At the Festival Suisse de l’Horlogerie: Laurent Jolliet, Switzerland’s last chain-maker!

Temps de lecture : 2 minutes

Live from EPHJ’s Exhibition in 2019. Is he a dying species? There is no longer any certified training for his profession, neither in Switzerland nor in France. Portrait of an endearing figure who, in his own way, embodies the missing element of an industry that gargles with handmade products.

By Emmanuel Alder /  JSH Magazine & TàG Press +41 journalist
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In the world of craftsmanship and luxury, there is a constellation of crafts, some obvious and others more mysterious. All of them are involved in the creation of so many extraordinary pieces in the watchmaking or jewelry fields.

Laurent Jolliet, the last jeweler-chainmaker in Switzerland, a passion unchained, a singular know-how ©Emmanuel Alder

Essential to high-end watchmaking

Now that the sector’s major institutions, foundations and other “.Org” are capitalizing on the marketing pitch for art crafts, there are noble manual crafts whose survival is under threat. Yet crucial to the sector, the endangered profession of chain maker embodies a specific know-how for the realization of chains, necklaces or bracelets. This specialty was once included in the training of the jeweler, which is no longer available today.

Laurent Jolliet, located in Le Lignon, Geneva, is one of the few, if not the last, craftsmen still capable of traditionally manufacturing all conceivable variations of chains and bracelets. A unique know-how that allows him to offer both classic chains or bracelets and personalized patterns that only the imagination might limit. These competencies are also used by the major watchmaking and jewelry companies for repairs or by auction houses.

Handmade, silver chains. The craft could vanish / photo@Emmanuel Alder


It is true that some leading names have employees capable of creating chains, but all that is complicated always ends up at his workplace, because of the complexity of the calculations required to produce chains with an irregular or complex appearance. Another challenge is the large amount of equipment required to make chains, which is a deterrent for those who want to add this skill to their arsenal.

I was listening to him talking, I was observing him… I had the feeling that I was in touch with a kind of Alchemist for a magical interlude. And I wondered: who, from the training authorities, the main brands, or the Foundations, will have the right idea to make sustainable this astonishing know-how, which has only one custodian left?

Watch bracelets. Laurent Jolliet, the missing link in the jewelers' know-how ©Photo Emmanuel Alder
Heart-shaped links of a copper chain... The art of handmade according to Laurent Jolliet. ©Photo Emmanuel Alder

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