Audemars Piguet Watch History: Celebrated Pioneer In Complications And Design

Audemars Piguet Watch History: Celebrated Pioneer In Complications And Design 2018-06-12T23:32:23+00:00
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tapisserie Dial Closeup

Royal Oak dial; images courtesy of Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet ranks among the most prestigious luxury watch manufactures in the world.

It’s one of the legendary “Big Three” watch brands, along with fellow Swiss firms Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe.

Famous for pioneering avant-garde complicated watches, Audemars Piguet is best known for its Royal Oak sports watch.

The Royal Oak, rightfully celebrated as a true icon in watchmaking, spearheaded the very concept of the luxury sports watch.

The company also boasts a long history of landmark achievements in astronomical complications, ultra-thin movements, skeletonization, and chiming timepieces.

Over more than 140 years, four generations of the Audemars and Piguet families have continually led the brand to success. Indeed, Audemars Piguet is the very last independent Swiss watch brand that’s still run by the families who founded it. Their singular passion, expertise, innovative spirit, and pride in the watchmaking traditions of Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux remain strong.

Throughout its history, Audemars Piguet has also extended its considerable influence beyond the watchmaking world. For example, the company sponsors a wide variety of contemporary installation artists through its Art Basel partnership and individual commissions.

Other notable Audemars Piguet sponsorships include its forest conservation foundation and sports world partnerships.

If you’re interested in a specific section, you can jump ahead in the article:

Otherwise, you can read on to learn about the history of Audemars Piguet from its beginnings.

Audemars Piguet’s Founding & Early History

Audemars Piguet was first established in 1875 in Le Brassus, a village in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux, north of Geneva.

The Craftsman Heritage Of Vallée de Joux

AP founders Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet both started learning the craft of watchmaking from a young age. Born and raised in Vallée de Joux, they grew up thoroughly immersed in the area’s exceptionally rich horological heritage.

Audemars Piguet Birthplace Vallee de Joux

Vallée de Joux (“Valley of Rocks” in the Swiss-French local dialect) is a high-altitude valley of the Jura Mountains. Most of the valley is located in the Swiss canton of Vaud, but its southwestern end stretches into eastern France. Its susceptibility to the chilly Bise wind and towering elevation (averaging 1000m) result in particularly harsh, frigid winters.  The area has even been dubbed the “Siberia of Switzerland.”

Actually, it’s believed that the unforgiving climate in the Vallée was what originally led its inhabitants to take up watchmaking. The land was farmable during warmer months, but villagers needed a way to make a reliable living in the wintertime.

So, during the long, desolate winters, farming families earned income through trading/selling items produced via various crafting traditions. Metalworking and related professions were viable due to a landscape of soil and rock particularly rich in iron oxides.

Audemars Piguet Pocket Watch Vallee de Joux

Watchmaking was introduced to the area in the late 1600s by Huguenot immigrants, many of whom were skilled craftsmen. By the 19th century, the valley had developed into a major player in the watch industry. Today, it’s recognized as one of the world’s historic cradles of fine mechanical watchmaking.

Audemars & Piguet: A Winning Partnership

Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet were only in their early twenties when they founded Audemars Piguet. Even so, both men already possessed a wealth of experience and relevant skills essential for their new venture. Both came from families with longstanding watchmaking traditions and had worked extensively in the watch industry.

Audemars Piguet Founders Jules Audemars Edward Piguet

Left: Jules Louis Audemars; Right: Edward Auguste Piguet

Audemars and Piguet also worked particularly well together, having known each other since childhood. Adept in different areas of watchmaking, the partners’ skill sets were highly complementary.

Technically-gifted Audemars had a solid background in building complicated watch movements and supplying them to other watch firms. So, at Audemars Piguet, Audemars headed production, supervising product development and dealing with all technical concerns in manufacturing.

Before partnering up with Audemars, Piguet worked as a repassuer, a master watchmaker who performs a watch’s “final regulation.” In this respected, in-demand position within the watch industry, Piguet was responsible for:

  • Carefully inspecting every individual finished movement component
  • Making any adjustments necessary to correct errors or imperfections
  • Assembling the movement into working order, bringing it to “life”

At first, Piguet continued to work as a repassuer within Audemars Piguet. But soon, he found he was even better suited to working the business side, deftly handling sales, marketing and management.

