Friday, October 28, 2011
Master Watchmakers since 1875
Audemars Piguet is well known throughout the world for over one hundred and thirty six years. Their logo in Suisse says, ‘Le Maitre d’horlogerie depuis 1875’. They are indeed the master watchmakers since 1875. They have been recognized for their superb craftsmanship, highest quality and majestic designs in fashion and luxury watches. They are famous all across the globe as manufacturers of luxurious watches with unique properties and style. As one of the world’s oldest watchmakers, the Company is owned and run to this day by the families who established it. Jules Audemars and Edward-August Piguet started the Company in1875 in Vallee de Joux which is a valley of the Jura Mountains in the Swiss Vaud Canton, located about fifty kilometres north of Geneve and Lausanne. Audemars and Piguet combined their skills to design watches for the famous watch making houses in Geneva. Audemars Piguet’s great moment came in 1972 when they achieved a world first in watch making when they introduced the world’s first sports watch, ‘The Royal Oak’.
The Families are carrying the Audemars Piguet Tradition
After setting up the watch making company and making it world famous, both founders, Jules Audemars and Edward-August Piguet, handed over the manufacturing rein to their successors in their respective families as they both died in the successive years leading up to 1920. Their successors have continued in the same tradition of style and verve to make the company flourish. Though they suffered severe setbacks during both the World Wars, they came back strongly with the launch of the first ladies’ wrist watches and super thin models by making sure that their business did not receive a big dent. In 1972, they introduced the world’s first sports watch, ‘The Royal Oak’. This watch has revolutionized the shapes and the aesthetics of watches with a unique design of its steel edges as well as its octagonal shape. Audemars Piguet specializes in the making of intricate fashion and luxury watches. Even after their phenomenal success, each watch of theirs is still handmade.
Historical Gems from Audemars Piguet
Besides giving the world the first wristwatches for ladies and the first sports watch, other highlights and gems that are historical from Audemars Piguet include the first wristwatch with mechanical winding and tourbillon. A tourbillon, that means whirlwind in French, is a mechanical watch device that transfers energy to a time keeping element. They have also given the world the smallest self-winding watch with a universal perpetual calendar. They are also the pioneers of Dual Time and the Ladies’ Minute Repeater Chiming Watch. Their dual time watches run with automatic movement which features a second time zone displaying power reserve. They are considered today as one of the three biggest watchmakers in the company of Vacheron Constantine and Patek Philippe. The Company designs over sixteen thousand fashion and luxury watches in a year and has produced some of the most extra ordinary and timeless pieces ever crafted. In fact, they are the leaders in designer watches that specialize in miniaturization as well as precision with their sophisticated timepieces.
Leading Showcase Boutique in Geneva
Audemars Piguet has opened a flagship bouquet in Geneva in March earlier this year at 12, Place de la Fusterie. This boutique is the Brassus manufacturer’s leading premium showcase in the Swiss capital of elite watch making. This is the largest and the twelfth boutique of the watchmakers until now. It is a well designed and spacious interior. There is a central section for the latest designs and for those products that are based on the annual selected theme. It also includes a private library for relaxation and reading where you can relax with cigars and wine. Apart from the central section, there is an after sales area where you can appreciate the craftsmanship. The boutique gives a complete picture of the product range, showcasing some older timepieces that have become landmarks in the company’s history along with its latest creations. The overall effect as conveyed by the boutique brings out the Company’s core values of innovation and excellence in designing fashion and luxury watches.
A Perfect Energy Efficient Manufacturing Commitment
The new production unit, Brassus Bois SA, is an ideal workshop for making timepieces. This workshop has been designed as per the new Minergie ECO label. It involves energy efficient electricity and heating, top quality construction material which is both environmental and user friendly throughout its life cycle. The building has blended well with the surrounding landscape. Its heating system respects the surroundings. Audemars Piguet has a remote heating network that will ultimately provide heating for close to a hundred local buildings. The process of manufacturing is fully optimized and the working conditions for more than three hundred employees that have been set up in small operational units are beyond compare. The Company has taken care of the health of the workers who will be making fashion and luxury watches. It has taken precautions with the electromagnetic fields and other ecological issues. This workshop has become a model re-landscaping project.
