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January 31, 2014

Audemars Piguet Forges Ahead with a Pioneering Spirit

By Chris Boyle

In 2014, the Vallée de Joux’s last remaining family-owned watch brand is forging ahead with daring experiments in materials science, bold new design motifs and evolutions of well-loved, long-lasting icons in watchmaking.

Perpetuating the Maison’s deep Savoir-Faire – that pursuit of excellence set out by Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet over 135 years ago – is a brace of new complicated pieces that perfectly encapsulate Audemars Piguet’s pioneering spirit : the Royal Oak Concept GMT Tourbillon in titanium and white ceramic, alongside the Millenary Minute Repeater in pink gold, fitted with Audemars Piguet’s incredibly precise, efficient and robust proprietary escapement.

As forward-thinking as these pieces seem, they are informed by a rich heritage of complicated watchmaking – that stock in trade of the Vallée de Joux’s artisan community. However, Audemars Piguet has never been a wallflower, up the valley – iconic pieces like the Royal Oak have shown how groundbreaking and rebellious it can be.

This same innovative, forward-thinking approach is represented this year by a new Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Collection, still in that supersize diameter of 42 mm that so shocked the Swiss industry in 1993, but never looking so appropriate to 2014, boasting a more refined, architectural design and black-ceramic pushpieces and crowns. The ceramic continues, in white, with the seventh and final new Offshore – the latest to join the Diver family, and potentially the most spectacular yet.

Haute Horology has never felt less traditional, yet more exquisite.

Over 135 years ago, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet set out to make their mark on horology and stand apart from the rest, in a valley filled with the finest watchmakers in the world. Today, the enduring strength of Audemars Piguet is built firmly upon the partners’ ‘Savoir-Faire’ – an ever-innovative pursuit of excellence nurtured by the family-owned firm since 1875, deep in the heart of the Vallée de Joux, where it is still based, and always will be.

As 2013’s magnum opus, the Royal Oak Offshore Grande Complication demonstrated with panache, the Audemars Piguet manufacture has truly mastered the intricacies of its craft through the conception and production of complications. By consistently surpassing technical and theoretical boundaries, it has crafted ever-more demanding mechanisms, from 1882’s Grande Complication pocket watch with central minutes counter, to 1892’s world-first wristwatch with minute repeater to 1978’s thinnest self-winding wristwatch with perpetual calendar and central winding rotor. The Manufacture’s artisans have defined themselves through this evolution of Haute Horology, on the firm belief that to break the rules you must first master them.

This inherent Savoir-Faire combined with the pioneering spirit of the Manufacture, both inform of Audemars Piguet’s biggest launches this year. Firstly, the new Millenary Minute Repeater in pink gold, which was presented for the first time at the inaugural Watches & Wonders salon in Hong Kong in September. An exceptional oval-shaped wristwatch, its exposed, three-dimensional architecture showcases a sophisticated movement featuring Audemars Piguet’s very own escapement, double balance spring, striking mechanism and gongs.

Secondly and most remarkably, Audemars Piguet is unveiling the latest and greatest chapter in its ongoing ‘Concept’ series, taking the notion of the ‘complication’ into even more avant-garde territory. Evolving the original Royal Oak Concept GMT Tourbillon of 2011, the house’s mastery of materials science is showcased in style by its highly sculpted white-ceramic bezel, upper bridge, crown and pushpieces.

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(Source: Audemars Piguet)

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