Audemars Piguet Generations Of Family Management

In this way, the two visionaries made a highly-effective team. They would lead the company together successfully for the rest of their lives. Ultimately, the founders’ legacy would be proudly upheld through at least four generations of their respective families.

Furthermore, to this day, the original division of labor established by the founders is still in effect. So, in general, the Audemars family takes responsibility for technical affairs and the Piguets manage finances and other business matters.

Official Launch & First Distinctions

Audemars Piguet considers 1875, the year Audemars and Piguet became business partners, to be its founding date. Yet the partners didn’t officially register their company as Audemars Piguet et Cie (“Audemars Piguet & Co.”) until 1881.

Audemars Piguet Headquarters In 1910

The Audemars Piguet manufacture in 1910

However, right from the time they partnered up, Audemars and Piguet were already making strides in the watch industry. From the beginning, they aimed to establish themselves as leaders in the development of sophisticated complicated watches.

Over the next century, the company would indeed achieve a series of impressive firsts in complicated pocket and wristwatches:

First Wristwatch Minute Repeater Movement

The minute repeater is a watch complication that sounds out the current hours and minutes with chimes.

Audemars Piguet 1892 First Wristwatch Minute RepeaterThis allows the wearer to tell the time without having to look at the watch face.

You can learn more about minute repeaters and other watch complications on our Watch Parts Guide.

Before electric lighting was widely available, the minute repeater made telling time at night much more convenient.

However, even today, minute repeaters and other chiming mechanisms, admired for their sophistication, remain popular among watch enthusiasts.

As with many complications, the first minute repeaters were pocket watches. But in 1882, Louis Brandt, founder of the company now known as Omega, introduced the world’s first wristwatch minute repeater.

And the movement of this historic piece, a thin Lépine style caliber, was built and supplied by Audemars Piguet.

“Universelle” Pocket Watch

Audemars Piguet 1899 Universelle PocketwatchAudemars Piguet was well-known for its “grande complication” pocket watches.

That is, watches built with an extensive number of various complications, often extremely complex ones such as perpetual calendars.

The “Universelle” shown above was created in 1889, the year Audemars Piguet opened a branch in Geneva.

The double-sided pocket watch was cased in 18-carat pink gold and featured:

  • Alarm
  • Split-second chronograph
  • Jumping seconds
  • Deadbeat seconds
  • Grande strike
  • Minute repeater
  • Perpetual calendar

It ranked among the most ambitious timepieces created during the founders’ lifetimes.

Carrying On The Family Legacy With A String Of World Firsts

Audemars Piguet 1921 Smallest Repeater

Smallest repeater movement (15.8mm diameter)

Audemars Piguet would continue to play a major role in watchmaking history with avant-garde, record-breaking timepieces.

By 1907, as many as 70 highly-experienced watch experts were working in the company’s new state-of-the-art manufacture.

Though Audemars and Piguet passed away by 1920, their sons, Paul-Louis Audemars and Paul-Edward Piguet, were well-prepared for company leadership.

Under them, and later, their own children, Audemars Piguet remained at the forefront of innovation in a variety of watchmaking technologies:

  • 1921 – smallest repeater movement, first jumping hours wristwatch
  • 1938 – thinnest wristwatch (1.64mm thick) & first skeletonized AP pocket watch
  • 1967 – thinnest (1.45mm) automatic wristwatch with central rotor and perpetual calendar
  • 1987 – first ultra-thin automatic tourbillon wristwatch (5.5mm)

What Is Audemars Piguet’s Company Motto?

Audemars Piguet’s famous slogan, “To break the rules, you must first master them” fits the brand to a tee, as we’ll see.

After decades upon decades of proving its technical prowess, Audemars Piguet would indeed dramatically break the rules it had so brilliantly mastered. Furthermore, from the 1970s on, the brand has continued to push boundaries with technical feats, unorthodox materials, and “disruptive” designs.

Famous Watch Collections

Audemars Piguet currently offers a wide range of different watch types and styles through its numerous standard collections. But to best understand the brand’s unique personality, we’ll focus on four collections that solidly establish AP as an industry trailblazer:

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

The Royal Oak is, hands down, Audemars Piguet’s most famous offering. Introduced at 1972 Baselworld fair, it was the world’s very first luxury sports watch.

With exceptional water and shock resistance, the Royal Oak was definitely durable enough to suit active/outdoorsy watch fans. However, it was the highly unusual construction and appearance of the watch that would revolutionize the entire industry.

