Lausanne’s Museum of Design and Applied Arts (MUDAC) takes a fresh look at time and design with a selection of timekeepers that defy the conventions of timekeeping.

When it comes to watch exhibitions we are rather spoiled here in Switzerland. There is the annual Baselworld Fair and the Grand Prix de la Haute Horlogerie Exhibition, not to mention the numerous museums between La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, Geneva and Zurich, as well as a myriad of exhibitions held by the top brands in their boutiques on a regular basis. In fact, there are enough watches on view to keep even the most avid watch lover busy for weeks on end. So when Lausanne’s Museum of Design and Applied Arts (MUDAC) decided to put on its own horological exhibition, it was up against some stiff competition.

As the only design museum in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, the MUDAC decided to take a completely different look at the world of time by presenting the unique ways in which watchmakers, artists and designers have measured time over the years.

Entitled Telling Time, this new exhibition unites over 150 intriguing timekeepers from all over Europe that defy the conventions of telling time. From the 17th century to the present day, each object not only gives the time, but invites visitors to reflect on time itself. “We wanted to offer a complete discussion on time. It is not just about time, but about how time is fragmented,” shared Fabienne Xavière Sturm, Honory Curator of the Museum of Watchmaking and Enamelware in Geneva and Co-Curator of the exhibition, along with Chantal Prod’Hom, Director of the MUDAC.



Mark Formanek, Standard Time (2007)


Each piece in the exhibition redefines the measurement of time. Marti Guixé presents a clock that indicates mealtimes by emitting smells–cappuccino for breakfast, cooking vegetables for lunch and a simmering tomato sauce for dinner; Gianni Motti’s digital clock is a countdown to when the sun is expected to explode in five billion years from now; and Mark Formanek presents a 24-hour video of 70 workers, who manually change the time using planks of wood to name just a few of the fascinating contemporary clocks on display.

On the historical side, visitors can discover beautiful pocket watches such as a Vacheron Constantin piece from 1930 that indicates the time using the arms of a Chinese figure, a watch from Seiko from 1982 which doubles up as a radio and television, and a large selection of timepieces from the last decade which have sought to reinvent the traditional round wristwatch with its hour and minute hands.

Telling Time Differently

Vacheron Constantin, “Bras en l’air” pocket watch (1930)

A selection of connected watches are also on display, but as it is impossible to keep them charged, they seem rather lost in this rich and engaging exhibition on time.

The exhibition runs until September 27th 2015 and is a must for both lovers of watchmaking and contemporary design. Many of the timepieces are also interactive, such as a digital clock that only works by pulling a cord, a tactile clock of floating stars that displays the time when touched, and a variety of cuckoo clocks , making the Telling Time exhibition a great day out for children too.

Telling Time Differently


Telling Time / Eloge de l’heure, Place de la Cathédrale 6, CH-1005 Lausanne —

The exhibition was sponsored by Vacheron Constantin, La Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and the Canton de Vaud.