Audemars Piguet history
1875-1882: In 1875, two young men with a passion for Fine Watchmaking, Jules-Louis Audemars (1851-1918) and Edward-Auguste Piguet (1853-1919), join forces to design and produce complication watches in the Joux Calley. Audemars designs the movements, while Piguet handles the financial and commercial side. The history of Audemars Piguet Manufacture is deeply rooted in the region, the cradle of Fine Watchmaking.
1883-1994: Over the years the manufacture expands. Determination, imagination and discipline soon bring success. The manufacture specialises in the art of chiming watches, perhaps because the crystal-clear sound of these musical wonders resonates all the better in the peaceful air of a snowy winter.
1995-1920: In the first decade of the 20th century, the company prospers and continues hiring, to the extent that an expansion of the facilities becomes necessary in 1907. The new factory adjoins the company headquarters and accommodates up to seventy workers. This favourable period ends with the approach of WWI. The Manufacture then faces significant difficulties. Beginning in 1918, the founder's sons continue the business begun by their fathers. Paul-Louis Audemars and Paul-Edward Piguet refine their knowledge of wristwatches set with precious stones and complication models for men are highly successful.
1921-1935: The Manufacture evokes the effervescence of the Roaring Twenties with its jewelled ladies' watches.
After art nouveau, art deco prefers simple geometric lines. Audemars Piguet breaks with the tradition of an analogue time display, producing the first watches with jumping hour displays and becomes the unchallenged specialist in these extraordinary models. After the Wall Street crash in 1929, the Manufacture comes through a major crisis. Beginning in 1933, Paul-Louis Audemars' son, Jacques-Louis Audemars, gives production a new impetus.
1936-1953: The manufacture of chronographs breathes new life into production, but business is slow by WWI. After the conflict, a reorganisation is needed. From this time on, simple, elegant, ultra-thin watches rub elbow with he traditional high-end pieces. In 1949, Audemars Piguet participates for the first time in the Basel Fair.
1954-1971: Georges Golay becomes the business manager in 1962 and then, from 1966 to 1987, Managing Director and CEO. An era of prosperity and tremendous creative daring begins. A network of agents improves distribution. The Manufacture continues to make watches with complex mechanism, while showing that it is paying attention to the spirit of the times. Its range of products soon earns international success.
1972-1983: Audemars Piguet turns Watchmaking codes upside down, creating the Royal Oak, the first high-end sports watch made of steel, recognisable by its octagonal bezel with eight hexagonal screws, the guillochage on its dial and its integrated bracelet - a true revolution in the watchmaking world.The octagonal bezel and case back are joined by eight hexagonal screws on the bezel and eight visible bolts on the back.
On September 6, 1651, Cromwell's troops pursued Charles II, the future king of England, Scotland and Ireland, who took refuge in the branches of an oak tree. This tree, later know as the "Royal Oak", became a symbol of protection and power. Between 1769 and 1914, the British fleet christened four of its vessels the H.M.S. Royal Oak? The hull of one of them was reinforced with steel plates and the gun ports for its cannons were octagonal.
1984-1991: Combining tradition and innovation, Audemars Piguet never stops offering remarkable timepieces: the first self-winding ultra-thin wristwatch with a second time zone, and the Star Wheel, with its sector hour display on three sapphire discs. The Manufacture continues its quest for excellence on the greens through an association with golfer Nick Faldo, and on seas, through support for UBS Switzerland, skippered by Pierre Fehlmann.
1992-1998: In 1992, the Manufacture creates the Audemars Piguet Foundation. Born in the Vallée de Joux, the company developed and grew in the midst of wild and unspoilt natural beauty. Deeply attached to these landscapes, it decides actively to contribute to preserving forests throughout he world, and to sensitise younger generations to this issue.
In 1992, the famous octagonal Royal Oak is reinterpreted in an extreme sport version: the Royal Oak Offshore collection is born. Bold and futuristic, this line offers watches with oversized cases and marries steel with rubber.
Audemars Piguet presents the first hand-wound movement with grand and small strike and two-tone quarter-hour repeater for use in a wristwatch.