Audemars Piguet Original 1972 Royal Oak

Inspired by traditional brass diving helmets, the original Royal Oak’s design daringly defied many firmly-established conventions in luxury watchmaking:

A Watch Designed In A Day

Watch design involves many complex technical and aesthetic considerations, and the process often requires a substantial amount of time.

Yet the Royal Oak, one of the most successful watches in history, was designed in less than 24 hours!

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Openworked Sketch

Concept sketch for the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked

The riveting story behind the Royal Oak began in 1970. The previous year (Christmas 1969) Japanese watch firm Seiko had unveiled the Astron, the world’s first quartz wristwatch. This momentous event marked the beginning of the “quartz crisis.” During this period, the unprecedented precision and low cost of quartz watches from Japan drove many Swiss watchmakers to extinction.

Suddenly, centuries of rich tradition and longstanding expertise in mechanical movements didn’t help companies remain competitive in the watch industry. So, even the most prestigious brands, like Audemars Piguet, desperately needed to either embrace quartz or reignite interest in mechanical watches to stay afloat.

With this in mind, Georges Golay, Audemars Piguet’s managing director at the time, took stock of the company’s watch collections. Golay was deeply dissatisfied, feeling that there were no standout models that could help the company prosper despite the crisis. He decided that this needed to change immediately.

So, that afternoon, Golay called up Gérald Genta, one of the watch industry’s most talented designers. Genta had already masterminded several breakout luxury watches, including the Omega Constellation and Patek Philippe’s Golden Ellipse. Golay commissioned Genta to create a new design – but it had to be ready by the next morning!

Tritonia Dive Suit For Exploring Lusitania

Genta’s main inspiration for the Royal Oak design: vintage diving helmets

Genta didn’t disappoint. As promised, he presented Audemars Piguet with his Royal Oak design the very next morning. Though Jacques-Louis Audemars (Jules Audemars’s grandson) was “aghast” at the unorthodox design, the remaining management approved it for production.

A Watch Made From Steel

The Royal Oak was conceived to be made from stainless steel. This was extremely risky back then, as luxury watchmakers exclusively used precious metals, considering steel unfit for prestigious timepieces.

High-end watchmakers like AP and Patek Philippe would occasionally receive special orders for steel watches, but these were quite rare. However, noting a burgeoning interest in steel from Italian clients, Audemars Piguet was set on creating a steel watch.

Ironically, the first prototypes of the Royal Oak were made from white gold rather than steel. Genta’s design was so incredibly complex that building it in steel would prove prohibitively expensive in the beginning.

Steel Bars In Construction

Steel is much more rigid and less malleable than gold, requiring a separate set of metalworking tools, techniques, and machinery. Because it was so uncommon to use steel in luxury watchmaking, Audemars Piguet didn’t initially own the proper equipment.

Integrated Construction

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Integrated Steel BraceletThe Royal Oak follows a “monobloc” design, meaning that its case is integrated right into the bracelet strap.

This integrated construction results in a rock-solid, extremely durable watch that enchants the eye with a deceptive air of simplicity.

Yet, as we know, Genta’s exquisite design was anything but simple!

Along with other innovative sports watches like Patek Philippe’s Nautilus (also designed by Genta), the Royal Oak popularized the integrated strap.

Over time, the feature became a favored staple in sports watch design, as it is today.

Octagonal Bezel

Among the most immediately-striking features of the Royal Oak was its eight-sided bezel.

HMS Royal Oak BattleshipThis, too, went against prevailing tastes, as most luxury watches of the time sported traditional round cases.

But this unorthodox shape was clearly an essential element of Genta’s vision of the Royal Oak from its conception.

It’s believed he chose its name as a reference to a series of eight vessels from the British Royal Navy.

Most of the Royal Oak ships were battleships, like the one shown at left, though one was a prison barge.

These ships were named in honor of the actual oak tree that Charles II used as a refuge after his 1651 defeat in the Battle of Worcester.

“Disruptive” Detailing

The Royal Oak’s original design brazenly displayed features that were usually subtly hidden in luxury watch designs. For example, the screw heads and water resistance gasket, incorporated into the watch’s overall look, were clearly visible.

Aside from adding to the Royal Oak’s hard-hitting, futuristic sportiness, these details also served to visually indicate its water-resistant durability.

