The fruit of a collaborative effort between the Geneva tourist office and a private entrepreneur with a passion for watches, the Route de l’Horlogerie de Genève (Geneva Watch Tour) offers a unique experience through a meeting of two worlds synonymous with escapism: watch shopping and tourism.
The heart of the world’s luxury watchmaking, Geneva is home to the highest concentration on the planet of mono and multi brand boutiques per km2, as well as many cultural institutions dedicated to showcasing the art of measuring time. A pedestrian itinerary now provides an opportunity to admire them while visiting the town’s most emblematic quarters and by walking in the footsteps of Swiss watchmaking history. The Geneva Watch Tour is available in three languages (English, Chinese and French) and two versions – notably on-line and in pocket card format: cultural and historic, and shopping. The Geneva Watch Tour map is also available from the Geneva Tourist Office as part of its collection entitled Geneva Amazing Experiences, in hotels and some boutiques.
Geneva’s watchmaking DNA
Do you know the watchmaking origins of Geneva’s famous Jet d’Eau? Do you know where to find the longest seconds hand in the world and the highest clock? More than any other city in the world, Geneva is characterised by its watchmaking DNA, symbolised in 1601 by the first watchmakers corporation in the world entitled "Maîtrise des horlogers de Genève". This watchmaking spirit that is omnipresent in the streets of the best known town in Switzerland is manifest in an unparalleled collection of 50 monobrand boutiques and 50 multibrand retailers spread across the centre of town. In a worldwide exclusive, the Geneva Watch Tour allows visitors to get to know the city from a new angle that is both fun and diverse, and where the osmosis between tourism and shopping results in an experience that is as incomparable as it is memorable.
The experience of a symbolic tour
The Watch Tour provides an overall perspective of the Swiss watchmaking panorama, while paying a visit to Geneva’s most symbolic neighbourhoods – the area where the tourist office is located near the lakefront for a start, as well as the business quarter in the city centre, the old town with its art and decoration galleries, the bank and cultural institutions district and their magnificent historical buildings, as well as the modern art quarter which stretches from the Patek Philippe Museum to the Manufacture F. P. Journe.
Routes and profiles of boutiques can be found free of charge on www.genevawatchtour.com (in English, Chinese and French), and are also available as mobile versions. The referencing of boutiques and brands in Geneva makes it possible to pick out favourite watches in advance and pinpoint them on the map. And as a perfect complement, www.geneva-tourism.ch gives details of the cultural and historical aspects of the Watch Tour with a downloadable map.
The watchmaking origins of Geneva’s Jet d’Eau
Who would have believed it? Geneva’s iconic emblem, the Jet d’Eau has its roots in the watchmaking foundations of the city. Indeed, Geneva’s watchmaking vocation, in conjunction with the divided organisation of labour (l'établissage) from the 18th century, led to some 4000 watchmaking craftsmen setting up shop around the Rhône in order to harness its power, notably that linked to the Bâtiment de la Machine from 1872 onwards, as well as that issuing from the hydraulic plant at la Coulouvrenière from 1886 onwards. This pressurised water made it possible to mechanise a large number of operations in watch movement and case manufacturing, such as grinding. In their cabinets or workshops, at the end of the day, the watchmaking artisans called the cabinotiers turned off the indispensable taps at about the same time, resulting in excess pressure for which the machine operators at the Coulouvrenière had to compensate urgently by stopping the pumps. One of them had the bright idea of installing a security valve that would allow the over-pressured water to shoot out 30 metres high into the air. This became a ritual show for those living on the banks of the river, which resulted in it being moved and becoming a tourist attraction that was institutionalised by Geneva’s Administrative Council in 1891. Today, it has its rightful place in the heart of the Geneva Watch Tour, along with a dozen other historical monuments linked to watchmaking.