Any discussion about high-quality automatic timepieces will inevitably circle round to Audemars Piguet. Perhaps best known for their Royal Oak models, and with a large following among the elite, the Swiss watchmaker has a rich history and heritage.
Audemars Piguet History
Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet created the brand in 1875 and it has remained in their families since its inception.
While both came from watchmaking families, Audemars settled in as the design and watchmaking expert, while Piguet focused on growing and developing the business.
Within a matter of years, the pair was producing chronograph pocket watches with perpetual minute repeaters and shortly thereafter released the award-winning Grande Complication.
The brand also released the world’s first skeleton watch in 1934.
From being on the forefront of wristwatch development through crafting some of the thinnest wrist watches available, and consistently blowing people away with the craftsmanship and abilities of their timepieces, Audemars Piguet built a legend.
What Makes Audemars Piguet Watches Distinct
With devotees of the brand ranging from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian, and John Mayer, it’s easy to see that Audemars Piguet attracts a wide range of personalities—all of whom are known for their passion and style.
It’s really what happens on the inside that makes Audemars Piguet unique. To say their timepieces are accurate is an understatement.
Each one is comprised of hundreds of individual components and is accurate within one-fifth of a second.
Their perpetual calendar complications alone, for example, are comprised of 374 distinct pieces and work in 48-month cycles, meaning no adjustments need to be made to the pieces for roughly 100 years; until leap years fall out of line.
Their moon phase timepieces are similar in this respect; true mechanical wonders which monitor waxing and waning for more than 100 years without adjustments.
Their Calibre 2120/2808 became the first mechanical watch movement that can indicate sunrise and sunset.
This is a bit more challenging with mechanical timepieces as the length of a day varies based on longitude and latitude as well as time of year.
The brand also creates chiming minute repeaters, with more than 500 pieces per complication. Each one is manually tuned before leaving the factory.
Naturally, with such dedication to quality, pieces produced by the brand can be passed down for generations.
They also hold their value well, with many vintage pieces still commanding what other brands might only dream of when purchased from a jeweler new.
In terms of design, the brand leverages uncommon materials and intentionally sets itself apart with features that make their pieces easily distinguished from others.
For example, the Royal Oak’s unique octagonal bezel with corresponding screws in a “tapisserie” pattern gives their timepieces instant recognition.
Popular Audemars Piguet Watches and Pricing
Entry points for most Audemars Piguet pieces start at around $20,000, though many climb well above $200,000, dependent on the complications and finishing, of course.
Royal Oak: The Royal Oak undeniably gets the most press for the brand. It emerged just as quartz models were dominating the market.
During this phase, many Swiss watchmakers either caved and went for quartz too or pushed their automatic timepieces to new limits.
Many who stuck by their automatic movements did not make it through the quartz crisis, but Audemars Piguet took a unique approach.
Instead of clinging to relics, the company developed something that was, at the time, completely unheard of: a sport luxury wristwatch in steel.
Royal Oak Offshore: The Royal Oak was adored so much that the company had it tastefully redesigned in the 1990s and released the slightly larger and more robust version under the name Royal Oak Offshore.
Royal Oak Concept: The Royal Oak Concept takes modernization a step further. While it still features the octagonal shape, its edges are smoother and sleeker. It also has no dial—marks upon the bezel are used for telling time.
If it’s possible to describe a luxury timepiece as “tastefully offbeat,” the Millenary is it. The Millenary features an oval case and sets the dial off to one side, giving full view of many of the timepiece’s carefully-crafted components which might otherwise be hidden. The numerals on most also appear as if stretched, perhaps befitting of a trip to Wonderland, and with varying finishes, it’s easy to find one that feels as if custom-made.
Named for the founder, the Jules Audemars collection is naturally the most classic offering from the brand. Each piece is flawlessly finished and elegant, ideal for pairing with a suit or tux.
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