“Jumbo” Size

The original Royal Oak’s nickname of “Jumbo” may seem strange, considering that even larger men’s watches are available today.  Yet its 39mm diameter size was thought of as extremely large at the time of its release.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Profile View

The Royal Oak has always been built thin, making it easy to wear despite its larger size

Many watch enthusiasts were initially put off by the Royal Oak’s “oversized” dimensions. However, the watch’s size became one of its best-loved features, later influencing major trends towards bigger watches.

“Extravagant” Price Tag

The Royal Oak was priced at 3300 Swiss Francs, more expensive than most high-end gold dress watches of the time. In contrast, Rolex’s bestselling steel sports watch, the Submariner, could be purchased for a tenth of the price!

However, the pricing wasn’t actually all that unreasonable. As mentioned before, it can be very expensive to create intricate designs in steel.  Another contributing factor to the Royal Oak’s hefty price tag was its movement, the celebrated ultra-thin Calibre 2121.

The Calibre 2121 was an ambitious project originally developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet, with additional funding from Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe. It made history in 1967 as the thinnest full-rotor automatic movement in the world.

Audemars Piguet Calibre 3120 Closeup Grande Tapisserie

Left: Today the Royal Oak is powered by the sophisticated Manufacture Calibre 3120; Right: Dial closeup

Furthermore, one of the revolutionary aspects of the Royal Oak is its exquisite finishing and detailing. It showed the world that steel, refined with as much care and respect as gold, can look just as breathtaking. Even the dial is elevated beyond being a mere backdrop for the watch face with its gorgeous engine-turned tapisserie pattern!


The above video from Audemars Piguet shows how the famous tapisserie dials are engraved.

Initial Skepticism Gives Way To Grand Success

When Audemars Piguet introduced the Royal Oak prototype at Baselworld in 1972, many onlookers sneered. Skeptics speculated that releasing such an unconventional watch would surely lead to bankruptcy, even for such a highly-esteemed brand.

Last Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza PahlaviThe watch industry was indeed slow to recognize the Royal Oak’s singular charm.

It took Audemars Piguet nearly three years to sell its first 1000-piece production run.

Fittingly, the Royal Oak had a royal first buyer—Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.

The Shah, an avid collector of classic cars and luxury goods, was captivated by the white gold Royal Oak prototype.

Once the market finally caught on and followed the Shah’s lead, the Royal Oak’s success grew to truly monumental proportions. Its historical impact in birthing the entire luxury sports watch industry cannot be overstated.

Gérald Genta, who had designed so many successful watches in his illustrious career, even declared the Royal Oak his “masterpiece!”

Modern Selection

Though the Royal Oak built its fame on its steel construction and elegant design, today’s style choices are virtually limitless:

  • Sizes.  The Royal Oak is now made in a wider range of diameters, from 33mm for ladies’ models to 44mm for models designed to accommodate a large number of complication modules.
  • Materials. Yellow, rose, white gold and platinum are offered in addition to steel, as well as various combinations of metals. High-grade ceramics paired with titanium are another sleek alternative. Even models with leather straps instead of the iconic steel bracelet are now available.
  • Complications & Movements. Over the years, Audemars Piguet has developed a wide range of Royal Oak models equipped with sophisticated complications. These include chronographs, tourbillons, dual time indicators, perpetual calendars and grande complications. Models with quartz movements are available as well as gorgeous mechanical openwork movements.
  • Decorations & Finishing. Some Royal Oak models depart from the original’s understated purity with dazzling ornamentation. Examples include diamond-studded bezels, faces, and bracelets, as well as the uniquely opulent “Frosted Gold” finishing.
Audemars Piguet Various Watch Models

Left: RO Double Balance Openworked; Center: RO Perpetual Calendar; Right: Frosted Gold finish

Offshore Chronograph

The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph was launched in 1993 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Royal Oak. Audemars Piguet tasked Emmanuel Gueit, a talented junior watch designer, with creating a Royal Oak for a new generation. Gueit, only 22 at the time, seemed the perfect candidate to help AP draw in younger watch enthusiasts.

Audemars Piguet Offshore Concept Drawings

Concept drawings for the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph

However, just as had happened for the Royal Oak, Gueit’s concept for the Offshore was initially met with extreme skepticism.

The Offshore’s design took several aspects of the original Royal Oak to new extremes:

Chronograph Function

Just as luxury sports watches were nonexistent before the Royal Oak, Gueit’s luxurious, sporty Offshore chronograph was unprecedented in 1993.  To learn more about the invention and development of chronographs, you can visit our comprehensive Chronograph Guide.

