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Rio 2016 The Olympic bells - made in Switzerland

The Blondeau foundry in La Chaux-de-Fonds, canton Neuchâtel, has been producing bells for the Olympic Games since 1980. The latest examples will perform at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Olympic Games do not immediately conjure up images of bells, but they are frequently heard heralding the start of the final lap in running and cycling races. The watchmaker Omega, the official timer of the Olympic Games 2016, has ordered 21 bells for Rio.

The bellmaker is a small family business founded in the 1830s by Piedmontese immigrants. Today the company barely produces enough bells to allow business owner Serge Huguenin a livelihood. Since taking over the company from his father-in-law, Huguenin only works a few hours a week in his workshop where he makes bells to order or for tourist shops.

Reuters photographer Denis Balibouse visited the workshop in 2016, looking over Huhuenin’s shoulder as he produced his bells. The technical skill employed to make the bells has hardly changed over the centuries.

(Text: Alexander Thoele)

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