The first Arc Horloger Education Forum was held on Thursday, December 16, 2021, one year to the day after the registration by UNESCO of the know-how of watchmaking and art mechanics in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. JSH® Magazine was part of the event.
Watchmaking and art mechanics education were highlighted. This event brought together for the first time the players in education, the industry and the public authorities of the Franco-Swiss Jura Arc for an afternoon of discussion and exchange.
Mrs. Anne Vignot, President of Grand Besançon Métropole and Mayor of Besançon, introduced the event, warmly welcoming the hundred or so people registered for this first Forum. Due to the health situation, the participants were able to attend the sessions by videoconference, while the participants were on site. Mr. Pascal Vairac, Principal of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et des Microtechniques (ENSMM), then addressed the audience with a few words of welcome and a brief presentation of his institution.
As an introduction to the conference topic, the watchmaking historian Estelle Fallet briefly traced the history of horological formations in the Jura Arc from the 17th century to the current day. The audience was able to follow the evolution of the know-how transmission until the 2000s, through the first schools of the 19th century. Some concerns are recurrent. These include the balance to be found between theory and practice, between tradition and innovation, between the need to follow the tempo of industries and to safeguard know-how. There are also questions that regularly come up, such as how to develop emulation – often through prizes and awards – how to encourage trainers to abandon the secrecy culture and, of course, how to perpetuate know-how.
This was followed by two panels moderated by Joël A. Grandjean, editor-in-chief of the Journal Suisse d’Horlogerie (JSH). The first one focused on the professional education offered in the French-Swiss Jura Arc on both sides of the border. The discussions revealed that the training courses currently on offer are quite comprehensive and effective. Switzerland seems to be mainly concerned about the shortfall of newcomers in the microtechnology sector, while some French craftsmen are worried about the decrease in workshop training and note that a large number of their watchmakers settle in Switzerland once they have completed their training.
The second panel was devoted to the methods of transmitting know-how. Pascal Landwerlin, a teacher at the CIFOM in Le Locle, launched the discussion by using films produced by the training center where he is teaching. Such pedagogical supports greatly facilitate the transmission, especially because of the access and visibility they offer for components that are often only a few millimeters small. La discussion a été enrichie par les points de vue des invités de la table ronde. In all cases, the need appeared for close collaboration between training centers and factories, particularly in the form of internships. Such a practice is exemplary – but also apparently rare – in the Vallée de Joux.
Pierre Alain Schnegg, State Councillor of the Canton of Bern and President of arcjurassien.ch, was responsible for the closure of the event and for thanking the speakers and the organizers. He underlined the significance of such a Forum to initiate further dialogue and gave an engagement to the assembly in 2022, for the second edition of the event which will happen in Switzerland.