Even Larger

Designed to be offered in 42mm sizes and beyond, the Offshore dwarfed its “Jumbo” predecessor, earning the nickname “the Beast.” Furthermore, it was designed as a very thick, substantial watch. Back then, Audemars Piguet couldn’t even find a movement that would sit snugly in a huge 42mm diameter case.

Instead, the company cleverly placed a smaller movement into an anti-magnetic ring to achieve the proper fit. Even better, the bonus anti-magnetic feature became an essential component of the Offshore’s appeal!

Rough-Around-The-Edges Detailing

The Offshore’s overall look is bolder, more rugged, and less sleek than the Royal Oak.  For example, it sports a bigger visible gasket beneath the bezel and color-contrasted screws and pushpieces.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Profile

How Was The Offshore Received?

Echoing the public’s chilly initial response to the Royal Oak, the Offshore wasn’t immediately embraced by watch fans. Once again, Audemars Piguet was taunted with gloomy predictions for its future. Even Gérald Genta himself stormed the 1993 Baselworld booth where the Offshore debuted and declared his Royal Oak “completely destroyed!”

However, Gueit’s instincts regarding the younger watch crowd turned out to be keenly accurate. The Offshore became a colossal hit among celebrities, from big-name athletes to hip-hop artists to Hollywood stars. These endorsements catapulted the venerable, old-school manufacture squarely into the thick of current pop culture, creating countless new AP fans!

Audemars Piguet Various Offshore Models

Left: Offshore LeBron James Edition; Center: Offshore Grande Complications; Right: Offshore Diver

Just like the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet has released the Offshore with a wide selection of materials, complications, and styles. Particularly famous are the line’s many celebrity limited edition models, such as the dazzling LeBron James Offshore shown above.

Another popular offering is the Offshore Diver, which comes in a variety of classic colors or neon brights. The watch is waterproof to a staggering 300m and includes a second crown at 10 o’ clock. This second crown, used for setting the adjustable inner ring, screws in tightly to prevent accidental turns during diving.

Royal Oak Concept

The Royal Oak Concept was released in 2002, to honor the Royal Oak’s 30th anniversary. The Concept, described as an “audacious” lab watch, is strikingly futuristic in style and function.

Lightness & Features

Though the watch appears weighty at first glance, it’s actually relatively light, due to its unique case and movement design. The case is built from Alacrite 602, an exceptionally hard and lightweight cobalt “superalloy” normally confined to aerospace applications.

Audemars Piguet Concept Dial Flying Tourbillon GMT

Left: Dial similar to that of the original Concept; Right: Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT side view

But perhaps the Concept’s central draw was its extraordinarily beautiful manual-wound openwork movement, attractively framed by a titanium bezel. The watch was also loaded with useful features, including a tourbillon with 50G shock resistance and a power reserve indicator. The Concept even introduced a new feature for manual-wound watches, the Dynamograph, which helpfully displays mainspring tension.

Ideal Vehicle For Tech Breakthroughs

Though the highly-experimental Concept was originally conceived as a limited edition, Audemars Piguet later expanded it into a standard collection. Today, the line houses some of the company’s most cutting-edge designs, mechanisms, and limited editions.

For example, the Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie represents a powerful breakthrough in wristwatch repeater technology. Chiming watches, in general, are recognized as one of the most challenging areas of haute horlogerie to master. Capturing a clear, rich, resonant sound is exceeding difficult, especially in wristwatches, due to their small size.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie

Achieving pocket-watch-quality chiming in a wristwatch is just as dependent on human artistry as on the latest technologies. This is because optimizing a repeater’s gongs according to mathematical algorithms can only create mechanically “perfect” sound and function. However, such chiming will strike the human ear as unnervingly artificial; it’s hand-tuning that imbues the sound with appealing warmth.

Audemars Piguet developed patented manufacturing processes for the Concept Supersonnerie that:

  • improve the initial state of repeater gongs, allowing the watchmaker to tune them more efficiently
  • construct a case that amplifies sound optimally via a miniature copper soundboard
  • minimize noise from the regulator (the component that controls chime tempo)


You can hear the Supersonnerie’s exquisite chiming and see the watch being built in the official Audemars Piguet video above.

