New Museum Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet: enter the spiral of time

Stunning, groundbreaking and even mind-blowing, the new Musée Atelier of Audemars Piguet is not a mere contemporary design masterpiece dedicated to the watchmaking art, but an actual immersion into the philosophy and spirit of one of the best Manufacture of the world. A must-see in Le Brassus.

By Kassandre Fradelin
Born from the creativity and collaboration of numerous experts, Audemars Piguet’s Musée Atelier is an ambitious architectural and museographic project

At the heart of the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland – some would say in the middle of nowhere – Audemars Piguet inaugurated at the end of June its new Musée Atelier with an avant-garde architecture in the shape of a glass spiral – fully integrated into the surrounding nature. Breathtaking. With this astonishing and innovative building, the visionary Manufacture of Le Brassus promises to provide visitors with an immersive experience in the whirlwind of its history between past, present and future.

To understand the importance of the new Musée Atelier, one must go back to 1875, when the city of Le Brassus saw the birth of Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet’s first workshop. Indeed, it stands on the very same grounds as the historic building formerly did. The new edifice harmoniously blends in with the old renovated building one, the Maison des Fondateurs, through a boldly modern glass spiral structure.

Audemars Piguet : innovation at the service of tradition

After a careful restoration by the CCHE architecture office and local artisans, the walls of the period building are now covered with wooden panels from the traditional houses of the Vallée de Joux. Thanks to archival documents the original patina was restored, and revivify the soul and the vernacular architecture of the old workshop. In addition to the archives, it now houses the Heritage Department, the Audemars Piguet Foundation and the Restoration Workshop.

The spiral designed by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) seamlessly integrates into the surrunding landscape – Photo: Audemars Piguet

The monumental spiral reveals the depth of Audemars Piguet’s technical modernity. It was designed by BIG (Bjarke, Ingels Group) and produced by CCHE Swiss architects. Together, with designers and town planners, they succeeded in creating this immense structure with curved glass walls. The spiral is flooded in natural light and with a breathtaking view on this mythical valley, the cradle of Swiss watchmaking. According to Sébastien Vivas, Audemars Piguet’s Heritage and Museum director, “the technical complexity of its architecture and scenography connects it to highly complicated movement of a Grande Complication.

The Musée Atelier combines contemporary architecture, innovative museography and traditional savoir-faire – Photo: Audemars Piguet

Ecology first, a steadfast pledge for Audemars Piguet

This new avant-garde building falls within he vast ecological movement launched by the watch manufacturer. It thus meets the latest requirements in terms of energy efficiency. In fact, the watchmaking house has been very committed to the protection of the environment for several decades now, and above all, has been engaged towards forest conservation. This is the main goal of the Audemars Piguet Foundation, created in 1992, which not only actively participate to the movement of forest and ancestral knowledge conservation but also in raising the awareness of people around the world. The Foundation is particularly involved in projects in Madagascar, Brazil, India, Namibia and Senegal. To illustrate this commitment within their new Musée Atelier, a superb amelanchier tree stands symbolically in the spiral atrium. This small tree, with beautiful foliage and blooms, is a proud emblem of the Swiss brand’s constant commitment to sustainable development.

Entirely supported by glass walls, the building incorporates a brass trellis that encircles the exterior surface to regulate light and temperature without concealing the view – Photo: Audemars Piguet

Audemars-Piguet : an exceptional and historical savoir-faire

The scenography allows visitors to immerse themselves into the expertise of Audemars Piguet’s tradition and admire invaluable timepieces closer than ever to the heart of the House. For Jasmine Audemars, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, it is above all a question of paying “tribute to the watchmakers and craftspeople who have made what Audemars Piguet is today, generation after generation. “

At the center of the spiral, in front oh the Grandes Complications Atelier, astronomical, chiming and chronograph watches orbit around the “Universelle”, the most complicated watch ever produced by Audemars Piguet – Photo: Audemars Piguet

Following the course of the spiral we wander through the middle of a set of nearly three hundred Audemars Piguet watches. Presented in spherical display cases in homage to astronomical cycles, they all tell the story of the manufacture’s development. Highlight of the visit: it is possible to admire the “Universal”, the most remarkable instrument to date created by the Manufacture of Le Brassus, which contains no less than 20 complications and 1,168 components. A feat of micromechanics dating from… 1899.

A true feat of watchmaking micromechanics, “L’Universelle” uses more than 20 complications and 1,168 components for its movement. – Photo: Audemars Piguet

At the center of the spiral structure are two essential workshops: Grandes Complications and Métiers d’Art. Bringing together experts, master watchmakers, jewelers, gem setters and engravers, who are the creators of true masterpieces, these two essential sectors aim to reveal to the public the meticulous and remarkable work of those dedicated their patience and passion at Audemars Piguet.

Imbued by the past, anchored in the present and looking towards the future…Audemars Piguet’s philosophy

In addition to the watchmaking heritage, the museum will occasionally exhibit contemporary works, such as photographs by Dan Holdsworth and his Vallée de Joux series, or Subliminal Moving Shapes, a sound installation by Alexandre Joly. A liminal space, where both technical and artistic pieces can be enjoyed.

The blued hands of the [Re]master01 chronograph subtly contrast with the dial golden hues – Photo: Audemars Piguet

The new Audemars Piguet Chronograph [Re]master01, in limited edition to 500 pieces pays tribute to the event

To celebrate the opening of its new museum, Audemars Piguet created a contemporary version of one of its rarest chronographs, produced in 1943. Limited to 500 copies, the self-winding [Re]master01 is equipped with the flyback function, a complication which can stop the current timing and instantaneously start a new one in a single operation. Faithful to the original model, this reinterpretation flaunts a steel case with a pink gold bezel, crown and pushers which give it elegance and preciousness. Refinement is also the watchword of the golden dial and its three counters with pink gold time hands and blue ones for the chronograph and tachymeter. The set comes with a strap in light brown calfskin or alligator leather in the same shade.

See the technical sheet of the [Re]master01 Chronograph

The [Re] master01 has a steel case and teardrop lugs with a pink gold bezel, crown and pushers – Photo: Audemars Piguet

Alongside the creation of this innovative Musée Atelier, a splendid hotel called “Hôtel des Horlogers” will see the light of day in 2021. Designed by BIG and produced in partnership with CCHE, it will likewise be a sustainable space, at a harmoniouscrossroads between tradition, innovation and respect for nature.

Musée Atelier – The making of

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