Luxury Watch Brand: The History and Evolution of Audemars Piguet

The story of Audemars Piguet, a renowned Swiss luxury watch manufacturer, began in the late 18th century in the Vallée de Joux, where farmers turned towards horology during the long winter months. This dedication to craftsmanship eventually led to the formation of the company in 1875. Over time, Audemars Piguet has grown into a prestigious brand known not only for its tradition but also for its innovative designs and advancements in watchmaking technology.

One of the most notable moments in the company's history was the introduction of the ground-breaking Royal Oak collection in the 1970s. This bold and daring design, with its integrated steel bracelet and octagonal bezel, revolutionized the industry and created a new category in luxury watchmaking.

By challenging the norms and pushing boundaries, Audemars Piguet has solidified its position as a leader in the watchmaking industry, embodying their slogan, "To Break the Rules, You Must First Master Them."

Throughout its history, Audemars Piguet has remained dedicated to the highest standards of craftsmanship and design. This relentless pursuit of excellence has allowed the brand to evolve and adapt to changing times, resulting in an extraordinary legacy that continues to shape the world of luxury watches.

The Founders of Audemars Piguet

Jules Louis Audemars

Jules Louis Audemars was a young watchmaker who had a passion for creating intricate timepieces. In his early twenties, he reconnected with his childhood friend, Edward Auguste Piguet, and the two decided to go into business together. In 1875, they established their watchmaking workshop on the Audemars family farm in their hometown of Le Brassus, Switzerland.

Edward Auguste Piguet

Edward Auguste Piguet, also in his early twenties when the partnership was formed, brought his own skillset in complicated watches to the table. Together with Jules Louis Audemars, they began to design and produce high-quality timepieces that would eventually become known as Audemars Piguet.

Le Brassus, Vallée de Joux

Le Brassus, a small town in the Vallée de Joux region of Switzerland, is where the story of Audemars Piguet began. The Vallée de Joux, situated in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland, has long been known for its complicated watch mechanisms.

It was here that the two childhood friends, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet, decided to set up their workshop in 1875. The region's rich heritage in watchmaking would help shape the company's history and continue to play an essential role in the development of Audemars Piguet timepieces.

Innovations and Milestones

Quartz Crisis

During the 1970s, the Swiss watchmaking industry faced a significant challenge with the emergence of the Quartz Crisis. This period marked the transition from traditional mechanical timepieces to quartz-powered watches. Despite the industry's turmoil, Audemars Piguet remained innovative and focused on their strengths in creating high-quality, complex watches.

Grand Complication

A testament to their resilience and watchmaking expertise, Audemars Piguet developed the Grande Complication series. These exceptional timepieces encompass multiple complications such as chronographs, minute repeaters, and perpetual calendars, showcasing the brand's technical mastery and commitment to horological excellence.

Minute Repeater Wristwatch

In 1892, Audemars Piguet created the first wristwatch with a minute-repeating movement, which was sold to Louis Brandt frères (Omega SA). This innovation demonstrated the brand's ability to miniaturize complex mechanisms and helped cement their reputation as a leader in advanced watchmaking techniques.

Perpetual Calendar

Perpetual calendars are intricate complications that can accurately display the date, accounting for the variable lengths of months and leap years. Audemars Piguet has a long tradition of creating exceptional timepieces with perpetual calendars, showcasing their commitment to precision horology and innovative designs.

Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin

The Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin represents a milestone in Audemars Piguet's history, as it combines the ultra-slim movement with their iconic Royal Oak design. Introduced in the 1970s by designer Gerald Genta, the Royal Oak revolutionized the watch industry by introducing a luxury stainless steel sports watch with a distinctive design.

The Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin carries on this tradition of innovation and excellence, proving that Audemars Piguet remains at the forefront of horological advancements.

Iconic Timepieces

Royal Oak

The Royal Oak, designed by Gerald Genta in 1972, is one of Audemars Piguet's most iconic timepieces. Genta's groundbreaking design included an octagonal bezel and integrated bracelet, both of which became signature elements of the Royal Oak collection.

The first model, known as the "Jumbo" and reference 5402, featured a slim profile with a calibre 2121 movement. It was a remarkable design that captivated the horological world at a time when luxury stainless steel watches were still a rarity.

Over the years, the Royal Oak has evolved in various forms and complications such as the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, Royal Oak Chronograph, and the Royal Oak Tourbillon; nevertheless, reference 15202 (the modern Jumbo) remains the most appreciated Royal Oak among enthusiasts for its classic design and finishing.

Royal Oak Offshore

The Royal Oak Offshore, a more sporty and robust version of the Royal Oak, was launched in 1993. Designed by Emmanuel Gueit, it retained the octagonal bezel and integrated bracelet signature to Royal Oak, while introducing a larger, thicker case, and a new chronograph calibre.

Through various iterations, the Offshore has been crafted in a range of materials such as stainless steel, titanium, ceramic, and precious metals like platinum. The collection has also expanded beyond the chronograph to include complications like the Offshore Diver, Offshore Perpetual Calendar, and Offshore Tourbillon.

Royal Oak Concept

The Royal Oak Concept series, introduced in 2002, represents Audemars Piguet's dedication to technological innovation and avant-garde design. The collection showcases various experimental and advanced complications, ranging from the first minute repeater wristwatch in the Royal Oak Concept RD#1 to the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT.

The combination of cutting-edge materials and highly engineered movements makes the Royal Oak Concept a testament to the brand's commitment to horological progress and ingenuity.

