The sculptor of time
At the heart of the Swiss Jura region, in the village of L’Abbaye in the Joux valley, Claude Meylan perpetuates the centuries-old know-how of the Meylan family. Samuel-Olivier Meylan is recognised as one of the first people to manufacture watches in the Joux Valley, at a time when watch movement manufacturing was concentrated along the shores of Lake Geneva in the region of Lausanne, Morges and Rolle. Having acquired his skills in the latter town, he returned to his native village and set up his own workshop, employing two apprentices. This was in spite of him not having received a warrant as a watchmaker, since the Bernese government had not yet awarded any charters for watchmaking in the Joux Valley and watchmakers were therefore required to learn their trade elsewhere (five years of apprenticeship followed by three years as a journeyman) before submitting a watch they had made entirely by themselves.
Samuel-Olivier Meylan only became a watchmaker officially in 1748, after the “masterpiece” he had produced in Neuchâtel was accepted by the watchmaking corporation in Moudon. And it was not until a year after his death that the government in Bern issued a watchmaking charter for his native village of Le Chenit. The system of warrants was eventually abolished, paving the way for the division of labour (watchmakers were no longer obliged to produce a finished timepiece) that transformed life in the Joux valley so radically.
It was thanks to this development that the great grandfather and, later, the father of Claude Meylan were able to build up considerable know-how in the field of skeletonisation. His grandfather was a teacher at the watchmaking school in Le Sentier and the master skeletonisers gradually started to establish themselves in the valley at the turn of the twentieth century.
The Claude Meylan brand was established in 1988. To this day, the company continues to perpetuate the unique art of skeletonising watch movements.