Audemars Piguet’s history is one full of hard work, innovation, dedicated craftsmanship, and artistry. Since its initial foundation in Switzerland right through to the modern day where the brand acts as one of the great names in Swiss luxury watchmaking — and an established member of the ‘big three’ of Swiss luxury watchmaking alongside Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin.
This blog will go into detail on the history of Audemars Piguet. From the brand’s humble beginnings to its rise to the upper echelons of the industry, through to the release of the signature Royal Oak collection and beyond.
Audemars Piguet History: Foundations
The history of Audemars Piguet can be directly traced back to two childhood friends. Louis Audemars and Edward August Piguet had been close in their youth, but it wasn’t until 1874, at the joint age of 24 that these two reconnected and discovered they were both pursuing the art of watchmaking.
The two men had grown up in the Vallee de Joux region of Switzerland, and had come from families of watchmakers with skills and knowledge passed down from generation to generation. As a result, each had unique strengths in specific areas of watchmaking, conveniently, strengths that the other tended to lack. This is what made them the perfect team.
In the year after reconnecting, the pair decided to combine forces, establishing a workshop of their own. What would eventually become known as Audemars Piguet was born.
Audemars Piguet History: The Early Years
Their differing specialties meant that Audemars, as the more technical of the two, focused his efforts primarily on the production. He supervised all product development, as well as the manufacturing of the raw materials that would go into their early models.
Contrastingly, Piguet initially acted to inspect the finished components, make adjustments wherever necessary, and assemble the movements. However, in later years, once Audemars Piguet had established itself in the industry, Piguet began to instead focus more on the business side; sales, marketing, management, etc.
1892 marked the first notable moment in the history of Audemars Piguet with the creation of the first-minute repeater wristwatch. And by 1899, the Audemars Piguet ‘Grand Complication’ pocket watch was released. This innovative timepiece featured a complex movement and seven different complications, a groundbreaking feat for the era. Important innovations by AP in this era included:
- A minute repeater
- Perpetual calendar
- Deadbeat seconds
Between 1882 and 1892 it is estimated that the pair had a hand in the production of around 1600 watches — almost all with one or more complications.
Audemars Piguet History: The Rise
Despite the valiant hard work by the two founders of Audemars Piguet, establishing the brand as one of the most innovative and creative watchmakers in the world was a feat neither man survived to see.
Louis Audemars and Edward August Piguet passed away in 1918 and 1919 respectively and the company was taken on by the next generation of the families, their sons Paul Louis Audemars and Paul Edward Piguet.
It was in this era that the history of Audemars Piguet began to really become intertwined with the greater history of the industry at large. During the early to mid 1900s, AP produced the thinnest pocket watch calibre on the market in 1925, the first skeletonised pocket watch in 1934, and the, at the time, thinnest wristwatch in 1946.
In the build-up to the 1972 Swiss Watch Show, famed watch designer Gérald Genta was tasked with creating a luxury sports watch. And that same year, the most famous model in the history of Audemars Piguet was released, the Royal Oak.
The original Royal Oak release featured an octagonal steel bezel and white gold screws — design features that also remain in its modern iterations. Over time, the Royal Oak has become one of the most enduring watches ever released.
Audemars Piguet History: Today
The 1990s were a relatively quiet time for the brand. Despite this, they managed to maintain their consistent high-quality and released a number of notable watches, while ensuring that their penchant for innovation remained.
From the brand’s foundation in the 19th century, right up to today, Audemars Piguet has — unlike many other similarly sized watchmakers — stayed true to its roots, and remains in the hands of the family.
Modern Audemars Piguet watches are released to the exact same standards of craftsmanship and artistry as when Louis Audemars and Edward August Piguet were still at the helm — perfection is the name of the game.
The turn of the millennium, 2000, marked a notable day in the history of Audemars Piguet, its 125th anniversary. In the two decades since this landmark, the brand has continued to stick to its roots and core values, yet has always made sure to continue to innovate and always seek new standards within the industry.
The continuation of retrospective standards and craftsmanship, combined with a constant strive for innovation and changing with the times is one of the main reasons Audemars Piguet has continued to grow. Today, the brand has a huge, ardent fan base of willing collectors and appreciators of every reference released under the AP umbrella.
Are you considering making the plunge and buying that dream Audemars Piguet you’ve been eying up? Perhaps you have a place in your collection earmarked for a Royal Oak or maybe even the Offshore? Well Blowers Jewellers are perfectly placed to offer a service that you can trust.
Decades of experience operating in the sale of luxury secondhand watches and jewellery means we know the industry inside and out and can provide you a measured and all-encompassing service from top to bottom.
Our team of experts are on hand to help pair you with your dream watch, be it an Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, or any other brand of luxury timepiece.
For more information on what Blowers Jewellers can do to help you, for assistance on finding the Audemars Piguet of your dreams or to guide you through our stunning collection of second hand luxury timepieces, don’t hesitate to contact us today.