It all started with an understandable desire of the watch company to expand its exhibition areas. The first Audemars Piguet museum opened 25 years ago, in 1992, in a historic building owned by the Audemars family. Today, the archival collection numbers more than 1,500 pieces of historical watches, created both by the craftsmen of the Audemars Piguet company (it was registered in 1875) and by independent watchmakers from the Zhu Valley, many of whom bore the names of Piguet and Audemars and were distant relatives.
After the expansion of the premises in 2004, it became clear that a new museum was needed. The winner of the competition was the project of the Danish bureau BIG: Bjarke Ingels understood better than others how to combine the modest four-story buildings of the 19th century, belonging to the founding family, and the avant-garde exhibition space of the 21st century made of glass and concrete, while organically fitting it into the landscape of the valley. Today, a clock spiral is being built here - the main detail of the mechanism became the prototype for the construction of the new museum.
© press service Audemars Piguet
The project turned out to be a real Grande Complication from architecture. For example, the metal roof had to be installed before the walls of curved glass (each fragment weighs more than two tons) in order to completely, down to a millimeter, form the silhouette of a spiral. “It’s not too logical, but otherwise we would have to, like in a watch, first completely assemble the structure, and then disassemble it to fit all the details,” explains Sebastian Vivas, director of the museum.
The foundation is made in the form of a solid, non-deformable concrete slab with a perfectly adjusted geometry, since there will not be many smooth surfaces in the future museum. Under it was laid a "message" to future generations - a sealed capsule with a full set of Royal Oak parts (the classic steel model 15400 with automatic caliber 3120 was chosen), tools and assembly instructions. A young employee of the restoration workshop Malika wrote a letter by hand to the watchmakers of the future. “Watches are people who pass on their passion and experience through generations,” Vivas comments.
Universelle Pocket Watch © Audemars Piguet Press Service
While the construction of the museum is underway (under favorable weather conditions, the entire construction part will be completed by next spring, and it will take another year for the interior decoration and organization of the exhibition space), Audemars Piguet is replenishing its historical collection. Last year, an ultra-complicated Universelle pocket watch was bought directly from the famous collector Markus Margulis. From the archives it became known that the development of the mechanism was started by Louis Elise Piguet, then the caliber was refined at Audemars Piguet and in 1899 was sold to the Union Glashutte company in Dresden, where it was enclosed in a gold case. The movement of 1168 parts is equipped with a perpetual calendar, repeater with large and small striking, split-chronograph, dead second, alarm clock. The exhibit entered the restoration workshops of Audemars Piguet, while still in the possession of a British collector. As a result, not only the most complicated Universelle pocket watches, but also 88 unique and rarest Audemars Piguet watches returned to the watch manufacture forever. They will soon be taking over their showcase rooms at the Founders' House.>