After a construction period of almost five years, Swatch inaugurates its new headquarters in Biel – one of the world’s largest timber structures, designed by the Japanese star architect Shigeru Ban. Heralding a new chapter in the history of the brand, this building defies current conventions,
just like the watches that are created there.

The shimmering, curved silhouette of the new Swatch building extends over a total length of 240 meters and a width of 35 meters. At its highest point, the façade measures 27 meters. The unusual design breaks with the conventions of classic office building architecture and blends harmoniously into the urban environment. The building’s forms awaken the imagination – like a work of art, the interpretation lies in the eye of the beholder.

The vaulted façade with an area of over 11,000 m2 rises gently towards the entrance and transitions to the Cité du Temps. Both exterior and interior of the building are interspersed with a variety of leitmotifs, with curved shapes, colors and transparency, as well as with the unusual use of classic materials and building elements.

A timber grid shell construction forms the basic structure of the large-area façade. The traditional material was chosen for its ecological and sustainable properties. Wood can also be processed flexibly and cut to extremely precise sizes – important properties for a construction where every millimeter is important. During the planning phase, modern 3D technology helped to define the exact shape and positioning of the approximately 4,600 beams of the timber grid shell.

Inside the building, 25,000 m2 of floor space is spread over five floors for all departments of Swatch International and Swatch Switzerland. The surface area of the four upper floors decreases successively from floor to floor, while galleries with glass balustrades provide a view of the lower floors. In addition to the regular workplaces, various common areas are distributed throughout the building: a cafeteria on the ground floor, which is open to all Swatch employees and their visitors; small rest areas at various locations in the building. For moments when privacy is necessary, separate “Alcove Cabins” accommodate up to six employees for telephone calls or work requiring particular concentration. An especially unusual installation is located at the very rear of the second floor: a staircase that leads to nowhere – the so-called “Reading Stairs” – whose steps and views encourage brainstorming among colleagues during creative breaks. Five black olive trees extend up to two stories in height. The evergreen Bucida buceras feels very comfortable at room temperature and keeps its fine leaves all year round.

Shigeru Ban (*1957 in Tokyo⁄Japan, winner of the 36th Pritzker Prize)

11,000 m2 façade area
4,600 wooden elements from 100% Swiss timber
2,800 honeycomb façade elements from up to 50 individually-tailored pieces
9 balconies of between 10 m2 and 20 m2 space

22 meter height

Zigzag glazing begins at a height of 5.5 meters and extends to a height of 22 meters
1 ton is the weight of each glass door at the entrance

240 meters long, 35 meters wide, 27 meters high

25,000 m2 surface over 5 floors

5 black olive trees (Bucida buceras)

Underground garage with 170 automobile parking spaces, 182 bicycle parking spaces

100% Swiss timber, primarily spruce

1,997 m3 timber used: an amount that can regrow in the Swiss forests in less than two hours

Heating and cooling of the building by groundwater pumping system for Swatch, Omega and Cité du Temps with nine underground wells and two former oil tanks which were converted into water reservoirs
442 curved solar elements, 1,770 m2 of photovoltaics installed