Museums might conjure memories of school excursions and dust-covered rooms where display visuals loom over informative text in a font-size so small it may as well be written in Egyptian hieroglyphics, none of that comes to mind when you see the Audemars Piguet Musee Atelier. Designed by the Danish architectural firm BIG, the museum could very well be declared a national monument. Audemars Piguet are already renowned in the industry, and what better way to celebrate the watchmaker and their ingenious designs than a museum that houses its collection of timepieces.
But timepieces aside, the museum itself is something to behold. The spiral-shaped building rises out of the landscape of the Vallee de Joux in Switzerland which, for those like us who don’t do well with French-sounding words, is basically a fancy way of saying the Swiss Mountains. With curved glass walls and a green roof, the pavilion sits alongside the original Audemars Piguet workshop which was first established in 1875.
Inside, you’ll find over 300 watches of exception that span over two centuries of history. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of watches or simply prefer to stick with the time displayed on your phone screen, this museum stands to not only convert you to the finer models, but it also showcases the incredible process that goes into each timepiece. Traditional workshops, where some of the manufacturer’s most complicated timepieces are still perfected today, have been included in the museum’s spatial experience.
In a statement, Jasmine Audemars, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, said: “We wanted visitors to experience our heritage, savoir-faire, cultural origins and openness to the world in a building that would reflect both our rootedness and forward-thinking spirit. But, before all, we wanted to pay tribute to the watchmakers and craftspeople who have made what Audemars Piguet is today, generation after generation.”
The museum’s spiral design is echoed in the timepieces, with the masterpiece watches located at the centre of the spiral. The astronomical, chiming and chronograph complications at the heart of the Audemars Piguet brand are orbiting around the ultra-complicated Universelle pocket watch from 1899. The watch exhibition then ends on a rich collection of Royal Oak, Royal Oak Offshore and Royal Oak Concept.
Two ateliers also sit within the museum, allowing visitors to gaze in wonder at the watchmakers at work. In the Grandes Complications workshop, a single watch is painstakingly assembled from 648 pieces over the course of eight months. Meanwhile at the second workshop, the Metiers d’Art, jewellers and gem-setters work on the Haute Joaillerie collections.
The incredible museum will be re-opening later this year (with an expected date of June 25, 2020), allowing visitors to see not only the heart of the brand’s watchmaking process, but also experience the Swiss landscape in all its glory in a contemporary museum infused with energy and natural wonder. Visitors will be able to discover how the brand lives around the world today through numerous immersive exhibitions.
For more information and opening dates, visit museeatelier-audemarspiguet.com