Rolex Bienne Building 7 Completion
Architecture & Design

Horology & Architecture: Rolex Bienne, a 21st-century manufacture

The architectural concept of the new Rolex facility in Bienne is boldly industrial: a simple orthogonal plan, stringent and efficient, with wide, geometrical and lucid spaces.

By David Richard

Streamlined and stringent architecture

Moreover, it harmonizes well with the company’s Geneva sites in terms of look, shape, materials and colours. Rounding off the building is a system of interior and exterior yards creating seven-metre deep wells that celebrate the movements, the building’s trademark, and guide in daylight.

A partially vegetative roof terrace, a coffee bar and a 450-seat cafeteria reflect the quality of the production facilities, which are entirely dedicated to making watch movements. Particularly noteworthy is the fully-automated, 8,000-cubic-metre underground stocking area, designed as a silo, a veritable  honeycomb numbering 46,000 alveoli and able to store tens of millions of components…

Quoting the architect

“The underlying idea is to integrate the different services of an industrial building into a single installation. The analogy with a cloister, an industrial cooperative building, or a phalanstère, is supported by the creation of specific manufacturing spaces, complemented by administrative surfaces, open or enclosed recreational areas, courtyards, restaurants, cafeterias, a library and an auditorium. An orthogonal and hierarchized traffic network guides the users to the various sections of the building.” Gebert Architectes SA

Sustainable environment

  • Building with Minergie® seal
  • Ground water for heating and cooling
  • Photovoltaic panels on the roof
  • Heat pumps and high yield refrigeration units
  • Recovery of heat from ventilated air and compressed air
  • Advanced integration of industrial procedures with the building’s technical systems 
  • Building equipped with a powerful thermal envelope
  • Improved thermal inertia thanks to roof vegetation

Rolex, Usine de Bienne

Address: Rue David-Moning 9, CH-2504 Bienne
Telephone: +41 32 339 4444
Function: Production unit
CEO: Jean-Frédéric Dufour
Commissioning: Contract signed in 2007. Laying of the foundation stone on 30 September 2009
Completion date: 16 October 2012
Architects: Gebert Architekten et Strässler, Storck (Bienne), Caretta and Weidmann (Zurich) 

The building in numbers

  • The entire manufacture combines two extant units and the new building (230,000 m3) under a single roof. This creates a total surface of 400,000 m3; equivalent to 13 football pitches (92,000 m2).
  • Extension area 50,000 m2
  • Volume of excavated materials 100,000 m3
  • Excavation depth 11 metres
  • Amount of concrete 21,000 m3
  • Amount of frameworks 2,700 tonnes of steel
  • Footprint 70 m x 180 m
  • Net usable space 134,000 m
  • Occupied work stations in Bienne more than 2,000 (administration and production)

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

And receive each week a custom selection of articles.

Horology & Architecture: Extension and natural integration at Jaeger-LeCoultre

By David Richard
Ever since its founding in 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been expanding its manufacturing facilities in its favourite environment, the Vallée de Joux. 

Horology & Architecture: Greubel Forsey, back to the future

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

Jaquet Droz: environmental levitation

By David Richard
HOROLOGY & ARCHITECTURE - 4th manufacture: JAQUET DROZ On the heights above La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the heart of Neuchâtel’s mountain country, a...