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  1. #1
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    Default REVIEW: Bujard/Tissot (Editors): The Territory of Neuchatel &its Horological Heritage

    The Territory of Neuchatel and its Horological Heritage Many Authors.

    Editions de la Chatiere

    ISBN 987-2-940239-17-7

    http://www.editions-chatiere.ch (Click on Editions)

    This book is a collection of articles on the nature and impact of watch making on the history of the Neuchatel region. It wont help identify that unknown Swiss name on a fine or not so fine watch but it does provide a lot of insight into the environment that produced it. The book by its nature, a collection of articles, Is not well organized but more seriously, it lacks both a Table of Contents and an Index. It does have a notes section which provides some of these functions but is a poor substitute.

    The book is a long read and I skipped over some sections that I found to be of little interest but there is a lot of interesting and useful information.

    For the Swiss watch enthusiast who likes high grade watches or even Roskopf watches the book offers a lot of useful background.

    The value of the book is in its explanation of the Neuchatel watch system. The key players, the people whose names may have appeared on the cuvettes, were the etablisseurs. These people were similar to British retailers who functioned as contractors. They assembled the elements of a watch into its final form. The trade breakdown in Switzerland was different from England in that many functions were performed by specialty workshops that were more industrialized than the English industry. Roughly the trades were ebauche making, pallet assortment making, balance and spring making, dial making, case making, polishing and engine turning. Not mentioned but equally important were those who made hands. A very few etablisseurs became manufacturers. This differs from the American model in that the manufacturers did not bring all the parts into the factory and specialty makers continued as they do the present day.

    The etablisseaurs collected the parts and passed them around to these specialists. The system survived industrialization and was strongly preserved until very recently.


    This theme is repeated in several parts of the book. The section, The triumph of Horology has several articles that describe in detail how the industry and factories developed. The Concentration of Men and Machines by Thomas Perret on the development of factories. It includes statistics on the break out or workers by factory size with most working in factories with 21 to 50 employees.

    Nadja Maillard has two articles, The Manufacture of Cities and Architects and Watchmakers that discuss the relation between the factories and places where they were built. These indirectly point out which were the major and most influential factories.



    The overall organization of Swiss watch making is taken up by the section The Direction of Horology. The article Feast and Famine by Francesco Garufo. This article describes the development and nature of the cartel the Swiss formed in the period from the 1920s to the start of Word War II. It explains all the rules involved. Among other things it explains that manufacturers were forbidden to bring into their plants significant critical items such as manufacture of balances and assortments.

    IN reading the book it helps to know that they use the word assortment to describe the critical items of a lever escapement. These include the escape wheel, the pallets and pallet fork (lever). Since these are the features that most critically determine the quality of a movement, it has always interested me that these are rarely made by the manufacturer. The other side of this issue is that this system allows the small etablisseur to make watches rivaling the quality of the major manufacturers.

    The books has other problems besides loose organization, lack of a table of contents and index. It is profusely illustrated with wonderful illustrations but often they have little to do with the text and are not always well explained. It most annoying flaw is that on page 313 in the middle of the article Remodeled Industry by Helene Pasquier it switches from English to French. The next article is Lhorogerie electronique, entirely in French.

    With its flaws its still a book a Swiss watch enthusiast should own. Its not a reference since its too poorly organized but it is background material of much use in understanding how good Swiss watches were made. To benefit from owning the book you have to spend some time with it and go back often to refresh memory.

    I am sure the NAWCC Library has it but I could not find it in the electronic catalog. Simonin sells the book. I bought my copy from Craig Unruh of Crunruh books.

  2. #2

    Default Re: The Territory of Neuchatel and its Horological Heritage (By: Dr. Jon)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Jon View Post
    The Territory of Neuchatel and its Horological Heritage ....

    I am sure the NAWCC Library has it but I could not find it in the electronic catalog. Simonin sells the book. I bought my copy from Craig Unruh of Crunruh books.
    Jon

    First thank you for writing your excellent and informative Bookreview and sharing it on this forum.

    And yes, the NAWCC Library has 2 copies of the English edition, so one can become a lending copy. They were received in December and due to holiday vacation absencences may not have been cataloged yet, but that should happen soon.

