It’s a revelation to many that a number of the world’s finest watch brands make their homes in the Jura Valley of Switzerland, a mountainous area of the country northwest of Geneva. You can get there in an hour and half or so by train or car from Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva.
In Canton Jura, you’ll want to make stops in towns such as Neuchâtel, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Biel/Bienne, La Locle and Saint-Imier, which grew up around watchmaking and have now been collectively designated a World Heritage Center by UNESCO. You’ll find museums devoted to the trade in La Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds, the latter boasting the largest museum in the world devoted to watchmaking (the Musée International d’Horlogerie), and Saint-Imier, where the town’s museum chronicles the history of Longines, a brand that dates to 1832. Omega makes its home in Bienne, where it has a museum and offers tours of its factory in multiple languages. Or visit an authentic guillochage workshop in Saignelégier and see how craftsmen create the intricate engraved decorations that grace the faces and metalwork of fine timepieces. For more detail about the watchmaking region, go to www.juradreiseenland.ch.
But don’t overlook the opportunity to explore the international city by the lake before you start your adventure, since it is here that many of the industry’s best watch brands maintain headquarters. In Geneva, you are never very far from a remarkable timepiece, and you can experience watches here as almost nowhere else. Walk the city today and you’ll see that its pride in the glittering history and continuing pre-eminence of its watchmakers is everywhere.