History of Audemars Piguet (AP) Watch Company
Today, Audemars Piguet is a revered luxury watch brand. Known as AP by mainstream media, it is considered one of the Holy Trinity watch brands, along with Vacheron Constantin and Patek Phillipe. The intention of this article is to reveal some of the past successes of this fantastic watch brand.
Early History of Audemars Piguet & Cie
Throughout history, humans have strived to excel and acquired the means to fulfill their ambitions. In 1875 in the Joux Valley of the Swiss Jura Mountains, two young men fascinated by mechanics, Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet, pooled their respective talents to design complication watches. Soon, the recognition achieved by their creations led them to formalise their partnership. On December 17th, 1881,the two brilliant watchmakers sealed the future of their joint venture when they signed corporate contract number 6399. Their prolific association led to the founding of the watchmaking firm that took their names - Audemars Piguet & Cie - in Le Brassus, Switzerland.
From the following year, they established their style and consolidated the valley's reputation for complication watches. Developing an impressive synergy, they produced chronographs and watches equipped with complicated mechanisms, that could manually or automatically be made to ring the hour, and whose dials perpetually displayed the date, month, and even phase of the moon (the calendar information was displayed by a mechanism that did not need to be reset). Cherished by the elite classes for its sensational formations, the company, which is unusual in that it still remains in the hands of its founding family today, specalised in wristwatches. Visionary in all things, in the 1930s, it launched timepieces with very complicated movements whose size, uncommon at the time, made them memorable.
1970s and Onwards - Battling the Quartz Crisis - The Royal Oak
In 1972, Audemars Piguet (AP) revitalised its partnership, reconciling form and function with the Royal Oak (designed by Gerald Genta), a steel sports watch said to be the most expensive on the market, equipped with a mechanical movement with a twenty-one carat gold rotor. At a time when quartz watches were revolutionising the sector, leading to an unprecedented crisis, Audemars Piguet played the luxury and complication card.
The year 1986 brought the launch of the first ultra-flat automatic tourbillon wristwatch, followed by the Dual Time in 1989 and the incomparable Star Wheel in 1991. A year later, one of the firm's latest models, the automatic Triple Complication, provided dazzling proof that traditional luxury watchmaking had survived the slings and arrows of time.
Audemars Piguet Today - a Modern Luxury Watch Brand
In 2000, Audemars Piguet celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary with the Jules Audemars Dynamograph, produced in a skeleton version and with extreme materials such as titanium and tantalum. 7 years later, the brand was again making waves with its co-sponsorship of the Alinghi yachting team, two-time winner of the legendary America's Cup. To celebrate these victories, AP presented a masterpiece at the Geneva Fair: the Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Team with a forged carbon case (each watch uses almost 123 km of carbon fibre). Today, the Royal Oak collection forms a key part of the manufacturer's market share, but the firm refuses to neglect its complication skills.
In 2009, it again proved its talent with the January launch of the Jules Audemars, a timepiece with a high-efficiency escapement, specially developed in the company's Le Brassus luxury watchmaking workshops. The master of timekeeping is still a fully paid member of the winners' club.
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