Audemars Piguet

royal oak offshore

Audemars [awe-de-marrPiguet [pee-gay] (AP) is a manufacturer of prestige Swiss watches which compete with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. The roots of the company date back to 1874, when the 23-year-old Jules-Louis Audemars met Edward-Auguste Piguet, then only 21, at Vallée de Joux, in western Switzerland, which is considered to be the cradle of prestige watch-making. Thus Audemars started producing component parts for movements and Piguet got the job of a repasseur, whose job it was to make the final regulation of the timepiece.

In 1875 they founded a firm later known as Audemars, Piguet et Cie, and since 1882, members of the Audemars and Piguet families have always been on the board of directors. Between 1894 and 1899 the company produced about 1,200 timepieces, including some very complex watches. When Audemars and Piguet died, in 1918 and 1919 respectively, the company was already quite famous. As the success of the company’s business was rising its customers became Tiffany & Co, Cartier and Bulgari, who rebranded and sold Audemars Piguet watches under their own house names. Today these watches are only identifiable as Audemars Piguet products by their serial numbers.

Later Audemars Piguet launched several watches like the smallest minute repeater in the world and a jumping second hand (i.e. the second hand jumps from second to second in quanta rather than progressively) pocket watch. In 1925 Audemars Piguet introduced the world’s thinnest pocket watch, at 1.32 millimeters. Only three years later the company created the first skeleton watch (a mechanical watch in which all of the moving parts are visible). At the end of 1920s and the beginning of 1930s the success of Audemars Piguet started dimming. The crash of the stock market as well as the Depression slowed the development of many Swiss companies.

During World War II the manufacturer was able to come back on the market by producing one of its well-known models – an ultra-thin chronograph, the heart of which was Calibre 2003. Strong revenue for Audemars Piguet returned in the forties and fifties. Together with Jaeger-LeCoultre it designed the thinnest automatic movement. The latter included a 21 carat gold rotor placed in the center. Their ‘Royal Oak,’ was produced in 1972 and is considered to have created the market for the stainless steel luxury watch. The Royal Oak was designed by Gerald Genta, whose other designs include a sonnerie, the Gérald Genta Octo Granda Sonnerie Tourbillion , which has four gongs and rings the Westminster Quarters melody at each quarter and on the hour, ‘the same melody rung out by London’s Big Ben,’ and costs $810,200.

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