Announced in 2014 as part of a massive expansion of headquarters in Le Brassus, the Audemars Piguet museum is now complete, although the public will have to wait end-June 2020 to visit. The vintage-inspired Remaster01 Chronograph limited edition was launched last month to commemorate this very occasion.
Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the Danish architects responsible for Google’s new North Bayshore headquarters, the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is a low-slung spiral that gently rises out of the fields right behind the building Audemars Piguet has occupied since 1875. Inspired by a balance spring, the museum is almost entirely curved glass.
A hundred and eight panels of structural glass support the steel roof that’s covered with a garden, blending into the pastoral landscape of the Vallee de Joux, the homely heart of Swiss watchmaking.
A spiral into the past and future
Visitors to the museum will follow the spiral through the building – first clockwise towards the centre and then in the other direction to the conclusion – accompanied by some 300 timepieces dating from the 19th century to the present.
At the centre of the spiral sit a selection of the brand’s grand complication watches, including the massive Universelle pocket watch from 1899. And appropriately, at the end of the spiral is the showcase dedicated to the Royal Oak, the present and probable future of Audemars Piguet.
But the building is also a working museum – musée atelier translates as “museum workshop” – and is home to the workshops for Grandes Complications as well as Métiers d’Art.
The former is where the most complicated Audemars Piguet watches – combining a minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph, and perpetual calendar – are put together over several months. And the latter is specialised in high-jewellery timepieces – essentially jewelled watches with six-figure price tags – and is home to skilled gem-setters and engravers.
Stay a night
The museum is just half of Audemars Piguet’s ambitious development next to its factory. The other half is a revamp of the hotel long owned by Audemars Piguet, which was home to Le Chronographe restaurant. Comfortable but rustic, the Hôtel des Horlogers will reopen in summer 2021.
Like the museum, the new hotel will be airy, modern, and almost all glass. It will go from two-dozen rooms to over 60, becoming sleek, upscale accommodations that will be a novelty in the area.
The museum will be open to the public from June 25, 2020. Entry is by appointment only and tickets have to be reserved online at Museeatelier-audemarspiguet.com.
Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet
Route de France 18
1348 Le Brassus
Correction May 4, 2020: Entry to the museum requires a paid ticket, and is not free as stated in an earlier version of the article.Back to top.
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Danish architectural firm BIG has been commissioned by Audemars Piguet to design the watchmaker's new museum. With a form like the spiral of a hairspring, the museum will showcase the history of the oldest, family owned watchmaker in the fabled Vallée de Joux.
The watchmaker is reshaping the landscape around its factory with an expansive new museum and luxury hotel.