The Millenary collection, with its inimitable oval case, is launched in 1996. The same year, chess champion Gary Kasparov becomes the brand ambassador. The Millenary Garry Kasparov model, which has a second time zone and a power-reserve display, is introduced in 1998 in honour of this amazing tactician.
1999-2001: Since 1999, Audemars Piguet has been working on the challenge of creating eight limited-edition masterpieces in limited series of twenty. Together, these are known as the Tradition of Excellence collection. Each model must push the limits of the watchmakers' art. The first stop on this odyssey is the Jules Audemars minute repeater wristwatch with tourbillon and split-second chronograph, made in 950 platinum.
Audemars Piguet celebrates its 125th anniversary by looking steadfastly to the future: a new building is opened in Le Bressus to house its workshops and its watchmakers create the Jules Audemars dynamograph, the first watch in the world to combine a three-tone carillon grand strike with a dynamograph. Forever fascinated by the nautical world, the Manufacture signs on with Be happy, the first Swiss challenger in the America's Cup, and creates the Royal Oak City of Sails.
2002-2003: Audemars Piguet's most sophisticated, exclusive mechanisms are designed and built in Le Locle, at the Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi (APRP) Manufacture. This production site expands in 2002, tripling its surface area.
In 2002, the Royal Oak collection turns 30. To celebrate, it adds the ultimate timepiece: the Royal Oak Concept, a manually wound watch with dynamograph, tourbillon, linear power reserve indicator and function selector. The case is made of alacrite 602, the bezel of titanium and the strap of kevlar.
After End of Days in 1999, Audemars Piguet again pairs with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003. In Terminator 3, the actor wears the Royal Oak Offshore T3 chronograph, the largest piece ever made in the Offshore line by Le Brassus master watchmakers.
In 2003, the Swiss challenger Alinghi wins the 31st America's Cup and brings the silver ewer to Europe, a marvellous achievement that the Manufacture Audemars Piguet supports with unequalled enthusiasm and commemorates with the Royal Oak City of Sails Chronograph.
2004: The year 2004 is dedicated to the Femmes du Monde: whether princesses, travellers, or striking beauties, Audemars Piguet dresses them all in its most beautiful watches and jewellery. 2005: After several years of development, Audemars Piguet presents its exclusive self winding Calibre 3120 featuring a direct-drive seconds hand, enhanced reliability thanks to the cross-through balance-wheel bridge, and increased accuracy.
Tradition, excellence, daring: these are the three values upon which Audemars Piguet bases its partnership with the prestigious automobile manufacturer Maserati. To celebrate the famous Italian company's 90th anniversary, Audemars Piguet creates the Dual Time Millenary Maserati.
2005-2007: The Millenary collection, with its oval case and off-centre dial, adds new models: the Millenary MC12 pays bold tribute to Maserati's speed demons, piece no. 5 in the Tradition of Excellence collection shows wonderful inventiveness, and the ladies' line has been give, over the ultra-modern graphics.
Audemars Piguet's boutique in Bal Harbour, Miami, opens in 2006. This new product setting announces a number of other grand openings around the world.
On July 3, 2007, Alinghi defeats the challenger Emirates Team New Zealand 5 to 2 to win the 32nd America's Cup. Extremely proud to have participated in this second executive victory, the Manufacture Audemars Piguet pays tribute to the defender with the Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Team Chronograph.
The Audemars Piguet watchmaking group in 2007 :
- 810 employees: 610 in Switzerland and 200 abroad
- Around ten distribution subsidiaries
- Twelve shops around the world
3 sites production:
- Le Brassus: SA de la Manufacture d'Horlogerie Audemars Piguet & Cie
- Le Locle : Audemars Piguet (Renaud et Papi) SA
- Meyrin: Centror SA
Producing more than 26'000 watches every year.
A new industrial building is planned for the end of 2008. The new Manufacture Des Forges will be part of a sustainable development effort intended to protect both the environment and the health of the users. It will meet the challenge of the company's continual growth while maintaining the independence so cherished by the Audemars Piguet group.