Architecture & Design

Jaquet Droz: environmental levitation


On the heights above La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the heart of Neuchâtel’s mountain country, a large construction polished to a sheen appears to levitate. It resembles a sculpture carved into a shiny metal block, a vast mirror that reflects the surrounding Nature.

By David Richard

Time as an eternal mirror

In many ways it evokes Jaquet Droz’s lucidity and sophistication through architecture. It is undoubtedly a work of art, one that reflects the product of the brand’s watchmakers. The overall structure follows the terrain’s declivity by using a stepped composition that ends to the north in a cantilevered section.

This makes the building appear to float over the landscape, thus triggering a relationship with the surroundings. The changes generated by the passing of time and the rhythm of the seasons animates the façade. The specific configuration leaves space to extend the building if needed by extruding the form, which the 55 concrete elements deliberately cover.

Quoting the architect

“Our starting point was the amazing natural environment, which we took to define our role. Hence, we chose an intervention that was more “land-art” than traditional factory. We believe that we let the environment guide our project. The idea was to work on the building’s main façade to make it look like a sculpture, thus creating a big mirror that reflects its surroundings. We took the materials and contrasts found on watches and re-interpreted them from an architectural perspective in our choice of materials and details both inside and outside the building.” Patrick Reymond – Atelier Oï

  • Brand: Montres Jaquet Droz SA, Atelier de haute horlogerie à La Chaux-de-Fonds
  • Address :Allée du Tourbillon, CH-2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds
  • Telephone:+41 32 924 2888
  • Website: 
  • Function: Head office and production unit
  • CEO: Marc A. Hayek
  • Commissioning: Laying of the foundation stone on 9 September 2009
  • Completion: date Summer 2010
  • Architect: Atelier oï-sa (La Neuveville)


This article is an extract from our page Horology & Architecture

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