Switzerland may tick and tock to the rhythm of the 70,000 resident clockmakers who labour on the country’s numerous watch brands, but Geneva – with more watch manufacturers than anywhere else on Earth – is the country’s regulating valve. Where better to start a tour of the city than at the world’s largest floral clock, l’Horloge Fleurie? With a diameter of five metres, it’s made up of nearly 6,500 flowers and is located in the Jardin Anglais on the banks of Lake Geneva.
L’Horloge Fleurie, Jardin Anglais, quai du Général Guisan, 1200 Geneva, +41 (0)22 909 7000
Patek Philippe is one of the most prestigious addresses in the city and walking into its celebrated salon feels like entering a gigantic gold-encrusted jewellery box. The boutique hides a private VIP consultation room on its second floor. Dress to impress, as the burly men on the doors will only open the security doors at the flash of a credit card.
Patek Philippe, 41 rue du Rhône, 1204 Geneva, +41 (0)22 809 5050
Romantic philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau drew on the very soul of time for inspiration. Take a trip back to the 17th century by visiting the house he once lived in, which was then situated in central Geneva. Inside the Espace Rousseau museum, visitors can trace the life of the Enlightenment writer, musician and thinker and discover how his political views inspired the French Revolution.
Espace Rousseau, 40 Grand’Rue, 1211 Geneva, +41 (0)22 310 1028
Billboards on every rooftop shout the names of Omega, Piaget, Raymond Weil, Tissot, Breitling, Franck Muller, Rolex and Jaeger-LeCoultre – seek out the real thing on Geneva’s most exclusive shopping street, rue du Rhône. Gübelin, Switzerland’s most famous multi-retailer watch boutique, sits at its junction with place du Molard and is the place to find a timepiece by Audemars Piguet or Baume et Mercier.
Gübelin, place du Molard 1, 1211 Geneva, +41 (0)22 310 8655
Patek Philippe Museum
Behind its bank-vault door the Patek Philippe Museum hides more than 500 years of watchmaking history. There are watches made of wood, chronographs, chronometers, watches for the Chinese market enamelled with Taoist temples and pagodas, watches for the Turkish market decorated with Islamic motifs, watches shaped like harps and Spanish guitars and watches designed to let one ‘feel’ the time – whatever that may mean. Upstairs, 8,000 books on the history of watchmaking and navigation are housed in an extensive library.
Patek Philippe Museum, rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 7, 1205 Geneva, +41 (0)22 807 0910