Henri Grandjean

Great Orlogeur, Great Builder
Fleurier, Le Locle, Geneva and the World

Duty of Memory

This association website highlights the Swiss watchmaker Henri GrandJean (1803-1879) whose life and work still have a major impact on Swiss watchmaking today. According to the experts, he is credited with the inclusion of Le Locle in the Unesco dossier submitted jointly with the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds. This native of Les Ponts-de-Martel, La Sagne, erected the Neuchâtel Observatory, which is still claimed by today’s most prestigious watchmaking brands. He is also the man behind the establishment of the Ecole d’Horlogerie du Locle. If Le Locle is still called today “City of Precision“, it is surely because Henri GrandJean had the Observatory of the Lower Canton linked to the School of Watchmaking of the city by cable, thereby establishing there the ultimate accuracy.

This historical and lively display is dedicated to one of the greatest names in Swiss watchmaking excellence. A name and families whose origins go right up to the Val de Travers. A name closely connected to Le Locle, often overshadowed by the fame of other great names. Henri GrandJean fully deserves the same honors and memorial duties. And even if he already has a street in his name in Le Locle, a political track in the registers of the Swiss Confederation, models in the main watchmaking museums and above all, an amazingly vivid quotation among the great world collectors, he deserves much better than the clumsiness of forgetfulness.

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Architecture and Unesco

The old post office in Le Locle (Ancienne Poste)
{Extract from the Ancienne Poste Foundation} – download pdf – see the site}

“In the mid-19th century, when the two main towns in the Neuchâtel mountains were experiencing a meteoric rise in their watchmaking industries, Le Locle decided to build a post office. Spearheaded by Henri Grandjean, one of the architects of the Neuchâtel Revolution of 1848, the building project aimed to create, on the new road leading to the village center, a building symbolizing the republican values and the ideal of Progress that the people of Le Locle embraced. The project was entrusted to architect Hans Rychner, who also designed the Musée d’art et d’histoire de Neuchâtel, the Temple-allemand in La Chaux-de-Fonds and the Quartier Neuf in Le Locle, a key element in the watchmaking urbanism of the “Mère commune”.

The Quartier-Neuf (The New Quarter)
{Extract from the La Chaux-de-Fonds – Le Locle World Heritage nomination submission, page 215} – download the pdf file.

Under the heading “the watchmaking employers’ real-estate operation”: In August 1855, watchmakers Henry Grandjean and Edouard Thévenaz informed the town council of their plan to build workers’ housing: “To avoid the disadvantages of rising rents, which are detrimental to the true interests of industry, we have twice attempted to form shareholder societies for the construction of low-cost houses for the working class“.