The Vallée de Joux in Switzerland is surrounded by the lush, rugged forests of the Jura Mountains. The region features stunning, crystal-clear lakes and is renowned for its spectacular beauty. It’s also the birthplace and home of fine Swiss watchmaking, including Audemars Piguet, designers of the iconic Royal Oak.
The company was founded in 1875 by artisans Jules Audemars and Edward Piguet. They drew on the rich regional traditions of horological craftsmanship, plus workshops producing watch parts such as wheels, bridges, springs and all manner of specialist parts and assembly.
The sheer natural beauty of the region served as inspiration for the watchmakers, it still does to this day.
Striking mechanisms, chronographs and astronomical complications were and are the domain of Audemars Piguet. The brand has built a reputation for creating unique, elegant timepieces manufactured to the very highest quality and complexity. This family-owned company brings over a century of expertise, technical skills and innovation to every watch they create.
Their deep understanding and respect of all the intricacies involved in watchmaking allows them to push the craft to the very limits, even beyond. This, after all, is a brand with the motto: “To break the rules, you must first master them”.
The Royal Oak
One of Audemars Piguet’s most iconic and recognisable creations is The Royal Oak timepiece, which first appeared in 1972. This was the world’s first luxury sports watch made in stainless steel instead of the usual gold used in many luxury watches of the time.
With only 24 hours to design an “unprecedented steel watch”, famous watch designer Gérald Genta invented the masterpiece of his illustrious career. The powerful looking watch boasted an octagonal bezel, held by eight hexagonal screws, a design based on the diver helmets seen in the nearby lakes.
The Royal Oak’s self-winding movement with a central rotor was the thinnest in the world, with its bracelet perfectly integrated into the case. This revolutionary watch remains an icon, upholding the innovation and excellence embodied by Audemars Piguet.
The Royal Oak - RD#2
Boasting the world’s thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar, at just 6.30 mm thick, marked a new watchmaking record. The company achieved this remarkable feat by combining functions and features into single components, interacting in a flat row instead of the normal three-level movement layered atop each other.
The Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie
This timepiece featured a newly-developed case construction preventing sound absorption thus, boosting amplification. Traditionally in minute repeater technology, the gongs are fixed to the plate but with this design, they’re attached to a material spread beneath the movement that acts as a soundboard. With the vibration air system improved, sound quality, tone and amplification are richer.
The Royal Oak Frosted Gold
Audemars Piguet unveiled this beautiful watch to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the women’s Royal Oak. This collaboration with jewellery designer Carolina Bucci enhances the brand’s tradition of experimenting with jewellery techniques. The defining feature of this watch is its shimmer, which comes from a process known as the Florentine technique.
Beating the gold with a diamond tipped tool creates tiny indentations on the surface, giving a sparkle effect similar to that of precious stones, like diamond dust. In the words of Carolina Bucci:
‘You have added nothing to the watch, nor subtracted anything - just altered the surface of the gold to make it sparkle when catching the light.’
For more than 140 years, Audemars Piguet has been constantly pushing technical and aesthetic limits, setting multiple world records and introducing a wealth of world firsts.
It’s little wonder these highly prized timepieces are so desired by celebrities, collectors and connoisseurs alike.