Château des Monts

Le Locle, Switzerland | C.1790

Photo Credit: Dominik Gehl

It’s easy to spend “time” in the Château des Monts. After all, the stunning 18th-century Château is also home to the Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle — the Watch Museum of Le Locle. Yet, along with the tick tock of Swiss-made clocks and watches, the Château is home to another captivating treasure: an ornate music box shrouded in legend.

In the late 18th century, the property was gifted to Marie-Henriette, the wife of officer and watchmaker Samuel DuBois. DuBois had a residence built on his wife’s estate, which quickly earned the name the Château des Monts by the locals. The estate was passed on to his grandson, another prolific watchmaker, and the residence stayed in the family until the early 20th century.

In 1912, Georges Ducommun, the founder of Doxa Watches, purchased the estate and transformed many of its buildings and its grounds. The Château has since remained in the state which Ducommun updated it, offering a glimpse into the lifestyle of Switzerland’s bourgeois families. The Château would ultimately be sold to the city and transformed into the Museum.

Among the vast collection of watches in the Museum, one item is lauded as its greatest treasure. A “singing bird box” designed by master watchmakers the Rochat brothers at the beginning of the 19th century. This box included a mirror and a songbird that moves to mechanized clockwork, eliciting musical notes. Legend has it that Napoleon was so enamored by the Rochat’s musical creation, that he gifted the mirrored box to an Ottoman princess.

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