Swiss research resources
This research guide gathers together links to a series of Swiss online platforms and databases containing research resources relating to the history of horology. It will be added to as new resources are identified. Please note that the AHS has no connection with any of the content linked from here, and links themselves may change and become out of date. Please let us know if you spot a broken link.
This resource, from la Société Neuchâteloise de Presse, offers access to all issues of Neuchâtel's main newspapers, Feuille d'Avis de Neuchâtel/FAN/L'Express (1738 to 2018), L'Impartial (1881 to 2018) and ArcInfo (from 2018). Find it here.
Another important newspaper, La Suisse Libérale, ran from 1881 to 1982 and can be found on the Swiss national library platform here.
These databases are useful places to start research, but it is worth noting that the Neuchâtel region had other important newspapers (including the National Suisse) in which horological topics were debated, but which are not yet available online.
Canton de Vaud newspapers
This resource, from the Bibliothèque Cantonale et Universitaire – Lausanne, offers access to almost all Vaudois newspapers published since the eighteenth century, including the Mercure Suisse / Journal Helvétique. Several newspapers are connected to the Vallée de Joux and Ste Croix areas. Find the archive here.
Pays de Vaud territories belonged to Bern until the French Revolution, so the Gazette de Berne, printed at that time, can be a useful additional research tool. Find it on the Swiss national library platform here.
This resource, from the archives of Le Temps, contains three nineteenth-century newspapers: Gazette de Lausanne, Journal de Genève and Le Nouveau Quotidien. Find it here.
La Fédération Horlogère Suisse
This newspaper, subtitled 'Organe de la Société intercantonale des industries du Jura, des Chambres de commerce, des Bureaux de contrôle et des Syndicats industriels', was founded in 1886 and is a superb research resource for those studying Swiss horology. Find issues from 1886 to 1940 here.
Musée Neuchâtelois, later Revue Historique Neuchâteloise, is the journal of the Société d’Histoire et Archéologie du Canton de Neuchâtel (SHAN), founded in 1864. Many of the society's members – such as Alfred Chapuis – were interested in horology, so the journal contains much relevant historical material, mainly concerning the Neuchâtel region. Find issues from 1864 to 2009 here.
The SHAN still exists (see here) and runs a database of images and documents relating to the Neuchâtel region here (to find 'watchmaking', for instance, search for 'horlogerie').
ETH Zurich library
ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) offers a large and growing collection of digitized journals, including those published by Swiss learned societies. Find it here.
Directories and registers
Indicateur de la Chaux-de-Fonds et Du Locle (later Indicateur Davoine) was the directory for the watch and clock making industry in La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle. It listed names and addresses of people involved with horological trade and production, and is a useful place to start any research on a watchmaker or dealer.
Geneva state registers
The Geneva state archives offers access to digitized civil and trade registers and other material that can be of great interest to horological researchers. For instance, the trade registers contain nineteenth-century lists of watchmaking workshops. Find the archives here.
ETH Zurich library
ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) offers a vast collection of digitized books relating to the history of science and technology from the fifteenth century onwards, drawn from its own and other Swiss libraries. It does not have a dedicated horology section but there is much of horological interest that can be found by careful searching. Find it here.
Musées d'art et d'histoire, Geneva
Find the museum collection here.
Musée d'art et d'histoire, Ville de Neuchâtel
Find the museum collection here.
Historisches Museum Basel
Find the museum collection here (select 'clocks and scientific instruments').
Catalogue of the Association Swiss Poster Collections
This database contains numerous posters relating to Swiss watchmaking companies. Search it here.
This website was set up to encourage the sharing of digitized collections relating to the history of Swiss French regions. Several cultural institutions have posted material of interest to horological researchers, including the Geneva Library, which has uploaded most of its iconographical collection. Careful searching may yield interesting and surprising results. Find it here.
Société des Arts de Genève archives
The Geneva Society of Arts was involved with watchmaking from its foundation in the 1770s. Among other activities, it organized the first Swiss chronometry tests at the end of the 18th century, and continued to test chronometers through the following century. Find its digitized archive material here.
La Chaux-de-Fonds notarial deeds
This database, created by the University of Neuchâtel and the International Museum of Horology in 1993, contains information about La Chaux-de-Fonds clock and watchmakers, such as contracts and apprenticeships, drawn from notarial needs signed in the region between 1750 and 1810. The database, which can be found here, is searchable. From it, it is possible to request access to the original notarial deed in the Neuchâtel state archives here.
With thanks to Rossella Baldi for her expert assistance in assembling these links.