    I fully agree with your critiscism and there is no excuse for not including an index.

    The book is easier to understand if you envision why it was produced:Editions de la Chatiere is a small local Neuchatel publisher that specialises in producing books of local and regional interest, particularly local folklore, local history and local culture.

    The book was NOT produced as a horological book, but as a history book on the history of the Neuchatel region. It's theme really is:

    What has been the influence of watchmaking on the history of Neuchatel.

    Of course you read it as horological book, hunting for 'horologian' morsels rather than immersing yourself in the flow of the local cultural heritage. But as you point out, it does contain a lot of horological knowledge and information, in spite of not beein a book on horology.



    The mistake you mention with language switching on page 313 is particular to your copy, my copy of the English edition is fine there.

    The book was simultaneously published in the original French edition and in English translation. The layout is exactly the same so all the illustrations are at the same point on the repective pages of their editions (and the color printing plates are exchangable between editions). This allows cost savings, but can be a logistical/design nightmare to produce.

    Here are the biographical full details of both editions:

    -------------------------------------------------

    # Title: Territory of Neuchatel and its Horological Heritage [The...]
    # Author: Jacques Bujard, Laurent Tissot, Nicole Bosshart[Iconography], Bernard Muller[Iconography], Marlyse Schmid[Iconography]
    # Publisher: Editions de la Chatiere
    Keywords: REGIONAL CH-LaChaux-de-Fonds CH-LeLocle CH-Neuchâtel-Region clock watch
    Other Keywords: Neuchatel Neuenburg
    ISBN: 978 2 940239 17 7
    Language: ENG
    Notes: English language edition of the History of the watchmaking craft and arts in the Neuchatel region of Switzerland. 24 stand alone chapters by 14 different authors, includes local histories, description of regional museums, etc. richly illustrated, extensive notes
    Edition: 2008, 1st Engl lang edition -- Copyright: 2008
    Kind: Book
    Type: Timekeeper (general)
    Geographic area: Switzerland
    Topic: History
    Organization: NA/other
    Pages: 392 -- Height in cm: 30
    Print Status: 1 (1 means in print - 2 means out of print)
    Entered By: fortunat
    BHM ID: 12473

    _____________________________________________

    # Title: pays de Neuchatel et son patrimoine Horloger
    # Author: Jacques Bujard, Laurent Tissot, Nicole Bosshart[Iconography], Bernard Muller[Iconography], Marlyse Schmid[Iconography]
    # Publisher: Editions de la Chatiere
    Keywords: CH-LaChaux-de-Fonds CH-LeLocle CH-Neuchâtel-Region clock watch
    Other Keywords: Neuchatel
    ISBN: 978 2 940239 16 0
    Language: FRE
    Notes: The History of the watchmaking craft and arts in the Neuchatel region of Switzerland. 24 stand alone chapters by 14 different authirs, includes local histories, description of regional museums, etc. richly illustrated, extensive notes
    Edition: 2008, 1st edition -- Copyright: 2008
    Kind: Book
    Type: Timekeeper (general)
    Geographic area: Switzerland
    Topic: History
    Organization: NA/other
    Pages: 390
    Print Status: 1 (1 means in print - 2 means out of print)
    Entered By: fortunat
    BHM ID: 12452

    --------------------------------------------------
    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, -Chair NAWCC Library Com./ Editor & Publisher of BHM
    Mem.NAWCC Mus.Coll.Com. / VP, USA Sect. Antiq.Horolog.Soc.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Bujard/Tissot (Editors): The Territory of Neuchatel &its Horological Heri (By: Fortunat Mueller-Maerki)

    Thanks to the moderator for your kind words and updates.

    As I think about the matter I see three objectives of a book review

    1) To identify those who may want to buy or read the book
    2) to tell them whether the book is worth buying or reading
    3) To provide hopefully useful feedback for the producer of the book.

    I agree with the moderator that this is not strictly a horology book. I thought I had made that clear in my review but perhaps not. My day job is systems engineering and I assume that the the background in which an item is produced is reflected in some of its physical characteristics. While the book is not a guide to watches in the sense in which I make my living it is a horological book. To me, it provides a useful background that compliments Pritchard's Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775-1975.

