L'ange Musée CIMA

Craftsmanship of mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics recognised by UNESCO

Apr 14, 2021

Since 16 December 2020, the craftsmanship of mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics has been recognised as an intangible cultural heritage. This move marks the acknowledgement of a tradition that is deeply rooted in the Vaud Jura region and highly valued by its inhabitants.

This inscription marks the recognition of a strong watchmaking tradition that extends beyond borders. Cantonal borders first of all, with Vaud, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Bern and Jura, but national ones as well, with the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and the city of Besançon also involved on the French side.

This recognition takes on a particular importance in the canton of Vaud, however, as the region of Sainte-Croix/L’Auberson, in the Vaud Jura region is the only location to combine all of these crafts. Numerous artisans strive to perpetuate the craftsmanship involved in music boxes, automata, singing birds, antique clocks, railway station music boxes, unique pieces or small watch series. These rare and often little-known professions, which may even have risked disappearing altogether, are now increasing in visibility. As a result, they have been given the chance of being perpetuated in a way that may inspire others to take up similar work.

Visitors will have the opportunity to discover the creations and secrets of these artisans at the cutting edge of art mechanics at the International Centre of Art Mechanics (CIMA) in Sainte-Croix, which exhibits a historical collection of music boxes and automata, as well as a mechanical workshop as it would have looked at the beginning of the 20th century, including a display of several authentic machines. Complementing this, the Musée Baud in L’Auberson presents a collection of antique mechanical music pieces, including music boxes, automata and orchestrions. The company REUGE SA in Sainte-Croix maintains the tradition of the manufacture of precision mechanical movements with modern and prestigious music boxes that are highly popular with heads of state and royal families all over the world. Finally, in the Vallée de Joux, the Espace Horloger and the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet invites visitors to immerse themselves in the history of watchmaking.

This craftsmanship of mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics joins five other sites and events in the canton of Vaud listed by UNESCO, highlighting the cultural wealth of the region. The terraced vineyards of Lavaux, Corbusier's Le Lac villa, and the prehistoric pile dwellings on the shores of Lake Geneva and Lake Neuchâtel also form part of the world’s heritage. In parallel to this, the collection of audio and video recordings of the Montreux Jazz Festival is also included in the Memory of the World Register, while the Winegrowers’ Festival is listed as an intangible cultural heritage.

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