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Swatch: New headquarters and a lot of questions

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February 2020


Swatch: New headquarters and a lot of questions

The magnificent “serpent” designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban for Swatch took more than eight years to rise out of the ground and unfurl its coils in the town of Biel/Bienne. But this uncoiling comes at a time when sales of the watch that in its day “saved Swiss watchmaking” are taking a serious nose-dive. Will it help them level out?

T

he new Swatch headquarters is an outstanding building. At its inauguration, the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the recipient of the 2014 Pritzker Prize (the Nobel prize of architecture), emphasised his already long history with the Swatch Group, for which he designed the iconic building in Tokyo Ginza back in 2004, and the close collaboration that was crucial to the success of an edifice such as this. And you can well believe him, because the building – if you can call it such – is one of great beauty and offers an outstanding working environment while at the same time singling out Swatch’s “different” image. He encompassed the exterior and interior in a broad, reptilian shape, the head of which reposes on a second, lower building housing the Omega and Swatch museums.


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