    The territory of Neuchatel and its Horological Heritage identifies some major players, but, more importantly, tells what they were doing. Pritchard tells us who many of the rest of the players (the etablisseurs) were and helps us with the vocabularly.

    The list of authors bears a strong resemblance to names in Pritchard. It is very likely that many writers are from horological families.

    The audience for this book is people who are sufficiently interested in Swiss especially Val De Joux , Neuchatel watches form the 17th century to teh The Discovery of France a book about how long it took for all of France to become speakers of French. This book is definitely not horological. One of the things its points out is that French peasants for the most part came as close as humans can to hibernating. This is in very sharp contrast to the Swiss who lived in the same area and spoke the same language who were so remarkably industrious. I am sure as I wrote there are advanced degree theses being written or the reasons for these differences.

    If you take a broader view than buying and selling for profit, The Territory of Neuchatel is worth some attention.


    In addition to the lack of a Table of Contents and an Index the book has several other flaws that make it less accessible. I think I could not have made as much sense of it as I did if I had not read A Region in Time by Marti. This covers much similar material but for a smaller geographic region and it a much better production. It is also subsidized by Longines so its a better value too. The Territory of Neuchatel would benefit from introductory material identifying key terms and providing a general overview.

    In my previous post I noted that this book did not discuss all the watch trades and noted hand making. A more serious omission is the complete lack of any history of the Neuchatel Gold smith's guild and its hallmarking. Neuchatel hallmarking is not all that complex but is not well documented by other books. Tardy's book on gold hallmarks has somewhat contradictory or inconsistent information on this. A scholarly examination of the Neuchatel gold smithing and casemaking trade would have been very welcome. Marti in A Region in Time writes that the Guilds had much less influence in the Neuchatel area than in Geneva but not much more detail.

    My own experience with gold Neuchatel watches is that if they carry the Neuchatel Hallmarks they are probably as described but not all watches from this area are so marked. I'd love to know what the rules were, and whether, and how they were enforced. According to the BHI journal, and Court records it cites, that a lot of Swiss product was deceptively,(falsely) marked. I think that too is part of the Neuchatel Horological Heritage.

    I invite Editions de la Chatiere to produce books on the following

    1) Neuchatel and Geneva Gold smithing
    2) Swiss Ebauche Patents, who made what and owned which designs
    3) The history and development of the Swiss Lever and the Assorment business
    4) Swiss Dial making
    5) Neuchatel and Geneva Chronometer trials

  4. #4

    Default Re: REVIEW: Bujard/Tissot (Editors): The Territory of Neuchatel &its Horological Heri (By: Dr. Jon)

    I just had another thought, which may help readers understand the logic - and the limitations- behind the new NEUCHATEL book.

    Most watch collectors see the Swiss Jura Mountains as one homogenous territory. Which culturally and historically it is not.

    Particularly Neuchatel did not even become part of the Swiss confederation until 1815. The various vallyies were until recently -especially in the winter -quite seperated from each other even if geographically they were very close.

    The Vallee de Joux had historically very limited contacts with the Neuchatel region (but they are only about 50 miles apart), and Neuchatel was a seperate Republic with little political ties to the rest of Switzerland.

    The Valley of St.Imier ( Some 30 miles from Neuchatel) was part of the Republic of Bern .

    Tyhe City of Geneva, was an independent city state, closely allied with the Swiss confederation, but not a full member till 1848.

    This 'parocialism' survives on some level today. The town of La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle are in the same valley and about 8 miles apart but fiercly independent, they each have a world class horological museum and the two hardly talk to each other, until well into the 20th century each town had its own watchmakers school with seperate facu;ties and different curriculums.

    The recent Neuchatel book, by its very definition and its titel must be seen as a building block to document the 'seperatness' of the horological tradition of Neuchatel (ie. Fleureier, LeLocle and LA Chaux de Fonds) from the rest of the Swiss watchmaking industry.


    It is not surprising that American readers throw all those regions into the same pot and assume practices were identical.

    Hope this is helpfull.


    Fortunat
    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, -Chair NAWCC Library Com./ Editor & Publisher of BHM
    Mem.NAWCC Mus.Coll.Com. / VP, USA Sect. Antiq.Horolog.Soc.

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