Fondation Horlogère
Fondation Horlogère

Overview of the Jura watch-making history

The Jura watch-making history takes root in the Franches Montagnes when in the XVIIIth century, farmers begin making watches and parts of watches by taking example on their neuchâtelois neighbors. It is the time of the farmer-watchmaker and the établissage. The farmer becomes watch-making after the works of fields mainly in winter.

The XIXth century is going to see the birth of several big watch-making houses in the Franches Montagnes of which some remained until today. It is in particular the case of the famous house Baume & Mercier settled today in Geneva. It was born in Les Bois in 1830.

It was also during the XIXth century when the watch-making established in Porrentruy and in Ajoie at the instigation of the prefect of Porrentruy Joseph Choffat's district. Workshops of watch-making opened to Porrentruy and they continue to multiply after 1850. Besides, the watch-making developped in Saint-Ursanne, Bonfol, Villars and Fontenais. Ajoie produces almost the whole watch and almost all the parts.

Watch-making reached the valley of Delémont in a period which corresponds to a new phase of development: the mechanization. This one concentrates the hand of work in factory. The establishments of watch-making increase whereas the proportion of the homeworkers decreases. These new factories of watch-making will be situated according to the establishment of the Jura railroad between 1872 and 1877.

If Jura also produces watches, it produces especially spare parts, components. Every region specializes in the production of such or such element. So, we produce essentially watch boxes, in the Franches Montagnes; of the fine stone, in Haute-Ajoie and in the District of Delémont, the workers are often fitters of boxes.

Jura will not be spared by the conjecturelles crisis which affect the watch-making in a cyclic way throughout the XXth century. In the 60s, the restructuring of the device of production affects particularly Jura which counts many of the small entities family. These tend to disappear for the benefit of small and medium-sized enterprises.

In the 70s, the Jura watch-making is hardly affected by the oil and quartz crisis. Nevertheless, renowned prosperous companies are going to disappear as Jura Watch, to Delémont and Phoenix, to Porrentruy.