Not sure where to go on holiday? Why not take your car for a spin around the landmarks of Swiss watchmaking – with Christopher Ward as your expert guide

The warmer days are only a few months away, so could there be anything more satisfying for the watch lover than planning a driving tour of Switzerland’s horological landmarks? And who better to guide you than Christopher Ward’s Head of Product, Jörg Bader Junior, who possesses an intimate knowledge of Switzerland’s most famous industry. So, strap in, set your GPS to Geneva and prepare to spend some time exploring the highways and byways of the world’s watchmaking home.

Day 1

Day 1: Porrentruy and Delémont

We start our journey in Porrentruy, a small town with a sprinkling of watchmaking heritage, before driving to Delémont, the capital of the Jura region. Delémont supplies components and materials to the watch industry, though its importance is relatively modest compared to more renowned cities like Geneva. Delémont’s role centres on its contributions to the supply chain and specialised expertise within the broader Swiss watchmaking ecosystem. On the plus side, it’s very pretty, so it’s worth spending an hour or two there before we aim for Biel – Switzerland’s watchmaking capital.
Notable brands: None
Notable suppliers: Biwi SA

Day 2

Day 2: Grenchen and Biel

Biel (‘Bienne’ in French) and Grenchen are pivotal centres in Swiss watchmaking. Biel has a horological history dating back centuries – and is the home of Christopher Ward’s atelier. The town is a hub for most watch brands with German-speaking staff – Biel sits on the ‘border’ between ‘French’ and ‘German’ Switzerland. A quick tour will take you past the Omega HQ and its museum, while Swatch Group has its base near the lake (warning: do not take a dip in winter!). And if you’re really keen, you can head out of town to see the Rolex movement factory – obviously, this depends on how enthusiastic your partner is. Up the road in Grenchen, you’ll find ETA, a significant movement manufacturer supplying numerous brands, showcasing the region’s crucial role in the production of movements.
Notable brands: Christopher Ward, Rolex, Swatch Group (which owns Omega, Longines, Tissot and Hamilton)
Notable suppliers: ETA SA

Day 3

Day 3: La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle

La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle are vital stops for those who want to discover more about the history of the Swiss watch industry, as you’ll find the Musée d’Horlogerie here. It’s not just about heritage, though – today, the towns are hubs for watchmaking education and training. And if movements are your thing, La Chaux-de-Fonds is the home of Sellita, whose calibres grace many Christopher Ward watches. If you visit, say hi from us!
Notable brands: Cartier, Zenith, Ulysse Nardin, and Tag Heuer
Notable suppliers: Sellita

Day 4

Day 4: Vallée de Joux

The Vallée de Joux (Jura Valley), which covers France and Switzerland, is a crucial region in haute horlogerie due to the locals’ expertise in crafting high-quality movements and complications. Since the 17th century, the Vallée has been known for producing intricate watch mechanisms, so it’s no coincidence that some of the greatest names in watchmaking have their manufactures here. But take a coat – at a height of 1,000m, the Vallée is one of the coldest areas in the border region.
Notable brands: Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Blancpain
Notable suppliers: AROLA Alfred Rochat & Fils SA

Day 5

Day 5: Geneva

If you’ve got even a passing interest in elite watchmaking, Geneva has to be on your road map – especially if you like your watches on the luxury side. The industry began here in the 16th century, when Protestant watchmakers came to the city, fleeing religious persecution elsewhere. Today, it hosts the HQs of brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe and the Richemont Group. Geneva craftsmen work through the entire watchmaking process from design to finishing, with the city’s finest watches bearing the ‘Poinçon de Genève’ mark. Geneva also hosts the most significant watch events like GPHG (where the the Bel Canto recently won the Petite Aiguille catagory), as well as Watches & Wonders.
Notable brands: Patek Philippe, Rolex, MB&F, and Vacheron Constantin
Notable suppliers: Salanitro SA

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