A Swiss Start - Camden Watch Co. Head To Switzerland

January 25, 2019

A Swiss Start - Camden Watch Co. Head To Switzerland

Switzerland - commonly known for chocolate, cheese, the alps and for leading the world’s watch industry. After recently returning from another trip out there, we talk to Anneke and Jerome (the Camden Watch Co. founders) to explore why the country is so close to their heart and uncover some interesting facts behind the swiss beginnings of the brand.

What is the relationship between Camden Watch Co and Switzerland?

Anneke: Oh wow, where to start? First off, Jerome is Swiss, born and raised in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Swiss watch valley. As for me, I’m British, but my family moved to Switzerland when I was 14 after my dad left the RAF, and it was there that I attended art school and then trained as a watch designer. Jerome and I met while I was living out there and in 2010 we moved to London together.

Why is Switzerland so famous for their watch industry?

Jerome: Switzerland has been making watches on a large scale for over 200 years, beginning with the farmers that would make watch components during the winter months to help supplement their income, so by now, watches are just in our blood. You can barely move in Switzerland without bumping into something watch related. I suppose you could say that watches are to Switzerland what tea is to Britain.

Looking back, what were the three most pivotal moments that happened whilst in Switzerland that allowed you to eventually build The Camden Watch Company?

A: Firstly for me, going to art school in La Chaux-de-Fonds. I always knew that I wanted to do something creative, but it was only when I tagged along with my older brother to the school’s open day that came across the idea of studying jewellery. The second I stepped into the workshop I fell in love.

Next was when I switched to the watch design team during my first job. I’d always loved watches, and had always been fascinated by clockwork so I was thrilled to be able to learn more about the world of watches.

Lastly, when Jerome and I met. Neither of us could be running Camden Watch Co. without the other, our skills complement each other so well.

How important is returning to Switzerland on a regular basis?

J: It’s really key to keeping our fingers on the pulse in terms of the watch world. London is amazing, and is full of inspiration at every corner, but Switzerland is so important for the real high-end stuff. It’s always great to catch up with old friends and hear about new techniques that are being developed. And it’s always good to top up our fondue supplies!

Where did you visit on your most recent trip?

A: We mostly stayed in Jerome’s home town of La Chaux-de-Fonds. It’s always fun to take a walk around the old haunts; my art school, my first office, Jerome’s old school, that kind of thing. Plus we stopped in for a visit at the Watchmaking museum. It’s really beautiful and one of our very close friends has recently been named Vice-Curator.

J: And I managed to squeeze in a morning of snowboarding at the local piste so I was happy about that!

Where would you recommend people going if they visited Switzerland?

A: Switzerland is stunning, there are so many places to see (although it’s worth noting that it is expensive, especially while the pound is so weak). Locally to us, the town of Neuchatel, where my dad lives and around 20 minutes from La Chaux-de-Fonds, is really picturesque, and next to a huge lake with a view over the alps. Go on the last weekend of September for the Fete des Vendanges (the grape harvest festival) if you want to see a whole town party Swiss-style.

And then there are places like Gruyere, Grindelwald, Zermatt, Montreux, Lucerne, the list goes on! In terms of countryside and natural wonders, there is plenty to choose from.

Switzerland continues to be the first country that comes to mind when talking about watchmaking. However, the Brits also brought some of the greatest design innovations to the timekeeping world.

Read our short piece on the history of British Watchmaking here




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