Watchmaking Mastery

Swiss Craftsmanship

Audemars Piguet, founded in 1875 by Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet in the Swiss village of Le Brassus, has long been a prestigious watchmaking company.

Their dedication to ancestral expertise and innovation is a cornerstone of their identity, placing them among the leading brands in the international watch industry.

Switzerland has been at the heart of modern horology, and Audemars Piguet has leveraged its Swiss roots to maintain a high standard of quality and precision throughout its history.

The brand's reputation for excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail has won over watch enthusiasts and collectors worldwide.

Complicated Mechanisms

A key factor contributing to Audemars Piguet's success is its mastery of complicated mechanisms. The company has produced some of the most complex and sophisticated timepieces, including models with features like perpetual calendars, the equation of time, split-seconds hands, and more.

By pushing the limits of watchmaking technology, they have demonstrated their prowess in horological achievements.

The Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, dedicated to preserving the brand's heritage, displays an extensive collection of their famed horological triumphs. These timepieces reflect the brand's commitment to technical innovation and the creative application of complex mechanisms.


Audemars Piguet is renowned for its high-quality hand-finishing techniques, which distinguish it from other brands such as Rolex and Zenith. They take great pride in their meticulous approach to refining each timepiece, resulting in exceptional and unique creations.

Some key elements of Audemars Piguet's hand-finishing process include:

  • Anglage: Beveling and polishing sharp edges within the watch movement, creating smooth transitions and reflecting light beautifully.
  • Perlage: Applying a pattern of circular graining on movement components, giving them an aesthetically pleasing, textured appearance.
  • Polishing: Ensuring that each component of the watch is polished to perfection, maintaining the impeccable aesthetics and function of the timepiece.

Audemars Piguet's dedication to the art of hand-finishing is a testament to their passion for watchmaking and their commitment to providing exceptional timepieces to collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Standing Out in a Competitive Market


Audemars Piguet, a renowned Swiss manufacturer of luxury watches, has maintained its position in the watchmaking industry by upholding the values of independence and craftsmanship.

Founded by Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet in the Vallée de Joux in 1875, the company has continued to operate independently, embracing innovation and creativity while preserving traditional watchmaking techniques.


In the early days, Audemars Piguet gained recognition for their exceptional pocket watches. However, to stand out in the competitive market, the company made bold and revolutionary moves. In April 1972, during the annual Swiss Watch Show (now known as BaselWorld), Audemars Piguet introduced the iconic Royal Oak.

This daring design featured a luxury steel watch with an integrated bracelet, breaking conventional norms and setting a new standard for luxury watches.

Over the years, Audemars Piguet has continued to innovate within the watchmaking industry. For example, they produced the early Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, merging new technology with elegant design, which further solidified their reputation for excellence.

Cultural Impact

Audemars Piguet has also been a major influence on watch design and culture, often seen as a trendsetter in the luxury watch market. The release and success of the Royal Oak challenged other Swiss watch manufacturers, such as Omega, to evolve their own designs and offerings.

Its distinctive octagonal bezel, unconventional materials, and intricate craftsmanship have inspired numerous watch aficionados, as well as other manufacturers in the industry.

The company's dedication to preserving watchmaking artisanship while embracing innovation and pushing boundaries has allowed it to create timepieces that withstand the test of time. As a result, Audemars Piguet's unique style and approach have left an indelible mark on the watch industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did Audemars Piguet begin?

Audemars Piguet began in 1875 when Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet joined forces in Le Brassus, Switzerland. They shared a passion for watchmaking and decided to create their own company. The focus was on crafting high-quality timepieces, and to this day, Audemars Piguet remains dedicated to maintaining its heritage of fine watchmaking.

Who are the founders?

The founders of Audemars Piguet are Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet. Both were skilled watchmakers from the Vallée de Joux, a region in Switzerland known for its watchmaking tradition. Their shared vision and expertise laid the foundation for the company's success.

What's the significance of Royal Oak?

The Royal Oak is a ground-breaking luxury sports watch launched by Audemars Piguet in 1972. It was a bold move, and the design defied conventional watch norms. The octagonal bezel, integrated bracelet, and exposed screw heads became the Royal Oak's signature characteristics, representing a turning point for the industry. The Royal Oak rescued Audemars Piguet from a financial collapse in the 1970s, and marked the beginning of a new era for luxury watches.

How has AP evolved over time?

Audemars Piguet has shown remarkable resilience over time; it remained true to its roots while evolving and adapting to changing market trends. By constantly improving designs, integrating technological advancements, and experimenting with new materials, AP continues to innovate and maintain an avant-garde reputation in the high-end watchmaking industry. Creativity blossomed with iconic collections such as the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore, establishing AP as an influential force in luxury watchmaking.

What are their iconic watch models?

Audemars Piguet is best known for its Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore models. The Royal Oak, with its distinctive design featuring an octagonal bezel and integrated bracelet, is considered the pioneer of luxury sports watches. Launched in 1993, the Royal Oak Offshore is an even more rugged version of the original Royal Oak. Other notable collections include the Millenary, Jules Audemars, and the Haute Joaillerie collection, which showcases breathtaking artistry with gem-set watches.

What sets AP apart from competitors?

Audemars Piguet sets itself apart from competitors with a deep-rooted heritage, commitment to excellence, and unwavering dedication to craftsmanship. As one of the few remaining family-owned Swiss watch manufacturers, AP has full control over its creative process and production, allowing for a higher degree of innovation and quality assurance. The dedication to craftsmanship spans generations, and each Audemars Piguet timepiece is meticulously crafted and rigorously tested to ensure it meets the brand's exacting standards.

Leave a comment