The Old Town
The town of Waldenburg has for centuries held a strategic position on the route between Italy and northern Europe. Even in Roman times, the town controlled the passage over the Hauenstein range of mountains and as a result it became a crossroads for all travelers in the region.
The history of the town becomes more detailed from around the mid-1200s when the Counts of Froburg ruled the area and fortified the town.
However, in the early 1800s the community was not flourishing and due to the poor economic situation, many residents were joining the rush to migrate from Europe to America. In an effort to fight the unemployment and poverty, the borough decided to introduce the watch and clock making industry and founded the ‘Société d’Horlogerie à Waldenburg’. It wasn’t until 1859, when Gédéon Thommen took over the enterprise, that it began to do well. Under Thommen’s leadership, the business grew and the local economy in the valley began to revive.
With the opening of the Waldenburgerbahn in 1880, access to and from the town became easier and lifeblood flowed back into the community.
The New Town
Today, whilst the town of Waldenburg has grown and has a population of 1,216 inhabitants, it is again feeling the effects of the poor economy that is gripping Europe and unemployment is rising. Local industry is mainly confined to agriculture – fruit growing, vine crops and alpine pastures, forestry and construction. In the latter part of the 1980s, the manufacturing tradition of Revue Thommen was almost lost and production was reduced.
It seems that history has travelled a full circle and new hands on the helm at Revue Thommen are committed to ensuring the company grows back bigger and better than ever before. Waldenburg will, once again, become a vibrant centre for the manufacture of Swiss Made watches, providing more jobs in the region, further developing expertise and reinforcing tradition.