For countless decades, Audemars Piguet has been at the forefront of the watchmaking industry for its horological excellence and innovation.
They are renowned for introducing the first luxury sports watch — the Gerald Genta-designed Audemars Piguet Royal Oak wristwatch.
But did you know the story behind this world-famous watch brand and its notable timepieces?
Why is Audemars Piguet so special?
Let’s find out by exploring their rich history and their most iconic watches that forever changed the world of watchmaking.
Keep reading our short and precise article below to learn more about the exciting history of Audemars Piguet.
Audemars Piguet Brand Summary
|Industry||Retail, Luxury Goods, and Jewelry||Founder(s)||Jules Audemars, Edward Piguet|
|Company Size||1,001 to 5,000 Employees||CEO||Ilaria Resta|
|Headquarters||Le Brassus, Switzerland||Owned By||Jasmine Audemars, Olivier Frank Edward Audemars|
|Type||Privately Held||Watches Produced||40,000|
What Is The Origin Story Behind Audemars Piguet?
Like in the history of Patek Philippe, the story of the Royal Oak collection and its makers almost starts from scratch.
The history of Audemars Piguet started when childhood friends Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet met again in the early 1870s and found out that they were both working as watchmakers.
In 1875, they decided to start a watchmaking company that would become one of the most famous watch brands in the world, the Audemars Piguet. It was established in Le Brassus, a village inside the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland.
The two watchmakers divided the tasks after establishing the company. Audemars takes charge of the production and technical aspects, while Piguet focuses on sales and administration.
Since its establishment, the second and third-generation leaders of the company were from the Audemars and Piguet families.
Today, the famous watch brand is still a family-owned business led by Jasmine Audemars and Olivier Frank Edward Audemars, the fourth-generation company owners, making it one of the remaining independent brands in the Swiss watch industry.
How Did Audemars Piguet Get Its Name?
Even if the company was established years ago, it was only in 1881 when the name Audemars Piguet & Cie was first used, which comes from the names of its founders, Jules Audemars, and Edward Piguet.
They combined their surnames to form the name Audemars Piguet, which would soon become synonymous with expert watchmaking and become a member of the “Holy Trinity” of the watch world, alongside Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
Audemars Piguet Chronology
Before establishing their company, Jules Audemars and Edward Piguet were already expert watchmakers. Audemars developed complex watch movements for other companies, while Piguet focused on watch movement regulation.
They established their own company in 1875 and began producing fine watches for their customers.
In 1892, the brand introduced the first-minute repeater wristwatch in the market.
And besides this minute repeating wristwatch, they also created the very first grand complication pocket watch, which features functions such as a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, alarm, deadbeat seconds, split-seconds hand, chronograph, and jumping seconds.
Unfortunately, Audemars and Piguet passed on in 1918 and 1919 respectively.
But this tragedy didn’t stop the company as they continued to achieve significant success in the following years in the leadership of the next generation of their families, Paul Louis Audemars and Paul Edward Piguet.
In 1925, the brand released the thinnest pocket watch caliber, making its name more famous inside the watch community.
A few years later, in 1934, they introduced the first skeletonized pocket watch to the public.
But this doesn’t stop there. The company launched the world’s thinnest wristwatch in 1946, while its first perpetual calendar wristwatch was introduced in 1957.
The Audemars Piguet also holds the record for the first slimmest self-winding watch movement, showcasing a thickness of only 2.45mm, and was introduced in 1967.
Like other watch companies that create mechanical watches, the impact of the quartz crisis compelled Audemars Piguet to review its strategies and redefine its self-identity in the market to remain at the forefront of watchmaking.
This forced them to ask and partner with Gerald Genta, the prominent Swiss watch designer, to create new watch collections to offer in the market.
And in 1972, at the Swiss Watch Show (more commonly known today as Baselworld), AP and Genta presented the idea of the first Royal Oak model.
The watch features an octagonal bezel with 8 screws inside a tonneau-shaped case and a stainless steel integrated bracelet.
With this Royal Oak collection of watches, Audemars Piguet cemented its place in the upper echelon of the watch industry.
The 1980s and 1990s
In 1983 and 1984, the famous Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was successively enriched with day-date, moon phase, and perpetual calendar functions.
The 1990s were relatively more modest years for the brand. However, it was still important to note that Audemars Piguet released some popular models within this timeframe.
One example of this is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore, designed by the famous Emmanuel Gueit. One of the most notable models that paid homage to the classic Royal Oak watches.
Other exceptional watches released during this time are the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, Star Wheel, and the Millenary Collection.
The 2000s to the Present
Since the creation of the Royal Oak watches, Audemars Piguet carried on with innovation by releasing new models of watches.
In 2002, Audemars Piguet released the Royal Oak Concept collection.
These limited-edition watches feature an improved classic Royal Oak design with elegant dials that provide depth and uniqueness. They also launched Royal Oak for ladies with frosted gold finishing.
