15.COM 8.B.8

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Switzerland and France have nominated Craftsmanship of mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics (no. 01560) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

At the crossroads of science, art and technology, the skills related to the craftsmanship of mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics are used to create watchmaking objects designed to measure and indicate time (watches, pendulum clocks, clocks and chronometers), art automata and mechanical androids, sculptures and animated paintings, music boxes and songbirds. These technical and artistic objects feature a mechanical device that generates movements or emits sounds. Though generally hidden, the mechanisms can also be visible, which contributes to the aesthetics and poetic dimension of the objects. The Jura Arc is an area in which craftsmanship remains particularly dynamic thanks to the presence of highly qualified craftspeople and companies that promote the skills and a full range of training options. Historically, entire families were involved in the practice, developing apprenticeship practices and professional and family alliances. Skills were initially learned in training schools. Nowadays, practitioners also share their know-how via online blogs, forums and tutorials and collaborative open source projects. As well as serving an economic function, the skills have also shaped the architecture, urban landscape and everyday social reality of the regions concerned. The practice conveys many values such as good workmanship, punctuality, perseverance, creativity, dexterity and patience, and the infinite quest for precision and the intangible aspect of time measurement give the practice a strong philosophical dimension.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   Craftsmanship of mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics has been transmitted through the generations in the area along the Jura Arc in Switzerland and France. The element is characterized by a combination of individual and collective, theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in the field of mechanics and micromechanics. The design, execution and restoration of mechanical objects involve various trades related to technical and artistic creation. The bearers of the related know-how are manifold and complementary. The skills related to the element have shaped the architecture, urban landscape and everyday social reality of the regions concerned. They convey their own symbolism, combining notions of precision, refinement and temporality that have a significant impact on local and regional identities.

R.2:   The inscription of craftsmanship in mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics will help ensure the visibility of the place of intangible cultural practices in the overall cultural heritage of the region thanks to the strong relationship between intangible cultural heritage and tangible and built heritage. The inscription will contribute to raising the visibility of a form of intangible cultural heritage that combines tradition and innovation, science, craftsmanship and industry, artistry and technique, hand and machine in the creation of mechanical works of art. The element adds to the diversity of the scope and range of intangible cultural heritage from the twenty-first century.

R.3:   The safeguarding measures are coherently and consistently structured around three priorities: documentation; training and transmission; and awareness-raising and enhancement. They express a clear and realistic engagement and include differentiated and complementary roles for the different stakeholders, as well as a mostly supporting, facilitating role on the part of the States Parties themselves. The proposed measures were drawn up by representatives of the groups concerned through a cross-border support group. The nomination emphasizes the cross-border nature of the measures.

R.4:   Both States Parties planned for and prepared the nomination in close collaboration with the bearers of the element and through their representatives during various meetings. The consent of the communities concerned in both States Parties – more specifically, the men and women, groups, associations and institutions active in watchmaking and art mechanical know-how – was sought through the bi-national drafting group and the support group. Various letters of consent from craftspeople and practitioners, collectors, training and research institutions, museums and documentation centers, professional associations, foundations and public and local authorities are presented in the nomination file.

R.5:   In Switzerland, the element was included in the List of Living Traditions in Switzerland in 2012, and was updated in 2017. The list is maintained by the Federal Office of Culture, the Culture and Society Section and updated every five years. The contents of each entry can be revised at any time upon the request of the communities. The element was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in France in 2018. The institution responsible for the inventory is the Ministry of Culture, Directorate General of Heritage – Department of Research and Scientific Policy Management. Around forty new elements are added to the inventory every year, while the information in each entry can be revised and reposted online at any time, upon the request of the communities.

  1. Decides to inscribe Craftsmanship of mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;

  2. Commends the States Parties for a well-prepared file that can serve as a good example of how the inscription of an element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity can contribute to ensuring the visibility and awareness of the significance of intangible cultural heritage, demonstrating the nomination of a cross-border element of living heritage which has been carried out in a cooperative, thorough manner, with a well elaborated process of participation and collaboration.

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