History of a World Famous Collaboration
The long history of this world famous collaboration goes back to 1875 when a twenty three year old Jules Audemars joined hands with a twenty one year old Edward-August Piguet to start their own watch making company. Both were trained watchmakers. They learnt their trade after completing their public school studies in the town of Le Brassus. Around this time, Audemars was learning to design `ebouches’ which are blank watch movements that are finished and fitted by a watch manufacturer. He had set up a workshop at his parents’ farm. Meanwhile, Piguet was working as a self employed `repasseur’ who is a master watchmaker who performs the final regulation on a timepiece. Audemars engaged Piguet to work for him. Audemars became in charge of production and technical supervision. Piguet looked after the sales and management side. This formula has worked well right up to this time with the Audemars looking after the technical matters and the Piguets looking after the commercial affairs. This world famous collaboration gave birth to Audemars Piguet who emerged as one of the world’s finest fashion and luxury watchmakers.
Timepiece for Holy Celebration
When the Vatican Radio, which was commissioned by Pius XI especially for the voice of the Pope, completed its eighty years earlier this year, Audemars Piguet made a gesture of celebration and designed a special watch for the Pope. The Vatican Radio was an all white watch. It uses Roman numerals to indicate the hours and the regular standard numbers to indicate the minutes. The numbers have a unique presentation feature. They grow larger when they are closer to the left side of the watch’s face, like the thirty to fifty-five minutes mark. The watch is engraved with an inscription that says, ‘Radio Vaticana 1931-2011’. This was meant as a one-time creation by the fashion and luxury watchmaker, specifically meant to be worn by the Pope Benedict XVI. A couple of million Catholics all over the world would be eyeing this watch and wishing to get their hands on it.
Improving Biodiversity and Battling Climate Change
Patagonia Sur and Audemars Piguet are collaborating in the battle against climate change. They are aiming towards improving biodiversity and replenishing the Patagonian native forests. Audemars Piguet has always led the way in corporate social commitment besides being one of the world’s leading fashion and luxury watchmakers. They are now a founder member of the Corporate Conservation Circle of Patagonia Sur. They have come out with a novel business model which is aimed at the conservation of ecologically valuable ecosystems in the Chilean Patagonia. This innovative project will bring together companies that are interested in committing themselves to the care and protection of the environment. The Company started a Foundation about two decades ago with a focus on the conservation of forests around the world. This project will include planting of 7,500 native species trees in an area of 614 acres with a plan of an estimated removal of 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Djokovic is the Latest Ambassador
After the U.S. Open, the world number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic, was made a brand ambassador for the fashion and luxury watch designers. Djokovic has joined the brand’s team of ambassadors that includes many famous sports personalities like Michael Schumacher, Leo Messi, LeBron James, Sachin Tendulkar, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy. Djokovic is highly appreciative of the timepieces and their refinement. Some months ago, he had paid a visit to the watch company and during his visit; he showed his admiration for the brand’s latest watches after taking a tour of the famous workshop in Le Brassus. In addition to his tennis playing abilities, Audemars Piguet has acknowledged the generosity shown by Djokovic who is involved with a number of charity organizations. He has founded the Novak Humanitarian Fund that provides access to tennis courts and scholarships for young Serbians. It is also associated with the donation of ambulances to hospitals in Kosovska Mitrovica and Brus.
Longest Supporters of After-School All-Stars
Audemars Piguet has helped in the growth that After-School All-Stars has seen. The support has been for many years. The support phase has seen through the launch of four initiatives and three national programs. The support has been through financial resources to make these additions possible. Just recently, they have donated a million dollars to help After-School all-Stars in its attempt to expand its work and programs. Audemars Piguet, the fashion and luxury watch designer, is an important partner with ASAS in their battle to offer access to education and opportunity for those young people who deserve it most. Earlier this year in June, there was a gala to raise over a million dollars in company with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is a patron ambassador of Audemars Piguet right from his Terminator days. The gala was held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City. The live auction was conducted by Sothebys.
