In the watchmaking valley Vallée de Joux – untamed nature and authentic craft



With panoramic views of lakes and meadow landscapes, endless forests of spruce and fir, and the highest peaks in the Jura, the Vallée de Joux is the perfect place to explore and unwind. The valley also has a unique culture: no other place in the world has such a wealth of watchmaking expertise concentrated in such a small area. This almost 300-year-old tradition is still practised today. Anyone who comes to see some of these watches, which are among the most complicated and valuable in the world, will soon lose all sense of time…

A valley with many aspects

Located on a Jura plateau with direct access to France, the Vallée de Joux offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience nature, with lakes, forests and one of the most extensive cross-country skiing areas in Central Europe. 

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Vallée de Joux
Canton of Vaud
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Deep in the forest “This is still my favourite place to exercise and relax.”


Ambassador for the region

Laurence Rochat grew up on a farm in the Vallée de Joux. At the tender age of two she tried cross-country skiing in the Fôret du Risoud for the first time, and at the age of five she took part in her first competitions. In 2002, she won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. She has remained faithful to the valley to this day. The woods around Lac de Joux are her favourite place to exercise and relax. She is happy to act as an ambassador for the region whenever she can. The same goes for the venerable company of “Audemars Piguet” in Le Brassus, where she has been working for 25 years. 

Nature, agriculture and the art of watchmaking – this combination makes our region quite unique.
Laurence Rochat, Olympic champion and ambassador for Audemars Piguet

Masterpieces of precision


Where it all began

Historical masterpieces are restored today and preserved for the future in the company’s oldest workshop. Francisco Pasandin is one of the restorers and has worked for Audemars Piguet for 40 years. He restored the “L’Universelle” from 1899, one of the most complicated pocket watches ever made. “That was quite an adventure,” he says. “We put over 1,000 hours of work into the restoration.” There were no longer any blueprints available for the unique specimen. So Francisco Pasandin and his team had to figure out the logic and mechanics behind the watch for themselves.

As an ambassador for Audemars Piguet, Laurence Rochat often guides guests through the newly opened “Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet”.

A spiral combination of tradition and contemporary style

The “Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet”, built by the Danish architecture firm “Bjarke Ingels Group”, opened in summer 2020. The characteristic spiral construction combines the almost 150-year history of watchmaking with a glimpse into the future. “The museum tells the story of respect for tradition, the handing down of values and the ability of people to surpass themselves,” says Laurence Rochat.

A bird’s-eye view of the new museum.

Timeless mystique Experiencing the many moods of the Jura


A paradise for lovers of perfection

In the Vallée de Joux, more than 30 manufacturers have been producing watches that are known worldwide for their highly complex mechanical works and timeless designs. Names like Jaeger-LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet are closely associated with the valley. They stand for tradition, craftsmanship, authenticity and Swissness. Over 130 of the most beautiful watches produced in the valley are on display in an exhibition space covering more than 400 square metres in the “Espace Horloger” in Le Sentier. Curious visitors are welcome to explore the museum on their own. During group visits, experts also explain how the watches work in every detail and reveal historical facts about the precious timepieces to visitors.

Bright spaces for cold winters

The “fermes horlogères” are reminders of the beginnings of the watchmaking tradition in the Vallée de Joux. After 1740, farmers began making mechanical parts for the watchmaking industry in Geneva during the long harsh winters. In order for the workshop to have light for longer in the afternoons and allow to them to work more precisely, they built extra windows into the attics of the farmhouses. To this day, the exteriors of 26 of these characteristic structures can still be seen in the valley.

Vallee du joux, Drohne
A “ferme horlogère” with the typical extra windows on the attic floor.

Keeping cultural heritage alive

David Candaux set up his watchmaking workshop in a “ferme horlogère”. The engineer, watchmaker and self-employed “maître horloger” makes watches of incredible complexity here. His creations consist of hundreds of individual parts, all of which he makes by hand, putting them together over weeks of work. He has found a group of willing buyers all over the world. Some even travel from China or the USA to witness David Candaux and his workshop in person. 

My goal: To achieve the greatest possible precision with the smallest possible number of parts.
David Candaux, self-employed “maître horloger”

The perfectionist David Candaux’s watches set new standards.

  • 296 That’s the number of individual components brought together in the DC6 Solstice by D. Candaux.
  • 1.5 months That’s how long it takes on average for D. Candaux to make a watch.
  • Approx. CHF 200,000 That’s the price of a masterpiece by D. Candaux.
  • 42 different tools are required when creating a complex timepiece.

Rooted in the region yet open to the world

For me this remains one of the most authentic and diverse landscapes there is.
Laurence Rochat, Olympic champion and ambassador for Audemars Piguet

Laurence Rochat has travelled a lot during her sporting career. She has seen a lot of the world and yet she kept coming back to the Vallée de Joux. The woods of the Forêt du Risoud and the waters of Lac de Joux are rejuvenating forces for her. She also has a special place in her heart for the inhabitants of the valley. “Despite their deep respect for tradition and craftsmanship, the people here are very cosmopolitan and inventive,” explains Laurence Rochat. “I really like that!”

Vallee du joux, Waldspaziergang

New horizons Recharge your batteries at Lac de Joux


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