Scholarship says that in 1874, two school friends reconnected after becoming master watchmakers. In 1875 those friends, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet, decided to join forces in Le Brassus, a village in the famed “Center of Complicated Watchmaking,” Vallée de Joux in Switzerland. While both watchmakers had the skill and mastery to make their own watches, they chose to combine their time and efforts. Audemars oversaw the production, creation, and technical side of watchmaking while Piguet focused on sales and management. In 1881, the young team founded Audemars Piguet & Cie and a legend was born.
Audemars Piguet’s technical innovation is arguably best-in-class, as they have no shortage of patents and iconic complications. In 1892, the brand released the first minute repeating wristwatch and in 1899 they debuted their Grand Complication pocket watch. This piece had no less than seven unique complications: grand and small strike minute repeater, alarm, perpetual calendar, deadbeat seconds, chronograph with jumping seconds, and a split-seconds hand. In 1921, they created the first jump hour wristwatch and in 1986, the ultra-thin self-winding tourbillon—the smallest ever made.
Sandwiched between the two aforementioned technical accomplishments in 1972, Audemars Piguet employed a young Gerald Genta and introduced the legendary Royal Oak. The brand introduced this piece in the middle of the “Quartz Crisis” when traditional watchmaking was in danger of being forgotten. The Royal Oak was an outlier at the time as it was different from every other watch on the market. Stainless steel with an integrated bracelet, the piece also featured a case with octagonal bezel and screws set inside of it.
Technical innovation has always been the name of the game for Audemars Piguet, which to this day remains a family-owned manufacture in the Vallée de Joux. Whether it be the award-winning ultra-thin perpetual calendar Royal Oak, the entirely ceramic Royak Oak, or the the Royal Oak Concept—the very best sounding minute repeater—they have always delivered technical prowess. Audemars Piguet is one of the only high-end manufactures to supply movements to other manufactures, and they are considered the third and final name in the Holy Trinity of watchmaking.
Auction Results Audemars Piguet
'Royal Oak Offshore' titanium wristwatch, Ref. 26470IO.OO.A006CA.01