Here timepieces set the tempo: in the town of La Chaux-de-Fonds and its little sister Le Locle

La-Chaux-de-Fonds is laid out like a chess board, specifically adapted to suit the needs of the watchmaking industry, with broad streets that provide plenty of light, the watchmakers' most important tool. 

The Election wristwatch company, ca. 1920
The Election wristwatch company, ca. 1920

Art Nouveau villas that belonged to the wealthy watchmaking families of the past stand next to workers’ housing. And wherever you look for them you'll find the large, bright windows of the watchmaking workshops and factories.  

Unlike in London or Geneva, in the late 19th century, a traditional craft, the farmers' sideline, became an industry that provided work for everyone.  That enabled the area to stand up to the competition from America. In the early 20th century more than half the watches sold worldwide came from La Chaux-de-Fonds, which already had 40,000 residents.