Millenary

The bold Millenary line of asymmetric-dial elliptical watches is yet another tour de force in creative watch design from Audemars Piguet. Launched in 1995, the collection’s name was chosen to celebrate the upcoming turn of the millennium.

Audemars Piguet Mens Millenary 47mm

Millenary watches are characterized by a unique dial, placed off-center to reveal a skeletonized calibre that’s beautifully crafted and finished. This asymmetric design is a clever and aesthetically-pleasing way to display a skeletonized movement without sacrificing the dial’s readability.

Skeletonization & Wearability

Despite their large size, Millenary watches are known to be quite comfortable and wearable due to their relatively lightweight movements. As we’ve seen, skeletonized or openwork movements are one of Audemars Piguet’s highly-esteemed technical specialties. And designing a skeletonized watch isn’t a simple matter of changing the case to show the movement.

Audemars Piguet Openwork Movement

To make the watch’s inner workings clearly visible, the movement itself must be built in a completely different way. In skeletonization, much of a normal movement’s architecture must be carved away while still preserving proper function and structural integrity. This careful art of “hollowing-out” results in a movement that’s not only lovely to behold but also pleasingly lightweight.

A Watch For Both Men & Women

The public response to the daring Millenary was initially apprehensive, just as with the Royal Oak line and its offshoots. But today, the line is one of Audemars Piguet’s most famous and iconic standard offerings.

Recently, the brand has made increasing efforts to welcome female watch fans with newly-designed Millenary models and ad campaigns. Many new designs targeted towards women include fancy ornamentation, such as diamond-studded bezels, gem cabochon crowns, and opal dials.

Audemars Piguet Fancy Millenary Watches

However, Audemars Piguet still offers Millenary designs suited to more masculine tastes and the collection also remains popular among men.

Sponsorships & Partnerships

In addition to its prodigious reputation in the watchmaking world, Audemars Piguet has long-established ties in the fields of:

Contemporary Art Commissions & Events

In 2013, Audemars Piguet partnered up with the premier international contemporary art fair, Art Basel, to promote outstanding talent in art. The brand participates every year in spectacular Art Basel shows held in Switzerland (Basel), China (Hong Kong), and USA (Miami).

In particular, Audemars Piguet has commissioned a diverse range of contemporary artists to interpret, reimagine, and creatively express unique qualities of its birthplace and heritage. The brand’s collaborations with these promising artists yield rich rewards, for both artist and patron.

Sponsored artists gain support, meaningful projects, and a far-reaching platform enabling powerful connections with local and global art communities. Audemars Piguet, in turn, publicly celebrates its history in exciting new ways, experiencing its roots through diverse viewpoints. For example:

Kolkoz’s “Curiosity” (Art Basel Miami 2013)

Kolkoz is a two-man collaboration between French artists Samuel Boutruche and Benjamin Moreau. The artists primarily examine how virtual worlds and reality intersect, using a variety of artistic techniques. These range from traditional methods, such as drawing, to more avant-garde outlets like performance art and public interventions.

Art Basel Miami 2013 Kolkoz Curiosity

For the 2013 Art Basel in Miami Beach, Kolkoz created a giant inflatable sculpture of a snow-covered Swiss chalet. The log-cabin-style chalet floated atop a faux ice sheet before Miami’s Marine Stadium — a dramatic visual kickoff for Art Basel!

Alexandre Joly’s “Wild Constellations” (Art Basel Hong Kong 2015)

Alexandre Joly, an installation artist based in Geneva, masterminds extraordinary full-body experiences through unique landscapes of sounds, visuals, and textures.

For “Wild Constellations,” Joly employed a host of deeply evocative sound effects, recorded at the Audemars Piguet manufacture and the surrounding wilderness of Vallée de Joux.

Art Basel 2015 Alexandre Joly Wild Constellations

Using music sequencing software, Joly artfully wove together the natural and mechanical, from whistling winds to ticking timepieces. At Art Basel, Joly’s sonic tapestry emanated from an “eco wall” made of live greenery.

Cheng Ran’s “Circadian Rhythm” (Art Basel Hong Kong 2017)

Young Mongolian-born multimedia artist Cheng Ran references an impressive range of Chinese and Western influences in his boundary-defying work. Through his films and videos, he daringly melds history and myth to create fresh, nuanced narratives.

