Easily one of the most venerable watch brands on the market today, Swiss brand Audemars Piguet is one of the few privately owned brands – giving it the ability to regularly push the creative envelope. A “Holy Grail” brand for watch collectors, Audemars Piguet’s pillar collections include the legendary Royal Oak (first designed by the famed Gerald Genta), Royal Oak Offshore, Code 11:59, and Millenary.
In 1875, Jules Louis Audemars (1851–1918) and Edward Auguste Piguet (1853–1919), both from watchmaking families, set up their business in Le Brassus, Switzerland. They started by producing and selling complicated watch movements to Geneva-based companies but soon expanded to producing watches themselves. They assembled a highly specialized workforce with the necessary skills all under one roof.
When industrial machinery appeared, the two men decided to forego large volume production and stick with producing one-off complicated watches. They specialized in chiming mechanisms, chronographs, and astronomical indications, which are still manufactured by Audemars Piguet today. Between 1892, when the first minute repeater wristwatch was sold, and 1965, a total of 550 complicated wristwatches were produced, which are highly sought after by collectors today.
Today, Audemars Piguet employs over 1’450 people worldwide and produces 40’000 watches per year.
When the Quartz crisis hit in the 1970s, Audemars Piguet was one of the few brands that continued to produce complications. They did not content themselves with continuing business as usual but chose to innovate at such a precarious time for the watch industry. Of course, the most noteworthy milestone is the decision to invest in the Royal Oak’s development, which launched in 1972.
The Royal Oak was designed by Gerald Genta, who was tasked with imagining a high-end sporty model for everyday use. The Royal Oak turned the industry on its head with its steel case, octagonal bezel, and “Tapisserie” dial. At the time, stainless steel was an unconventional material in high-end watchmaking. Now nearly 50 years later, it is difficult to imagine that this now infamous watch model was met with shock when it first came out.
Audemars Piguet is a family business that is still owned by the descendants of its founding families, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet.
Audemars Piguet collaborated with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Royal Oak Offshore End of Days’ design in 2003. Since then, various models have been developed in association with F1 racing drivers Montoya, Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello or Jarno Trulli, rapper and producer Jay-Z, and basketball players Shaquille O’Neal and Lebron James, to name a few.
First introduced in 2019, Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet stands for the Manufacture’s genetic code: Challenge, Own, Dare. Just one minute before midnight, 11.59 alludes to the brink of a new day, always staying ahead of the game. A 41mm case that works just as well for men and women, fitting perfectly on any wrist.
The Royal Oak is often considered the first high-end sports watch. Since its introduction in 1972, The Royal Oak continues to evolve with the times, but its essence remains the same. Over the years, we have seen the Royal Oak in a wide range of materials, from platinum to ceramic, as well as gold. Available in various sizes, both for men and women, the Royal Oak is one of the most iconic watches today.
A new interpretation of the Royal Oak, The Royal Oak Offshore, was introduced in 1993. A more robust version, with a case size of 42mm, credited for pioneering large wristwatches. Today it is available in 37 – 41 mm for women and 42-55 mm for men.
The Royal Oak Concept, introduced in 2002, is a high-tech adaptation of the Royal Oak. Audemars Piguet launched the first timepiece in this collection to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the original steel Royal Oak. Each new edition is innovative and avant-garde.
The [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph is a striking reinterpretation of one of their rare chronograph wristwatches from 1943 modernized with the Manufacture’s most advanced technology and dial design.
The Millenary is a bold timepiece for the ladies. It features a unique oval-shaped case in either white gold or rose gold, powered by a mechanical movement.
Haute Joaillerie is an audacious collection of high jewelry masterpieces that disrupt the traditional ideas for gem-set watches.