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The art of time

Geneva, watchmaking city

Geneva, the origins of watchmaking

The watch industry has shaped Geneva over the centuries.

A worldwide symbol of luxury watchmaking, the streets of Geneva reflect this international reputation. The city tells the time in a thousand and one ways and flaunts its many watchmaking symbols and its most prestigious watchmaking brands. The famous Jet d’eau itself draws its source from the watchmaking foundations of the city! Museums, workshops, prestigious events and luxury boutiques will provide you with a dazzling experience. You will enter the world of precision, beauty and exception.

The origin

Geneva’s watchmaking industry was born in the mid-16th century, when many European Protestants found refuge in Geneva to flee religious persecution, welcomed by Jean Calvin.

The story goes that Calvin decided to ban the wearing of jewellery during this particularly austere period and that the city’s goldsmiths had to find an alternative and turned to watchmaking, delicately decorating watches and clocks with precious stones and materials. Thus was born in the city of Geneva, the luxury watchmaking industry and its unique pieces.

watchmaking jean calvin
watchmaking jean calvin
watchmaking geneva old town
watchmaking geneva old town
watchmaking geneva old clock
watchmaking geneva old clock
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Geneva, cradle of fine watchmaking

Set off to discover a world of refinement, luxury and absolute precision! The watch industry has shaped Geneva over the course of the centuries. Witness the search for perfection through successive inventions that have made Geneva the cradle of prestige watchmaking. 
private guided tour-geneva-cradle of fine watchmaking

The “Poinçon de Genève”

Introduced by the Republic and Canton of Geneva in 1886 as the ultimate standard of excellence and the emblem of the know-how of Geneva’s fine watchmaking, the Poinçon de Genève (Geneva Seal) guarantees the origin, quality and reliability of the craftsmanship.

Geneva’s watchmaking expertise has spread throughout the world for several centuries. The Poinçon de Genève is a guarantee of authenticity, of a product made by the best craftsmen of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, whose success is recognised throughout the world. Only a handful of select, Geneva-based watchmakers and “manufactures” have been awarded this certification.

A watch bearing the Poinçon de Genève is not only a time-measuring instrument but a work of art. To obtain this distinction, each component must be manufactured with the utmost care, and finely decorated.

The beauty of a watch must serve to highlight its precise operation. This is why the Poinçon de Genève subjects each watch to a number of tests to ensure its quality and reliability. A watch certified by the Poinçon de Genève offers the assurance of a quality timepiece, manufactured according to the latest technologies in terms of reliability and precision.

watchmaking poincon de geneve
watchmaking poincon de geneve
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watchmaking poincon de geneve 2
watchmaking poincon de geneve 2

Geneva is the capital of luxury watchmaking.

The “cabinotiers” of the Saint-Gervais district

Have you ever heard of a “cabinotier”? A cabinotier was, in Geneva, a worker employed by a “cabinet”, i.e. a small watchmaking workshop at the time. A cabinotier was not necessarily a watchmaker, he could be a jeweller, an engraver or a gem-cutter (lapidary).

In the 18th century, the cabinotiers forged a solid reputation based on the quality of their work, meticulousness and precision. They contributed greatly to Geneva’s reputation throughout the world.

They were based in the Saint-Gervais district on the left bank of Geneva. As they needed as much light as possible to carry out their meticulous tasks, they moved to the top floors of the buildings, which had many small windows that almost touched each other. Walking through this district, these windows can still be seen today.

watchmaking cabinotiers
watchmaking cabinotiers
watchmaking clock flower
watchmaking clock flower
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Patek Philippe Museum

Experience a journey through five centuries of watchmaking. The Patek Philippe Museum is located in the heart of the Plainpalais district. Founded in 2001, it showcases the most prestigious creations of the brand’s master watchmakers.
patek philippe museum
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Watchmaking course

Discover the secrets of Swiss mechanical watchmaking in a fun and original way.
introduction to watchmaking in the heart of geneva
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Geneva Watch Tour

The Geneva Watch Tour takes you to the city’s many watchmaking symbols, to admire the most prestigious brands and boutiques that are the envy of the world.

After taking a few steps along the Geneva Watch Tour, you arrive at the point where the time is given in a thousand and one ways. You discover the extraordinary Patek Philippe Museum and visit the heart of the highest concentration of watchmaking brands. 

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