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|Population||38694 (as of December 2013)|
|Area||55.66 km2 (21.49 sq mi)|
|Elevation||992 m (3,255 ft)|
|Mayor (list)||Théo Huguenin-Elie|
|Fontaines, Fournet-Blancheroche (FR-25), Grand'Combe-des-Bois (FR-25), La Ferrière (BE), La Sagne, Le Locle, Les Bois (JU), Les Fontenelles (FR-25), Les Hauts-Geneveys, Les Planchettes, Renan (BE)|
|Twin towns||Winterthur (Switzerland), Frameries (Belgium)|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Part of||La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle, Watchmaking Town Planning|
|Inscription||2009 (33rd Session)|
|Area||213.7 ha (528 acres)|
|Buffer zone||2,867.5 ha (7,086 acres)|
La Chaux-de-Fonds is the capital city of the district of La Chaux-de-Fonds in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. After Geneva and Lausanne, it is the third-largest city in the French-speaking part of the country. As of December 2016, 38,965 people lived there.
In the middle of the 14th century, the region was colonized from the southern Val-de-Ruz. La Chaux-de-Fonds is first mentioned in 1350 as la Chaz de Fonz. In 1378 it was mentioned as Chault de Font.
The region was under the authority of the lords of Valangin. In the 15th and 16th centuries, a second wave of colonization came from the so-called Clos de la Franchise (the valleys of Le Locle and La Sagne). Agriculture was the main activity but the village remained small. In 1531 there were only about 35 people living there. The first church was built in 1528. By 1530, La Chaux-de-Fonds, like the rest of the Valangin lands, converted to the new Reformed faith. The Lord of Valanginian, René de Challant, fixed the boundaries of the parish in 1550. The church and parish provided a political structure and a small community of Valanginian citizens, free farmers and peasants grew up around the church. By 1615 there were 355 people living in the village. In 1616, the low and middle jurisdiction over La Chaux-de-Fonds moved to Le Locle and La Sagne, while the high court remained in Valanginian. The agriculture, supplemented by mills on the banks of the Doubs, continued to dominate. However, at the end of the 16th century, the city became an important crossroad between Neuchâtel, Franche-Comté and the Bishopric of Basel.
The community grew during the Thirty Years' War, mainly because of its strategic position for trade. Economic activity accelerated in the 18th century with the development of the city's lace and watchmaking industries. Pierre Jacquet-Droz, best known for his automata, was a particularly prominent watchmaker of this era.
In 1794, the city was devastated by fire. Charles-Henri Junod created the new city's plan in 1835, and the city is now known for its "modern," grid-like plan, in comparison with most European cities' meandering streets. The central avenue is named the Avenue Léopold Robert.
The city's economy is based on industry and watch manufacturers.
Many watch companies started in La Chaux de Fonds:
- Bouchet-Lassale SA, in 1978;
- Marathon Watch Co. in 1904 - Originally founded as Weinsturm Watch.
- Cyma Watches, 1862 - Schwob Frères and Co. 1892 - Cyma Watch Company.
- Eberhard & Co., by George-Emile Eberhard, in 1887;
- Ebel, by Eugene Blum and Alice Levy, in 1911;
- Gallet & Co., by Julien Gallet, in 1826;
- Girard-Perregaux, by Constantin Girard and Marie Perregaux, in 1856;
- Heuer Leonidas, now TAG Heuer, by Edouard Heuer, in 1860;
- Invicta Watch Group, by Raphael Picard, in 1837;
- Movado, by Achilles Ditesheim, in 1881;
- Omega SA, in 1848;
- Rolex trademark, registered by Hans Wilsdorf, in 1908. His company, Wilsdorf and Davis, London, was later renamed Rolex Watch Company, Geneva and Biel, Bienne;
- Rotary, by Moise Dreyfuss, in 1895;
- Solvil et Titus, by Paul Ditisheim, in 1892;
- Venus by Paul Arthur Schwarz and Olga Etienne, in 1902;
- Vulcain by Maurice Ditisheim, in 1858.
- Watchmaking Heritage Day: Saturday 7 November 2009
- Official website of the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds
- La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle: Pictures Gallery
- La Chaux-de-Fonds in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
- International watchmaking museum website
- The Art Nouveau season of events in the city