Audemars Piguet Swiss High-End Luxury Watches Reviews-Guide
Audemars Piguet: Some History
Audemars Piguet is a relatively young company. Established in 1875, it's almost 150 years younger than, for example, Blancpain.
Yet during its 134 years of existence Audemars Piguet distinguished itself as one of the few innovators who develop, create and combine new mechanisms, calibres and complications – deservedly putting the AP brand on the forefront of contemporary mechanical watchmaking. Audemars Piguet watches include all conceivable complications, in many variations, and demonstrate the full scope of latest technological achievements in horology.
Despite being young, the company has an important aspect in common with the competition: economic resilience. When times get tough, high-end luxury watches industry slows down, sometimes slipping into hibernation; when economy prospers, the industry booms.
Interestingly, high-end Swiss watchmakers always knew (marketing savoire-fair?) how to exploit temporary prosperity, making growth leaps when possible, securing brand continuation when the market shrinks. The entire industry serves as a clockwork indicating financial downturns – becoming a living allegory of a watch. Audemars Piguet is an exemplar mechanism in this allegory, as its rich history clearly demonstrates.
Audemars Piguet Design
Most of the brand's watches have been developed in the 20th century – and they manifest unmistakable modern character. The majority of timepieces currently in production include the distinct octagonal bezel, which emphasizes sports, travel and lifestyle intensity of the last century over the more relaxed and traditional way of life of the century before.
As a result, most pieces can be easily categorized as either strictly traditional or ultra-modern; the company even continues the art of pocket watchmaking to underscore the difference.
This distinction contributes to overall clarity of conception, unifying Audemars Piguet collections into a harmonious whole of exceptional aesthetic force and coherence. The popularity the brand enjoys in the 21st century is a direct consequence.
Audemars Piguet official website follows a traditional design of page titles displayed on the top of the screen, all linking to additional media (the only sensible way to accommodate the amount of offered textual, visual, and video information).
The website includes several video clips that elucidate the various stages of watchmaking and some historical landmarks, and give a guided tour to the museum.
I especially loved the interactive timeliness that open windows with photos and expounding text: one in history section, and another in customer service section (unless I missed something).
A truly remarkable subsection lists movements and calibres – the inner mechanisms and workings of watches – with close-up photographs and full specification. Overall, the official website requires several visits to absorb all of the offered information.
Audemars Piguet Collections
Audemars Piguet divide their collections into men's and ladies, the latter models essentially repeating (with alterations) the former, except one dedicated feminine line. Three chief divisions include the Prestige Sports, the Classics, and the Contemporary. The latter includes only one model – a clear sign of an evolving manufacture, which will undoubtedly expand in the future. Let's examine the main collections currently in production.
Audemars Piguet's most diverse sports collection that includes a wide range of timepieces, from the most basic to the most complex. The attached “prestige” description conveys the breadth of Royal Oak's appeal: the universal hours and minutes model is simultaneously a sports, a casual and a dressy watch. In other words, Royal Oak collection transcends its intended target niche.
As the octagonal bezel became more popular and recognizable – less eccentric – it also become more acceptable in less extreme settings: business meetings, in the city, as a travel and even a casual watch. This is a notable case of a product expanding its initial market pie, carving out larger slices in the process.
Royal Oak Offshore (Men's and Ladies')
A more aggressive variation of Royal Oak, it takes further steps towards utility and function on the one hand, and expressed luxury on the other. Resulting timepieces incorporate ostensible yellow or pink gold and titanium, while chronographs present an independent line of watches dedicated to Audemars Piguet sponsorships and partnerships: Rubens Barrichello, Shaquille O'Neal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Allinghi Team (featuring a carbon case). All Royal Oak Offshore watches keep the octagonal bezel.
Jules Audemars (Men and Women)
The classic counterpart of Royal Oak, Jules Audemars is a wide-range collection in terms of technology, and a pure, minimalistic one in terms of visual design. Perfect circle, gold and platinum (“the metal of kings”), Roman numerals, slender, feather-shaped hands, and complications upon complications – these are the prominent elements of Jules Audemars. This is the classic, traditional collection of this Swiss watchmaker.
Edward Piguet ventures into rectangular design elegance. This collection adds an edge to Audemars Piguet oeuvre – literal as well as figurative. Made only for men, Edward Piguet projects stable solidity and consideration, carefully balanced by elegantly rounded Arabic numerals (a design element that goes against the grain, as rectangular cases accommodate Roman numerals more naturally).
Though Edward Piguet includes all the major complications, its significance in the overall context of the brand's watches takes on more aesthetic than technological value. This collection adds a fresh touch of restraint to AP image.
Classic Pocket Watches
Pocket watches revive and relive a piece of history – a chapter, to be exact. This nostalgic collection does what watchmakers strived to do for centuries; when they finally could achieve that level of complexity and sophistication, pocket watches became obsolete. Audemars Piguet establish themselves more firmly in the history of watchmaking by creating this Classic collectible collection: a gimmick ennobled by the breadth of the scheme.
Audemars Piguet Millenary collection, made for men and women, steps into the dangerous territory of fashion. It is usually reserved for ladies' timepieces;brand designers defy convention once again, making Millenary a full-fledged collection for both genders.
As usually happens, highly focused collections such as this one, provide invaluable insight into the watchmaker's philosophy in general. Dedicated collections go deeper – they explore and take risks that could even compromise their appeal. Three lines of watches, Deva, Danae and Givrine, demonstrate to the fullest all the fashion qualities suppressed in Royal Oak and Millenary: eccentricity, independence, and half-bizarre half-visionary originality.
Wrist watch owners want their timepieces to imply more than just tradition and values. These are important qualities – but they essentially point to the past. What Audemars Piguet offer, and what made them such a popular Swiss brand, is a unique vision of the future. The trademark octagonal bezel, the partnerships, the ultra-modern and space-age designs – all of these features are based on bold risk-taking – and they denote an industry leader determined to look forward.
More by this Author
A complete guide to Swiss Army watches: in-depth reviews of Victorinox and Wenger models; functions, materials, complications and design; men's and ladies timepieces; comparison, prices and more...
A complete guide to Rado watches: in-depth review of collections and designs; materials and calibers; brand philosophy; Links to dedicated reviews...
In-depth reviews of Casio watches: collections, functions, materials; men's and ladies; atomic watch, solar, analog, digital, alarm; straps, bracelets; comparisons, prices, and more...