There are 10 villages and 6,000 residents in Vallee de Joux, Switzerland. The design house of Jaeger-LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet requires that many people for its plants, at the very least. Basically, Switzerland is too small to provide watchmakers with the labor they need. As a result, they need cross-border horologers who are usually French.
Swiss watch making is undeniably a large industry in Switzerland. Last year, its sales reached $11.5 billion. And it has also generated 19,000 jobs in the decade until 2008. It is the country’s fourth-largest export industry. Most watches are manufactured in a 180-mile arc that runs from Geneva up to the Schaffhausen (German border). But about a third of the people who work in the industry are not Swiss. When the industry cut around 4,000 jobs, the Swiss unemployment rate went up to 4% from 2.5%.
In addition, the percentage of non-Swiss workers in the industry rose from 43% in 2001 to 53% in 2008. Cross-border workers usually live in France or Germany and they earn less than the average wage of Swiss workers. As a result, a lot of manufacturers increasingly prefer these workers. The unemployment rate of Swiss residents in the watch making industries is now at 11% from a mere 3.4% a couple of years ago.