Inside Audemars Piguet’s ‘hairspring’ museum

Sebastian Vivas, the Heritage and Museum Director at Audemars Piguet, speaks with unrestrained ardour in regards to the new Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet. The spiral-shaped museum atop a grassy knoll within the picturesque watchmaking village of Le Brassus (an hour from Geneva), Switzerland, opened per week in the past and Vivas had a hand in choosing a lot of the 300-plus objects on show.

Though our cellphone dialog is peppered with PR-friendly statements like, “We’re respecting the past but building the future,” and the way “visitors will appreciate the quality and beauty of the experience [discussing the radical choice of design]”, the occasional bon mots higher sum up his ideas. For instance, he speaks with disdain in regards to the introduction of quartz watches within the 1980s, an existential disaster for the business on the time, sharing, “Quartz watches are not made by watchmakers, but by my electricians.” An unsurprising assertion for somebody who has printed a examine on quartz within the Journal Suisse d’Horlogerie.

Follow the spiral

The museum isn’t the primary of its type within the space (Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Heritage Gallery is a neighbour), however it’s the first to open publish Covid-19. The Musée Atelier, that includes solely handmade watches, has been designed by in-demand Copenhagen architect Bjarke Ingels’ agency BIG. So the up to date 25,000 sq. metre spiral building — impressed by a watch’s hairspring, and crafted from curved glass, brass mesh and metal — is dramatic and in stark distinction to the 2 19th century buildings that it’s nestled between. Vivas says the design is a “counterbalance” to its environment, reflecting the model’s rootedness and forward-thinking spirit.

Inside, curved glass partitions and a sloping terrazzo flooring (tailored to the land’s pure gradient) descend clockwise, guiding guests by means of the varied displays. Timepieces displayed in metallic circumstances formed like astronomical devices, are sometimes juxtaposed with supplies that tie it to the land, like samples of iron (a hat tip to the village’s mining historical past). The assortment, which additionally consists of sculptures and transferring fashions that display the interior workings of watches, serves as an introduction to Swiss horologists and the historical past of Audemars Piguet, which, until 1951, bought its problems to distributors.

Inside Audemars Piguet’s ‘hairspring’ museum
Vivas picks three

  • 1899 Universelle: This pocket watch occupies the central showcase within the museum and is made up of 1,168 elements for simply the motion. “It is the most complicated timepiece the brand has made and came in for restoration a few years ago. It took four years to restore and the brand was lucky to persuade the owner to sell it back to us,” says Vivas.
  • 1943 Chronograph: The watch was the idea of the [Re]Master 01, which was launched in March. The limited-edition reissue relies on a 1943 design. Vivas sees this explicit mannequin as a bridge between previous and future.
  • 1972 Royal Oak: The museum is residence to one of many first-ever Royal Oaks ever made — Watch no 19 from the very first batch. Since its introduction, the metal watch has damaged the rule of aesthetics and performed a job within the survival of Audemars Piguet.

While the model has had a non-public museum since 1992, in line with Vivas, the brand new iteration — for which he has been placing collectively the displays since 2012 — “will be a living museum, animated by masterclasses and labs”. Such because the Grandes Complications workshop, which is able to clarify how a single watch is painstakingly assembled from 648 items over the span of eight months, and the Métiers d’Art workshop, which is able to showcase jewellers and gem setters at work on the Haute Joaillerie collections.

In first particular person

How will the museum make use of the digital, particularly now? Not by means of digital excursions. “Both the museum and its digital presence will be complimentary. But to offer a completely guided online tour is not our idea because nothing will replace the experience of being here. We will, however, organise talks for particular watches and around certain events.” Stressing that “we are not planning for the next five to six months, but for the next 50 to 60 years”, Vivas shares that it will likely be impractical to let individuals see the 300+ objects on a display. “The story from this region is about exporting handmade timepieces to the world’s capitals. That is what has made people want to come and visit this small, isolated village,” he concludes.

The museum is at present providing guided visits by appointment for teams of as much as 12 individuals. The 90-minute excursions can be found on weekdays by means of September 28. Details:

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