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Le Locle, Switzerland

Musée d'Horlogerie du Locle

An amazing clockwork museum in the Val de Travers holds examples of various prestigious legacies horological history. 

This gem of a museum is situated in an old stately home in the small Swiss watch-making town of Le Locle, and houses some of the finest automata from the 18th and 19th centuries. The magnificent collection includes watches with moving scenes, a jeweled clockwork caterpillar (one of six created by the famous automata-maker Maillardet), a couple of tiny humans who dance a perfect walz across the floor, and many singing-bird automatons.

There are of course many clocks, as well as a collection of marquetry clock cases. There is the Collection Alfred Huguenin focusing on the history of the Neuchâtel style pendule, and a replica of the famous Elephant Clock of al-Jazari. In the garden are several sundials and sculptural clocks, and the museum also houses an extensive and historical horological library, open to horological scholars by appointment only.

Be sure to see the video that is shown in a small auditorium, as it is a nicely-filmed documentation of how the automatons look when they are working; to preserve the mechanisms, the museum does not run them, and has made the video so you can see them in closer detail with a better sense of their movement.

Know Before You Go

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