La Vallée de Joux is an historic watchmaking area nestled in the southwest valley of the Jura Mountains in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. Comprising three main villages: Le Chenit, Le Lieu and L’Abbaye, along with several small hamlets, the people of ‘La Vallée de Joux’ are known as Combiers. Amongst themselves, when they discuss their region, they simply use the short version: ‘La Vallée’. The art of watchmaking in this region reaches back more than three centuries as an outgrowth and continuation of the iron working industries represented by makers of nails and cutlery, locksmiths, and even gunsmiths. The activities of these iron craftsmen formed an essential compensation for the lean results derived from ungrateful and poor agricultural conditions. Later, the skills learned by the Combiers during the precise and repeated movements required for the faceting of gemstones and fine metalworking would slowly support the emergence of talented watchmakers.
In a parallel to those first watchmakers who established themselves in the Vallée de Joux, David Candaux founded a home and atelier in an ancient farmhouse, a former property of the Capt family of watchmakers. The building was christened with the name La Grand Pièce in 1850. The Capt family was one of the great watchmaking dynasties of the Vallée, responsible for such projects as the creation of La Merveilleuse, the most complicated pocketwatch of its day in 1875.
Himself a descendant of a long line of watchmakers from La Vallée de Joux, David Candaux felt an obligation to preserve and perpetuate this history. For this reason, when restoring the farmhouse, special efforts were made to retain as much as possible of its original layout and interior, including such details as the watchmaker’s workbenches and cabinetry.
It was in 1740 that Samuel Oliver Meylan left La Vallée de Joux to apprentice under the guidance of a master watchmaker, Mathieu Blaudet, based in Rolle – at that time a center of watchmaking activity on the outskirts of Geneva. In 1743 he would return home to La Vallée de Joux, establishing himself as its first watchmaker. Despite initial difficulties and hardships, others would follow in his footsteps, and this burgeoning young industry would slowly become the valley’s most important, essential manufacturing activity. 1740 is therefore the landmark year in which the seed for establishing watchmaking was planted in the region’s consciousness through the dedication and patience of a solitary young visionary.
David Candaux was born and raised in the Vallée de Joux, an area recognized for centuries as suppliers of sublime excellence in the world of traditional, high-end Swiss watchmaking. As the son and the grandson of master watchmakers, he grew up fully immersed in an atmosphere of craftsmanship devoted to timekeeping. He was as much shaped by the nearby lake and forests as by the workbenches at which he started to stand at the tender age of 14 years. More than 20 years later, and after a brilliant career with several widely renowned watchmakers whom allowed him to consolidate his expertise and knowhow, he has chosen to promote his personal vision of 21st century haute horlogerie with the release of a series of exceptional timepieces.
One could say that watchmaking is a part of David Candaux's DNA. A third-generation watchmaker hailing from La Vallée de Joux, David Candaux's passion for watchmaking started at a young age, observing and admiring his father working away on the watchmaker's bench everyday after school. Daniel was a watchmaker in Patek Philippe's Vallée de Joux complication workshop, while today works with David to make his vision of artisanal watchmaking a reality.