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Reuge workshop tour


The machines making tiny music boxes




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Switzerland is a world leader not only in watchmaking, but also for crafting beautiful handmade music boxes. swissinfo.ch takes a peek inside the Reuge workshops at Sainte-Croix in the Jura mountains.

The founder Charles Reuge began work in Geneva, where some of the first music boxes were made at the turn of the 19th century. Their principle remains the same today. A mechanical movement turns a cylinder or a metallic disk fitted with pins, which pluck the tuned teeth of a steel comb in a certain order to produce a tune.

In 1865, Reuge established his first musical pocket-watch shop in the village of Sainte-Croix in canton Jura. Today, the village and its music box industry appear frozen in time. Every piece is still made by hand. But alongside traditional boxes with detailed inlaid work, there are movements set in boxes which reflect the latest modern design trends (Photos and sound: Thomas Kern).