The new Audemars Piguet watch museum is an architectural marvel.
When you think about a museum, generally you imagine a large square building with multiple floors chocked with great art. However, Swiss watch brand Audemars Piguet has fascinated the world with its new watch museum. Founded in 1875 and nestled in the Valle’e de Joux watchmaking region of Le Brassus, Audemars Piguet is considered a holy-grail brand by serious collectors. Its rich horological history—steeped in many watchmaking firsts—has garnered the independently owned brand a sterling reputation.
So when Audemars Piguet opted to build a new museum, the executives had to think way outside the proverbial box and develop a formula that would blend tradition and visionary thinking. Given the historical countryside locale, a large glass building that would impose on the region’s natural beauty wasn’t an option. So, in 2014, Audemars Piguet created an architectural competition to build the Muse’e Atelier Audemars Piguet. BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) won, with its spiral-shaped glass pavilion. Set low to the ground, it complements the brand’s oldest building from centuries past.
The museum is a purposeful labyrinth of spirals winding their way from the ground up, with a façade of large glass window panels visible from the outside. Spiral rooftops are covered with green grass to match surrounding pastures. The 470- ton steel roof was an engineering marvel in and of itself, as it needed to withstand the weight of snowfalls in Le Brassus yet not crush the glass panels. While the museum deftly blends into the landscape, it also dazzles onlookers with its futuristic appeal.
To design the interior space and deliver a lively visitor experience, Audemars Piguet turned to German museum designer Atelier Bruckner. The firm incorporated free-standing displays, hanging showcases, and interactive exhibits for maximum visual impact. In total, the distinctive space showcases more than 300 timepieces, automaton, and mechanical movements spanning two centuries. What’s more? An entire spiral that recreates Audemars Piguet’s haute horlogerie workshops. Inside, master watchmakers and craftsmen demonstrate skills and expertise for museum visitors, who can try their own hand at finishing techniques. The museum opened in 2020 just before the pandemic and was quickly forced to close. Now, however, the world’s most uniquely designed watch museum has again opened its doors to the public.
The centuries-old tradition of watchmaking is all about are and architecture, yielding museum-worthy pieces.
HUBLOT: Hublot regularly partners with artists for special collections, and its collaboration with sculptor and artist Richard Orlinski may be one of the best yet, as it embodies his innate sense of geometric lines and shapes. The Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski King Gold ($29,400) watch features facets and angles on the case, bezel, lugs, and dial that evolve the timepiece into a true work of art.
GREUBEL FORSEY: Independent Swiss watch brand Greubel Forsey knows movement architecture. This GMT Quadruple Tourbillon watch ($760,000) is crafted in titanium and houses a hand-wound movement with three patents. Incredibly complicated, it features a three-dimensional globe and deep circular apertures for viewing movement parts. Only 11 pieces will be made.
MB&F: A deft blend of art and architecture, this titanium MB&F Legacy Machine X (LMX) ($112,000) offers time in two zones via tilted dials. Thanks to a domed sapphire crystal, the movement parts, including the raised balance wheel and battle-axe-shaped escapement bridge, reach out from beneath the green, CVD-treated plate for an alluring take on time.--RN