It was a devastating fire in 1794 that proved to be a blessing in disguise for La Chaux-de-Fonds, high in the Jura Mountains: its ramshackle wooden buildings were replaced by a gridded street plan of Art Nouveau futurism, fit for purpose as the “cradle” of Swiss watchmaking and, since 2009, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It is the city’s horological and architectural renown to which local boy Julien Fleury wished to pay tribute, when he launched his watch brand in 2011, straight out of art school. Born and raised at 16-18 rue du Manège, always inspired by the beauty of the nearby Old Riding School, the name came easily enough. He then set about establishing a limited roster of top-flight artisans to realise his crisp, contemporary watch designs, all of them drawn from his hometown’s immediate environs. As a result, duManège is the only watchmaker to put “La Chaux-de-Fonds” on the dial. Watchmaking is in its DNA.