Moreover, they also introduced models made in ceramic, such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked, Tourbillon Extra-Thin, and Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked.
The brand also collaborates with athletes, artists, and other industries. But in 2021, they took this collaboration to the next level by partnering with Marvel Studios and releasing the Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Flying Tourbillon.
Who Is The Owner Of Audemars Piguet?
Since it was founded in 1875, Audemars Piguet remains an independent and family-owned company.
Today, the famous Swiss watchmaking brand is led by Jasmine Audemars and Olivier Frank Edward Audemars after Jacques Louis Audemars and Paulette Piguet passed the task of continuing the company’s legacy to them.
The company is now run by the newly appointed CEO, Ilaria Resta.
Audemars Piguet Ambassadors & Brand Placement
As we said earlier, Audemars Piguet collaborated with various celebrities, personalities, and other industries to showcase their watches.
This helped them to market their timepieces and is one of the reasons why their products are still widely sought after, even in the secondary market.
Some of the most prominent ambassadors of the brand are Mark Ronson, LeBron James, Lionel Messi, and the legendary formula one driver Michael Schumacher.
The brand also sponsored events such as partnering with Montreux Jazz Festival and holding private golf tournaments.
Current & Past Audemars Piguet Models
Here is a list of some of the most iconic timepieces and complicated watches that display the timeless elegance of their watches and the exceptional craftsmanship of Audemars Piguet.
Classic Audemars Piguet Watches
The Royal Oak collection is their most famous and highly coveted model that can be found in their watch catalog.
These sports watches are renowned for their octagonal bezel, with eight hexagonal-shaped screws, and their signature Tapisserie dial.
These watches are available in different metals, including stainless steel, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold.
Price Range: $54,500 – $232,000
Royal Oak Offshore
Since its release in 1993, the Royal Oak Offshore collection has become one of the most admired timepieces in the current AP’s catalog.
It managed to maintain the classic elegance and aesthetics of the original model while offering a bolder and sportier look.
It features a much larger case, a “Mega Tappissarie” dial, and is now secured with the traditional pin buckle, instead of a folding clasp.
Price Range: $20,000 – $436,900
Discontinued Audemars Piguet Models
Audemars Piguet Jules
One of the most underrated dress watches ever made, the Jules Audemars Piguet, pays tribute to one of the two founding members of the world-famous watchmaking brand.
It features a 41mm rose gold case with an exhibition caseback and is paired with an alligator leather strap.
It was discontinued in the mid-2000s.
Price Range: $14,000 – $33,800
Audemars Piguet Edward
The Audemars Piguet Edward watches are also a line of elegantly made dress watches created by the brand.
In fact, they are also one of the best rectangular watches we have seen. And like the previous watch, it is made to honor one of the two founding members of the AP brand.
These timepieces feature perfectly polished cases with sleek dials and highly complicated watch movements. Because of its elegance and stunning beauty, it is often compared to Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso watches.
Price Range: $5,900 – $120,000
Audemars Piguet John Schaeffer
The Audemars Piguet John Schaeffer line were cushion-shaped watches that showcase different complications, such as jumping hours, minute repeater, and star-wheel displays.
And although it has now been discontinued and replaced by the Code 11.59 collection, many watch enthusiasts still admire these watches as they remain an icon for purists who have been following haute horology for years.
Price Range: $8,220 – $80,000
Audemars Piguet Innovations & Patents
Audemars Piguet is one of the oldest pioneers of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Since its establishment in Le Brassus, Switzerland, in 1875, the brand has accumulated hundreds of patents and innovations throughout its history.
Here are some of the most notable contributions of the Audemars Piguet brand to the watchmaking world:
- First wristwatch minute repeater
- Ultra-complicated “Universelle” pocket watch
- World’s smallest repeater caliber
- First perpetual calendar wristwatch with leap year display
- First self-winding tourbillon watch
- World’s first Laptimer chronograph
Audemars Piguet Serial Number Structure
Like other luxury watches, every timepiece from Audemars Piguet has its own randomized serial number. Since 1972, AP serial numbers start with a letter followed by numbers.
These unique alphanumeric serial numbers provide essential information you need to know to help you track the production date of a watch.
Moreover, this can also be used for authenticity purposes.
How To Find A Audemars Piguet Serial Number
The unique serial number of each Audemars Piguet watch is engraved on the outside of the caseback. While the movement number is engraved on the center part of the movement or in the manipulator next to the balance wheel.
Audemars Piguet History – FAQ
The first Audemars Piguet ever made was a pocket watch, while the first Royal Oak model was created in 1972.
All watches from Audemars Piguet are made in Switzerland.
Generally speaking, Audemars Piguet watches are more expensive than Rolex timepieces.
Audemars Piguet History – Conclusion
There you have it!
That is our short and precise history of Audemars Piguet and some of their greatest contributions to the modern watch world.
We hope this guide can help you further understand the story behind every timepiece made by this top-tier luxury brand.
If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to leave us a message below.