Sign Of The Times: Luxury Watchmaker Audemars Piguet Embraces Modular

The world of luxury goods has been slow to embrace sustainable practices, but Audemars Piguet is part of a new wave of Swiss watchmakers looking to buck the trend. The company has recently unveiled its new modular workshop in Le Locle, Switzerland, dubbed the Manufacture des Saignoles, with another facility on the way in nearby Le Brassus.

These large-scale architectural projects represent AP’s dedication to sustainability, with flexibility and modularity key pillars of the futuristic design. Revered across the world for crafting exquisite mechanical watches and clocks, these Swiss maestros haven’t wasted time in their pursuit of a lower carbon footprint.

AP called on Swiss architects Kuník de Morsier to design the Manufacture des Saignoles, which is comprised of a 10,400 square-metre one-storey building spread on several split levels. Drawing inspiration from the surrounding meadows, boglands and forests, the buildings integrate seamlessly with relief of the valley. Natural light is provided large bay windows made of SageGlass, a cost and energy-efficient electrochromic glass that tints depending on the sun to ensure better thermal regulation without compromising views of the surrounding landscape.

The building’s internal modular layout caters to employees’ ever-changing needs, while facilitating multidisciplinary teamwork. The geometric building’s spatial organisation and glass dividing walls give full visibility between the workshops making communication easier between staff.

Meanwhile, in Le Brassus, the construction of AP’s new workshop – the ‘Arc’ – is being conceived by De Giuli & Portier Architectes. Dwarfing the Manufacture des Saignoles in magnitude, this new U-shaped building will have three floors and a basement for technical rooms, connecting with AP’s longstanding Manufacture des Forges workshop. Together, the two buildings synergise all of the company’s industrial sites, without compromising long-term flexibility due to a unique modular layout.

Once complete, the Arc will benefit from an innovative energy management plan, which includes use of industrial waste heat, remote fossil-free wood-based heating, and photovoltaic panels. From a carefully designed partial land use plan, to a green roof installed to create a biotope for insects and birds, everything in the Arc has been chosen with carbon footprint reduction in mind.