New watch museum, boutique, conversion of the main entrance area in the historic building of the IWC. The museum consists of two wings:
West wing: company history and watches 1868 – 1950, animated multimedia presentation of the company’s history.
East wing: watches and product families 1950 until today. Highly intricate watches and individual pieces, boutique, middle area with new reception and watchmaker’s workshop for public viewing.
Two phenomena were important in the project for the IWC museum:
1. The clock. This museum is a place to showcase the IWC-clock as a small and precious object.
2. The aesthetic context. In which world in terms of Interior Design do the customers want who purchase an IWC watch want to live?
The clock and the emptied area
To create a strong presence of the watch, we used the a main principle for inside of all showcases: The emptied area. The interior of the showcases belongs only to the watches. In the west wing this principle is applied as follows: the showcase has a large, snow-white framework; in its center, on the eye level of the viewer, there is an area consisting from light. It does not have any delimitations into the depth – comparable to the installations of James Turell.
All other things as the necessary descriptions and explaining pictures are outside of the showcase. Meanwhil within this area without anything other the object of desire is floating.
The central showcase in the east wing plays with a similar principle. In analogy to a historical Japanese safe deposit cabinet chromium steel stripes surround the showcase body and protect the watches. Simultaneously the steel strips polished in an intensity, that the material for the eye starts to dissolve.
By the visual peace in the showcase the eye focuses very directly and naturally on the clock. All showcases in the museum vary in various matters this principle of the emptied area.
The aesthetic context
The watches get surrounded by the contemporary interpretation of an English club. A club by its definition is a place where people meet, who share common interests and have similar aesthetic preferences.
Dark Makassar veneers, polished chrome showcases, black painted frameworks, leather covered walls – these materials are memorized in our common aesthetic memory as the embodiment of luxury.
The aesthetic impression gets completed by the use of very up-to-date materials. The Walls receive a wallpaper of metallically shining high-tech-fabric, showcases get by glass-fiber-reinforced plastic, metalized glasses cover up the stairway. Showcases are filled with glossy satined glass.
In the duality of modern and traditional materials emerges a complex and deep sphere of a place, which refers to a big past and at the same time radiating modernity.
There is a fantastic expression for the atmosphere of this area: Laid back luxury.
by Joseph Smolenicky
Architect: Smolenicky & Partner Architektur GmbH – Joseph Smolenicky
Project Management: Philipp Röthlisberger
Collaborators: Christoph Herr, Simon Krähenbühl, Juan-Carlos Smolenicky
Site Manager: Christof Keller
Client: IWC Schaffhausen, Branch of Richemont International SA
Location: Baumgartenstrasse 15, CH-8201, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Kind of project: Invited study commission 2005
Opening: june 2007
Floor area: 350 m2
Photos: Walter Mair