09/26/2019
 3 minutes

Audemars Piguet: A Family-Run Business with a Penchant for Change

By Annika Murr
18_IG_INSTA_PIGUET_ENG-HEADER_Zeichenfläche 1

Audemars Piguet: A Family-Run Business with a Penchant for Change

Audemars Piguet is famous for creating exceptional mechanical timepieces that are perfectly finished down to the very last screw. It should come as no surprise that this Swiss manufacturer has some 144 years of experience in the watchmaking business. Want to find out more about AP? We’ve gathered all the important facts and figures in celebration of AP Brand Week.

The Audemars Piguet story began in the small Swiss village of Le Brassus in 1875. Nestled in the Vallée de Joux, a young man named Jules-Louis Audemars had just completed his apprenticeship and was ready to start his own business. Audemars quickly found a partner in long-time friend and fellow craftsman Edward-Auguste Piguet. The pair were particularly gifted at building complications, as evidenced by their first pocket watch model, the “Grande Complication.” This watch went on to win awards and quickly earned the young company widespread notoriety.

 

 

Despite (or perhaps due to) their steady growth, the manufacturer has managed to retain much of the original character of their watches over the years. Today, Audemars Piguet strictly limits their production numbers to 40,000 pieces each year, and the brand continues to value its identity as an independent, family-run business. The manufacturer now employs some 1,600 individuals across three locations in Switzerland, and their financial performance is on par with that of other major Swiss brands: Estimates put AP’s 2018 revenue above the 1 billion Swiss franc mark.

 

 

Audemars Piguet has celebrated a number of major success throughout their many years in the business; however, none compare to the development of their most iconic timepiece: the Royal Oak. This model remains the most popular AP watch to date. Sales figures on Chrono24 show that the Royal Oak accounts for 56% of all Audemars Piguet watches sold on the platform, outperforming both the Royal Oak Offshore (35%), and the Millenary (4%). But we aren’t the only ones impressed by the Royal Oak. This legendary watch has been spotted gracing the wrists of numerous prominent athletes and musicians. Tennis star Serena Williams, rapper and record executive Jay-Z, and basketball legend LeBron James are all proud owners of the Royal Oak or Royal Oak Offshore.

 

 

 

No one could have predicted the Royal Oak’s success in the early 1970s. The watch industry was in the throes of the quartz crisis, but desperate times call for innovative measures. Manufacturers were looking for something that would reverse the tides of the industry: an unprecedented model that would inspire watch enthusiasts around the globe. With this monumental task in mind, Audemars Piguet turned to famous watch designer Gérald Genta. They commissioned him to design a stainless steel luxury sports watch. Within 24 hours, Genta had sketched the blueprint for what would become the brand’s biggest hit – on a napkin. At least, that’s how the story goes.

 

 

The resulting design exceeded all of the manufacturer’s expectations. Its octagonal bezel with eight imposing screws resembles a ship’s porthole and has since become the model’s signature feature. As is expected from Audemars Piguet, the utmost degree of finesse and craftsmanship goes into crafting each and every timepiece. Was it an overnight success? Not exactly. After release, the manufacturer spent a while biting their nails while the industry took its time to warm up to the revolutionary idea of a luxury timepiece made of stainless steel, something entirely unheard of up until that point. As we all know, however, the design would ultimately triumph and the Royal Oak would go from its simple beginnings in Le Brassus to a global sensation. Today, the model is particularly beloved in the US, UK, and Germany.

 

You can download and share our infographic here.

Read more

Legendary Watch Brands: Audemars Piguet

Legendary Watches: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Chrono24 Compares: Patek Philippe Nautilus vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak


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About the Author

Annika Murr

When I started as content manager at Chrono24 Magazine, I had no idea what a multi-faceted and fascinating world awaited me. Today, when I admire an outfit, my eyes inevitably gravitate to the wrist.

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