Audemars Piguet

No part is used in a watch without being carefully inspected under magnification, and often experiences intense hand-applied finishing and decoration. In fact, the “finishing” phase of making watch movement parts is the most time consuming but also extremely important. Luxury watches command the prices that they do because of the level of effort required to make movements, especially those that contain hand decorated and assembled components. In addition to making watch movements more visually attractive, finishing makes movements operate more accurately by reducing friction, and can help movements to last much longer.

After parts are completed, movements go through various levels of assembly and testing. Movements aren’t only test after they are completed; they undergo constant testing during the assembly process. Certain complications such as a tourbillon require large amounts of adjusting time, providing that watches with a tourbillon escapement require high labor costs, and thus higher premium prices. Assembly and testing can require huge amounts of time, and at Audemars Piguet, entire teams are often involved in the manufacture and assembly of a single watch. There is an incredible level of attention provided to each timepiece when produced in this manner.

Testing also ensures that movements achieve desired levels of accuracy, and that cases provide advertised levels of water resistance. These assurances aren’t provided to merely a single “master watch design”—each individual watch must be tested for accuracy, water resistant, and other measures of quality and durability.

Watch movement making is all well and good, but today’s luxury watches are also valued for their design. Lead of Audemars Piguet product design, Octavio Garcia is a well-spoken American who has been living in Switzerland for almost two decades. Octavio continually smiles when asked about the future direction of Audemars Piguet design and product offering. Restrained by the Swiss preference for secrecy, Octavio still hints at the future direction of product development. He indicates that Audemars Piguet will more than ever focus on a strong core collection, and limited edition offerings will continue to exist but be less prevalent. The message to brand fans seems to be that Audemars Piguet will focus on refining and strengthening the most popular watch designs, but also those that are important to round out the collection, defining the brand now, as well as into the future. Additionally, limited editions will hold a higher value for collectors, being released less often, and with greater selectiveness to preserve their special status for the brand and collectors.

A look at Audemars Piguet products reveals strong luxury sport watches, as well as beautiful, traditionally styled complex timepieces. Such a broad set of competencies assures that Audemars Piguet has no real competitor, making it one of the strongest and most enduring watch brand personalities in the Swiss watch making industry. Audemars Piguet has a rich history that is ardently preserved today, but also pushes the boundaries when it comes to modern design, materials, and technology.

A final message for you is a hint into the motivation of their key technology developing talent. With the advent of the “AP Escapement,” Audemars Piguet wishes to promote the durability and practicality of mechanical timepieces in addition to their luxury status. The AP Escapement (timing regulation system) is extremely fast moving and operates at 43,200 beats per hour, which is about twice that of escapements in other mechanical watches. It is able to do this because it is made from an almost frictionless material called silicium that also benefits from not requiring lubrication. The AP Escapement may be regulated to be as accurate as within 5 seconds a week, a figure that is extremely impressive for a mechanical watch. Audemars Piguet will continue to develop the AP Escapement technology, with a possible goal of placing them in each movement that Audemars Piguet produces. The future for Audemars Piguet sees continually improved, novel designs, with an enthusiastic attention to technology and performance. All within the bounds set by their strict adherence to the tradition and history that put the brand where it is today.

Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site