Launched six years ago, the “workshop-museum” dedicated to watchmaking and the history of the Manufacture has finally opened its doors in Le Brassus, in the Vallée de Joux. With its breathtaking spiral glass architecture and nearly 300 historic timepieces on display inside, Audemars Piguet promises visitors an extraordinary experience in its cultural universe, between tradition and innovation.
A unique architectural feat
In this last corner of the Vaud region, Le Brassus, stands the Audemars Piguet Manufacture, an exceptional building with futuristic architecture imagined by the BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Danes who became architectural icons when they designed the One World Trade Center in New York.
An ultra-contemporary glass spiral that reminds visitors of a watch’s tourbillon. “That was the difficulty. A museum, but designed like a watch” said Sébastien Vivas, director of the museum and heritage department.
Entirely supported by its curved glass walls, this spiral represents a feat of engineering and design, a world first at this altitude.
The curved glazing fully supports the steel roof, while a subtle brass lattice surrounds the outer surface to regulate light and temperature. The vegetated roof helps neutralize temperature variations while absorbing water.
In fact, this pavilion was designed to blend in perfectly with its environment. The floors follow different inclinations, adapting to the natural slope of the land, and have dictated the interior layout of the museum.
“We like to create extraordinary things” adds Sébastien Vivas. We wanted to recall the complexity of a watch, a mixture of mastery and design, but through a new building, both invisible and unforgettable, respectful of the past and the landscape. We aspire to create a living place where we can share in an educational way, and also welcome watchmakers.”
An invitation to travel to the heart of Watchland
Inside this showcase, the “Workshop Museum” brings together some 300 watches and tells the story of the technical and aesthetic richness of the timepieces born in the Vallée de Joux over more than two centuries.
Each watch has two skilfully adjusted spotlights and the play on reflections, curves and lights takes the visitor on a journey of refined details, silence and rich lighting.
At the center of the spiral, two traditional workshops, Grandes Complications and Métiers d’Art, offer visitors a unique closeness to the craftsmen and an immersion in the heart of their know-how. An invitation to understand how the mechanical and aesthetic achievements that punctuate the museum are born.
The technical and creative aspects of watchmaking are told through various sculptures, automatons, kinetic installations, models of complex mechanical movements and didactic tables. This experience continues for the visitor to the workbench, which invites him to discover some of the ancestral techniques, such as satin-finishing and beading.
In homage to the astronomical cycles that have shaped the history of watchmaking, watches with complications are displayed in spherical showcases inspired by the solar system. Calendar, striking and chronograph watches gravitate around “L’Universelle”, the most complicated watch produced by Audemars Piguet to date.
This ambitious architectural and museographic project was born thanks to the creativity and collaboration of a multitude of experts: architects, engineers and local craftsmen who worked closely together to reach new heights.
Offering a unique perspective on the Valley and Haute Horlogerie, the Musée Atelier tells the beginning of a history and heritage that continues to grow.
“We wanted visitors to be able to experience our heritage, our know-how, our cultural origins and our openness to the world, in a space that reflects both our roots and our visionary spirit“, says Jasmine Audemars, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Audemars Piguet. “But above all we wanted to pay tribute to the watchmakers and craftsmen who, from generation to generation, have made the Manufacture Audemars Piguet what it is today“.
Lovers of Audemars Piguet and fine watchmaking in general can visit the heart of this distinctive and avant-garde spiral since June 25th.
To immerse themselves, and lose themselves in the spiral of time, between past, present and future.
Featured Photo : © Audemars Piguet
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