeping!
The collection was so extensive, we were just in awe. To see all the different devices from around the world through history that essentially do what our wristwatches do every second, every minute of every day. We surprised ourselves with how fascinated we found time-keeping, we even wanted to buy a grandfather clock for our apartment :) .
After this unique visit to the two towns, we certainly will be looking at clocks and watches in a different light. This is one of the reasons we love travelling so much, it is these types of places that we get to visit that enlightens us, resulting in us having a greater appreciation for the little things in life we sometimes take for granted.
La Chaux-de-Fonds/Le Locle, watchmaking town
planning was listed as a
UNESCO Heritage site in 2009.
To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited,
visit our unofficial bucket list
Your comments are always welcomed.
So it is all over! Now that we have completed the Camino, we can share the final instalment to our photo essays. If you have not seen the other 2 parts, part 1 covers St Jean Pied de Port to Belorado and part 2 covers Belorado to Astorga.
This final series is from Astorga to Santiago de Compostela.
Hope you enjoy the photos.
And as we are now not focusing on walking the Camino, we are back in full swing in the blogosphere once more :)
Enjoy your week ahead!
As always, we welcome your comments.
Rainbows occur because of refraction so this is our photo for the Daily Post challenge this week. This was taken as we left Atapuerca, Spain on our Camino which has ended today!
Our 800 km walk has officially finished. We will post the last photo essay of the series in the next few days. If you have not seen, part 1 and part 2, please do check them out and we welcome your thoughts.
Have a great weekend!
This week’s photo challenge theme is rather fitting for the morning we had on the Camino today as we came over the hills and looked down into the valleys. We were so high that the morning mist was below us and we could only describe it as DREAMY.
Have a good weekend, folks!
Happy to hear your thoughts on whether you thought this was dreamy, click here
Ok, so we have just completed another 12 days of walking and have under 280 km (of 790km or so) left to go! We are stoked to have been able to achieve this :)
Here are our photos snapped between Belorado and Astorga which means we are in our final 12 days of walking now!
Hope you enjoy the Camino from our eyes.
Wishing you a wonderful day!
Looking through our photos, we had a good laugh at this picture as it was just so “busy” with signs of all types!
Why did we even take this photo? Thankfully, we saw “Mont St Michel” amongst them so remembered we took this on the bus on our way to Mont St Michel in France.
We felt this was perfect for this week’s photo challenge.
How many different signs can you count in this picture?
Have a great weekend!
Seeing as we are still on the Camino, here is another photo from our collection.
When leaving for a day of 20+ km of walking, the sun is rarely up. This is our nighttime photo from Santo Domingo de la Calzada for the Weekly Photo Challenge.
What words come to mind when you look at this picture?
Feel free to leave us a comment here.