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Architecture & Design

Horology & Architecture: Greubel Forsey, back to the future

Meshing a 17th-century farm and a state-of-the-art industrial building perfectly exemplifies the creative energy of the founders of Greubel Forsey.

By David Richard

The essence of symbols

Implementation of this design was in fact the condition under which the land was sold. The farm had to be conserved, renovated and improved. It was one of the oldest farms in the region, and one hardly needs reminding that these venerable buildings served in fact as the first watchmaker workshops.  This section is mainly intended as a reception, but it also houses the workshops where the unique pieces are produced.

These are the pride of the brand, famous for its double 30°-degree tourbillon. It's an angle that is reproduced to an extent in the new section, a modern building with a double envelope that regroups all the workshops that were so far spread over seven different sites. Some see in it the geological traces of the Jura's watchmaking industry, while others, most certainly, will see the brand's dazzling entry into the world of haute horlogerie.

Quoting the architect

This space emerging from the ground with its grassed roof is the product of geological thinking. It does recall  the cracks in the  small valleys of the Jura folds which I used to work on the idea of  raising the ground.” Pierre Studer

Sustainable environment

Passive building design in terms of energy thanks to a double envelope of glass that filters the air and regulates the temperature (with no air conditioning) for  optimum energy use.

Greubel Forsey SA, La Chaux-de-Fonds

Address: Eplatures-Grise 16, CH- 2301 La Chaux-de-Fonds, canton de Neuchâtel
Telephone number: +4132 925 4545
Web site: www.greubelforsey.com
Function: Head office and production unit
CEO: Emmanuel Vuille
Site director: Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey
Commissioned: 2007
Completion date: September 2009
Architect: Pierre Studer SA (La Chaux-de-Fonds)

The building in numbers

  • Grounds area 5,498 m2
  • Built-up area 1,440 min all+ 372 mfor the farm
  • Footprint 54 m x 27 m
  • Volume of excavated earth: 3,000 m3
  • Amount of concrete: 7,600 tonnes (3’000 m3)
  • Quantity of armatures 150 tonnes of steel
  • Glassed surface 890 m2 for the manufacture and 85 m2 for the roof
  • Wood frame 190 m3
  • Occupied work stations 90/100 (administration and production)
  • Number of parking spaces 34 underground, 27 outside (temporary)

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This article is an extract from our series on Horology & Architecture

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