The Château de Môtiers, originally named Vauxtravers, overlooks the village of Môtiers and indeed the entire Val-de-Travers, at the heart of Switzerland. Built in the early 14th century by Rodolphe IV, Count of Neuchâtel, it was successively occupied down through the centuries by the lords of the valley. In 1835, the State sold it to Henri-François Dubois-Bovet, and the descendants of the Bovet family in turn donated it to the Canton of Neuchâtel in 1957.
The 5,800 square-metre Château de Môtiers is a listed historical monument affording exceptional views over the landscapes of the Val-de-Travers, including BOVET’s birthplace in the village of Fleurier. In 2006, the Neuchâtel state authorities were looking to sell this castle of which the upkeep was proving too expensive. Mr. Pascal Raffy was the only potential buyer in a position to ensure the long-term preservation of this unique heritage site so fondly cherished by the people of the Canton. He was thus able to acquire the Château de Môtiers, and in doing so to fulfil his dream of offering BOVET the opportunity of returning to its birthplace. An idyllic setting, it is no mere coincidence that Fleurier and the Val-de-Travers experienced the early 19th century boom in watchmaking activity that was to ensure the region’s prosperity for almost two centuries.
The distinctively sunny, luminous aspect of these Neuchâtel valleys; the serenity bestowed on them by their natural surroundings ; as well as the experience that the local population (known as Vallonniers or Valtraversins) had already developed in micromechanics with the production of machines intended for lacemaking, all represented ideal conditions for the birth of Haute Horlogerie.
Birth of Haute Horlogerie
While the current means of transport and communications now in place in this early 21st century ensure fast and easy year-round access, the formerly isolated Val-de-Travers remains the perfect setting for inspiring the creative expression of its watchmaking artisans.
This was motivation enough for Pascal Raffy to decide that he would set up BOVET’s watchmaking and engraving workshops in the Château de Môtiers, thereby helping to give the local watch industry the new lease on life that the region had been eagerly awaiting for 30 years.
Major redevelopment and renovation work was undertaken as soon as the sale was signed by the Canton of Neuchâtel and Pascal Raffy. The various parts of the building were allocated and restored in order to house a reception area, administrative premises and workshops. Substantial investments were made in order to ensure that the workshops would meet the essential quality criteria enabling watchmakers to exercise their art in the best possible conditions.
The broad area chosen for this purpose is ideally exposed and thus enjoys optimal natural light. It nonetheless had to be transformed in order to maintain a minimum and constant humidity rate as well as a pressurised atmosphere able to expel even the slightest traces of dust and impurities. As one can well imagine, this particular set of constraints represented a particularly delicate task for a listed historical monument dating back to the 14th century.