08 Nov THE REVOLUTION OF THE WATCHMAKER’S WORKBENCHES: INNOSPACE
AUDEMARS PIGUET & SARDI: THE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP INTERNATIONALLY AWARDED
Three years of intensive research, development, and design work have gone into the INNOSPACE project. The Swiss watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet in collaboration with the Swiss-Italian industrial design consultancy SARDI has completely redesigned the watchmaker’s workbench and made it fit for the future. The result has twice won: “Best of the Best” by the jury of the Red Dot Design Award, one of the largest and most important design competitions worldwide, and winner at the IF Design Award, the other most wanted award competition worldwide. It won both as a groundbreaking product of the highest design quality. This also brings the innovative workstation to museum honors since it will be on display for a year as part of the “Milestones of Contemporary Design” exhibition at the Red Dot Design Museum in Essen, Germany.
From left to right: Paul Maurin (AUDEMARS PIGUET‘s INNOSPACE’s Project Manager), Thierry Chevillat (AUDEMARS PIGUET‘s Head of Industrialization), Enrique Luis Sardi (SARDI‘s founder), Bruno Boffin (AUDEMARS PIGUET‘s Senior project manager) holding the Red Dot and IF Design awards, all together.
1 INNOSPACE – frontal view of one typical setting, complete with instruments.
2 Red Dot Design awards: Red Dot Award certificate and Red Dot Best of the Bests’ trophy.
3 Top view of INNOSPACE’s arms support (AKA “accoudoir”), cervical saver, and the tabletop fully made with anti-reflecting surfaces.
How do you renew a century-old workplace?
Tradition is writ large in the Swiss luxury watch segment. Since as early as 1875, the Swiss manufacturer Audemars Piguet has been making watches in the Haute Horlogerie tradition, the equivalent of the haute couture of the fashion world. The watchmakers used workbenches for their precision craft that has remained unchanged since the 18th century. As a result, around 16 percent of watchmakers develop problems with their cervical vertebrae sooner or later and have to take time off work due to illness or give up their work altogether. To fundamentally renew and improve the workplaces, François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, brought Enrique Luis Sardi and his team of industrial design experts from SARDI on board as partners. Employees of the agency spent months on-site in Le Brassus to first analyze all work processes and then optimize the workstations on this basis in terms of ergonomics and technology.
“[…] The willingness of the SARDI team to push boundaries was exactly what we were looking for,” says Bennahmias.
1 Mr. Paul Maurin while setting up the “col de Cygne” (gooseneck dispenser) for the watchmaker in the new premises of Audemars Piguet in Le Locle.
2 AUDERMARS PIGUET and SARDI team analyzing the workflows on-site to get an overview.
User-centered strategic design at its best
INNOSPACE anchors on a fundamental redesign of these workbenches. “Part of the process is that we work on-site for many weeks at a time to get to know the workers and the work processes in detail and to analyze them. During this time, our team grows together with the client’s team into one big team that ends up with the same visions and ideas,” Sardi explains. “The question I give my team along the way is: How would an alien design such a workbench? In other words, someone who looks at the processes in a completely unbiased way. It is about completely rethinking a workplace and fundamentally optimizing it on this basis. The user is at the center of all considerations.”
Innovative leap in watchmaking industrial design – ergonomically and technically
The results of this strategic industrial design are innovative, computer-supported workbenches that can flexibly adapt to the physical needs of each worker. They come with 80 different settings and are automatically set up by logging on to a bench, using an RFID chip. A modular drawer system also makes it easy for workers to switch between workbenches. The biggest innovation is perhaps a patented chin and arm support system, the Cervical Saver, which reduces muscle and spinal problems. Apart from these, anti-reflective coatings on the workbench are also easy on the eyes. Clear organization of the work surface also ensures that the right tools are always at hand, and connection and charging options integrated into the workbench make cables obsolete. A quantum leap in watchmaking – as the Red Dot Award jury also found, explaining their decision for the highest award in the competition as follows: “[…] INNOSPACE optimizes workflows and offers outstanding adaptability and ergonomics. The overall impression is balanced and elegant, giving the workbenches a prestigious character befitting a luxury watch manufacturer.”
1 Fully adjustable support for arms during precision work.
2 The modular drawer system
3 Computerized workbenches with anti-reflective coatings
Workbench with a representative character
The design of the workbench aprons with a horizontally running copper band inspired by a link chain (mallion design). It visually connects the individual workstations and conveys a relaxed and harmonious overall image even when the work surfaces are set at different heights. In addition, the design also aims to strengthen the sense of togetherness between workers through the visual link.
The goal was to combine technical requirements and futuristic industrial design, because the beauty of Haute Horlogeriew is that it offers a mix of centuries-old savoir-faire and, at the latest, cutting-edge innovation and technology. François-Henry Bennahmias, who defined INNOSPACE “Forward-thinking”, hopes that this workstation will not only improve working conditions. Instead, concerning young people, help modernize the traditional image of watchmaking and show that these professions are evolving. In this respect, INNOSPACE is also an investment in future generations of watchmakers who might still have reservations about learning this traditional profession.
1: Mallion design: The horizontal copper band visually connects the individual workbench aprons.
2: The Mallion design connects workers and their individual needs
3: The link chain-inspired design appropriately represents the luxury watchmaker in the workbench area as well.
An ergonomic, future-proof workplace that serves as a role model for other industries
“INNOSPACE is a comprehensive system that includes the smallest watchmaking tool as well as the complete working environment. Every detail had to be designed and every problem solved. This includes those that don’t even come into play at present, as the potential future use of cleaning robots. We call this the ‘evolutivity aspects’ of a project,” says Sardi.
INNOSPACE’s user-centered design, adaptability, ergonomic optimization, computerization, and sustainability combine many approaches that can be easily adapted to other industries with similar challenges. For example, the pharmaceutical, medical, electronics, and other manufacturing and assembly sectors.
Enrique Luis Sardi, CEO and Founder of SARDI, with INNOSPACE.
Written by Astrid Ruta
Photo Credits: Patrice Schreyer © SARDI