Any luxury watch pilgrimage must surely begin in the Swiss town of Valleé de Joux. The Valle de Joux is located within the Jura Mountains and the valley continues down into what is, technically, France. Most of the iconic, expensive Swiss watchmakers that artists like Jay-Z and Beyonce namecheck in their songs are based in here: Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoulture, Patek Phillip, Blancpain and Audemars Piguet.
A thriving culture has built up around the prestigious watchmaking industry and the area can offer unrivalled thrills for the amateur luxury watch collector.
Here’s a countdown of the five best experiences the Valleé has to offer.
1. Watch Making Initiation Center
You can spend a day making watches with a living ancestor of the Piguet family! Spending the day under the instruction of Mr. Olivier Piguet, you’ll produce your own mechanical skeleton watch. A truly special experience that can’t really be rivalled anywhere else in the world.
As you can probably guess from the name, this is the region’s famous watchmaking museum. The museum may be a tribute to one of Switzerland’s oldest traditions but the museum itself is thoroughly modern with all of its displays being interactive and created with a mixture of real object displays and digital media. We really recommend this one.
3. Vacherin Cheese Center
Sharing its name with the watchmaking house of Vacherin-Constantin, the cheese produced here is known as Vacherin Mont-d’Or. As well as sampling this very unique cheese, you can also buy a range of other foods produced in the region such as the fine honey and sausages.
4. Go skiing
The region’s ski slopes have something that’s suitable for every level of skier. There’s also every variety of ski sports you can think of on offer. Le Joux specialises in the ‘after-skii fondue’, which is absolutely delicious, so you might want to skip straight to the après-ski if you’re feeling peckish.
5. Spa at Hotel Les Horologers
There are a few good spas in Valleé de Joux, but of course we have to recommend that you visit the one at Hotel Les Horologers. After all the sporting fun in the Valleé de Joux, a spa is the perfect way to relax your aching muscles after a day’s Nordic walking, skiing or sailing.
The region makes it easy to combine a bit of good clean educational fun with unique sporting experiences and luxury relaxation experiences. If you want history that isn’t dry, you can’t really do better than this unique Swiss area.
Why is the Valleé de Joux so unique? You can thank the forefather of Protestantism, Jean Calvin, who banned the wearing of jewellery in the city of Geneva in the year 1541. The gold and silver smithers of the city had the wits to transform themselves into watchmakers to protect their livelihoods.The Swiss brands mentioned here are available online at http://www.watches-of-switzerland.co.uk/.
Under this most unlikely of scenarios, the early beginnings of the international luxury watch market emerged. Nowadays, it’s a fantastic place to holiday and check out the fantastic culture which continues to flourish in the region.