Art Basel 2017 Cheng Ran Circadian Rhythm

Ran’s “Circadian Rhythm” unveils the Jura Mountains’ beating heart through arresting soundscapes and visuals of its streams and forests. Compelling interplays of light/dark, movement/stillness, and positive/negative space lend an otherworldly ambiance to Audemars Piguet’s beloved home. You can watch the full film on the Cultured Mag website.

Sports World Sponsorships

Audemars Piguet proudly sponsors extraordinary athletes and events in tennis, golfing, and horse racing.

Serena Williams

One of Audemars Piguet’s most famous brand ambassadors is tennis star Serena Williams. Williams holds a staggering number of tennis tournament wins and championships.

Audemars Piguet Brand Ambassador Serena Williams

These include 39 total Grand Slam titles, 5 singles division Women’s Tennis Association Tour Championships, and 4 Olympic gold medals. With 23 Grand Slam singles titles, she holds the record for most Grand Slam wins for any tennis player since 1968!

Golfing “Dream Team”

The top golfers that comprise Audemars Piguet’s “Dream Team” range from up-and-coming to highly-experienced and hail from countries all over the globe, including:

  • Emiliano Grillo (Argentina)
  • Lee Westwood (England)
  • Vijay Singh (Fiji)
  • Darren Clarke (Ireland)
  • Branden Grace (South Africa)
  • Miguel Angel Jiménez (Spain)
  • Henrik Stenson (Sweden)

Audemars Piguet regularly hosts its own exclusive tournaments, during which its Golf Ambassadors play selected golf courses around the world.

Audemars Piguet 2014 Golf Invitational

Each tournament series ends with a spectacular “Golf Invitational” where most of the Dream Team gathers to meet and greet with guests.

QEII Cup Race

Since 1999, Audemars Piguet has served as the title sponsor for the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Cup Race.

Audemars Piguet Sponsors QEII Cup Race

This international Thoroughbred horse race, held in Hong Kong every April, runs 2000 meters.

Caring For The Environment

Established in 1992 by Jacques-Louis Audemars, the Audemars Piguet Foundation passionately supports conservation of forests and other natural habitats. It also provides generous funding for biodiversity initiatives and programs that aim to help preserve important cultural traditions.

Today, under chairwoman Jasmine Audemars, the Foundation works in concert with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN is an organization of nearly 1000 influential constituents, both governmental and non-governmental, who all work extensively in conservation. Some of the Foundation’s past projects include:

Replanting Rosemary In The Himalayas

The NGO “Humana People to People” devised a program to combat rural depopulation in Nainital, India (located in the Himalayas). This major replanting project restored 25,000 trees and shrubs, reviving the terraces and springs essential to local agriculture.

Audemars Piguet Funds Himalayas Rosemary Replanting Project

Rosemary plants, in particular, were provided to help boost farming family incomes, as such herbs were sought-after in surrounding cities. Farmers were also invited to helpful workshops on efficient water usage and traditional agricultural methods in the Audemars Piguet-funded program.

Saving Kogi Lands In Colombia

Funding from Audemars Piguet aids the NGO “Tchendukua” in helping the Kogi people of Colombia return to their ancestral homelands in the Sierra Nevada.

Audemars Piguet Funds Colombian Kogi Land Restoration

Tchendukua also works to restore the rich biodiversity of Kogi lands, which suffer from overfarming and desertification from chemical warfare.

Mangrove Restoration In Senegal

Mangrove forests, diverse ecosystems in their own right, play a pivotal role in supporting fish populations. Destruction of mangroves obliterates many fish habitats, harming the environment and threatening livelihoods dependent on local fishing industries.

Audemars Piguet Funds Senegal Mangrove Restoration

Fishermen and fish sellers in the Balantacounda province of Senegal have indeed expressed grave concern over shrinking mangrove forests. In response, the Audemars Piguet Foundation has funded a major mangrove restoration project for the Casamance River.

For More On Audemars Piguet

We hope you enjoyed our guide to Audemars Piguet’s history, major watch collections, and partnerships.

To learn more about the brand’s current watch selection, company history, and innovative legacy, visit its official website.

You can also browse more brand histories, useful watch guides, and in-depth model reviews on the Bespoke Unit Watch Homepage.

Audemars Piguet Watches
Reviewed by Paul Anthony, on .
"An impressive history of daring technical and design innovations. Audemars Piguet has proven itself time and time again as a true game changer in the luxury watch industry."
Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★