The Alps mountain range towers over eight different countries in the European continent, though they are perhaps most deeply ingrained in the culture of Switzerland. While the Swiss territory comprises only 14% of the entire range, the country itself is roughly 65% covered by Alpine peaks.
Swiss architecture, culinary and cultural traditions reflect the long relationship with Europe's highest and most extensive range. The slope-roofed Swiss chalet, designed specifically for wintry mountain living, is recognized worldwide, and tourism in Switzerland is in no small part made up of climbers, hikers, and skiers drawn to the snow-capped summits. Perhaps one of the most beloved symbols of Swiss mountain heritage is the Alpenhorn, a powerful instrument used to communicate across the far-flung peaks.
This year, the Swiss Alpenhorn took a symbolic part in a celebration of Swiss friendship with Italy, another important nation to the Alps. The event, titled "Alpenhorn stelle Hellebarden," or "Alphorns instead of Hellebarden," marked the anniversary of The Battle of Marignano which was fought between Italians and Swiss mercenaries; the hellebarde is a medieval type of weapon. After the battle, mercenaries were banned by Switzerland. To commemorate the peace and good relations now enjoyed between the two countries, 400 Swiss Alpenhorns traveled to play Rossini at the Piazza Duomo, in a combination of two great heritages.
Mondaine joined in the festivities, keeping time for the many players as another ambassador of Swiss culture. Mondaine Board Member, Ronnie Bernheim, even presented Swiss Federal Council member Mr. Ueli Maurer with a new watch to mark the momentous occasion.
The Alpenhorn concert occurred just months before the grand opening of the equally historic Gotthard Base Tunnel in 2016, which will further improve trade and travel relations between Switzerland, Italy, and fellow Alpine nation Germany. Mondaine will take up permanent station in the Alps upon the opening, as the Swiss Federal Railways' official time-keeping partner for the tunnel.
Among many commemorative events, a group of 100 hikers joined Mondaine in September for a 2-day trek from Bristol to Sedrun. The Gotthard Base Tunnel will run beneath the same territory, though certainly taking less time to do so!
Aside from enjoying breathtaking views and the camaraderie of the trek, participants were invited to snap photos to enter to win a Stop2go watch based on the votes of Mondaine's Facebook community. The winner, Bernard Develter, whose photo appears above, can now commemorate the miles hiked and summits reached among Switzerland's most important geographical landmarks with another piece of Swiss history for the wrist.