The new Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is a perfect example of what happens when you apply the manufacture’s slogan — ‘To break the rules, you must first master them’ — to architecture.

Those still labouring under the notion that ‘bold’ and ‘discreet’ are mutually exclusive concepts would surely change their minds should they make the pilgrimage — a bucket-list-topping experience for anyone with even a passing interest in watches — to a new spiral-shaped building that rises out of the majestic landscape of Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux: the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, an impressive pavilion that sits adjacent to the original, 1875-founded Audemars Piguet workshop.

“When we started digging into both watchmaking and the identity of Audemars Piguet, and how the brand values correlate with how we work, we came across this idea of ‘bigamy’ — the notion that you don't have to choose one or the other concept,” says Bjarke Ingels, whose design agency, BIG, won a competition to come up with a building in which the haute horlogerie brand could house a collection of 300 timepieces. “You can actually marry, or combine, seemingly mutually exclusive ideas into a single entity. Look at phrases like ‘social infrastructure’ or ‘pragmatic utopia’. They sound like oxymorons, but they’re actually a path forward to a new and unexpected hybrid.”


June 2020


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