Four Seasons Installs Royal Oak Clocks throughout its Properties
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts have chosen Audemars Piguet as their official timekeeper in both North and South America. They have put up the Royal Oak clocks throughout their properties. This is a partnership between the world’s oldest watch manufacturer and the renowned luxury hotel brand. At their hotels in New York City, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Miami, Las Vegas, Houston, Chicago and Beverly Hills, guests are greeted by the iconic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak clocks located strategically. Four Seasons have got these clocks in twenty one of their properties including the one in Costa Rica. The clocks adorn high profile locations at the main entrance, concierge desk and spa and business center. At Beverly Hills, they have five clocks that have been placed together horizontally at the front entrance. In Mexico City, the hotel’s lobby, second floor meeting room, athletic club and business center feature these clocks. This partnership is unique as both the companies are timeless and exude the ultimate in fashion and luxury.
Features that have earned them Global Admiration
It is accepted universally that Audemars Piguet is one brand of Swiss fashion and luxury watches that has gained global admiration as a result of their designs and stylish steel edges with excellent utilization of distinct hexagonal screws. Their unique features are minute repeaters, perpetual calendars and time hopping functions. Each series of theirs has a personal story attached to it. They have existed in the business for the past fourteen decades because of their superior products. The world’s first minute repeater movement was designed by them in a wristwatch in 1892. Since then, the managing families and the brand have added many impressive and collectible models in the portfolio. Even today, their wristwatches are recognizable instantly. They combine innovative design with high construction quality to make their watches impressive. When the Royal Oak was launched in 1972, it captured the imagination of the watch making world as the world’s first sports watch.
iPhone4 and iPad Apps
The Audemars Piguet application which has been designed as a flippant variation of its website allows the users to explore great content and astounding graphics. The high resolution screens of both iPhone4 and iPad exhibit the signature models and intricate mechanisms of Audemars Piguet. The App includes films that have new models acting in them to promote these fashion and luxury items with videos that highlight the expertise in watch making. You will also find their online magazine, `Audacity.ch’ with its latest news, innovations and icons of the brand. The `Try It’ function lets you try a model of your selection by virtually placing it on your wrist. Once the photo has been taken, you can share it with your friends by eMail or MMS. Another selection takes you to all Audemars Piguet boutiques and points of sale all over the world, particularly those that are closest to you, thanks mainly to the integrated global positioning system.
The Online Information Platform
‘Audacity.ch’ is an online magazine that has been started as an information platform by Audemars Piguet about a year back. The site has been opened for all watch enthusiasts and haute horlogerie. It is also meant for the press, the collectors and the general public. It will specially cover the brand news concerning the sponsors, boutique openings, new product launches, AP icons, limited editions and technical innovations. The magazine also deals with the craftsmanship and the workmen behind it who exercise that expertise. The magazine shares the Company’s heritage by telling the general public all about the legendary watches and the people who are creating history with the brand. This website is going to focus on three corporate values of the fashion and luxury watch manufacturers – they are excellence, tradition and the audacity to inspire. The articles that are published here are meant for a large audience circulation and are also intended for the written press.
A Very Special Timeless Museum
Musee Audemars Piguet has been built in the first Audemars family residence and is a testimonial to the traditional roots of the fashion and luxury watch making factory that was set up in 1875 by Jules Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet. Apart from the factory, the museum is a testimony also to the crucial role that the brand has played in the history of watch making in the six rooms spread out in the museum. During your visit to this museum, you will get a chance to explore one of the most excellent illustrations of traditional Suisse watch making. You can see the pocket watches that were made in 1780 even much before the existence of Audemars Piguet. You can come down history lane to the superb contemporary grand and intricate designs. In this museum, you can also go through two workshops where half a dozen craftsmen demonstrate their expertise.
Caretaker of a Priceless Heritage
The curator of the Audemars Piguet Museum, Herr Martin Wehrli, is a walking almanac himself as he greets the visitors to this priceless heritage and shares his passion with them. As Audemars Piguet is the oldest watch manufacturer which is still run by members and generations of its founding families, they have been able to preserve archives and old documents and keep them intact. For example, they have every single order book available from 1875 till date. People can easily track the date and place where each of the designs or creations was sold. Mr. Wehrli is a well travelled person. He traverses the globe in pursuit of rare timepieces and gems to add to the already impressive collection that the museum has built up in time which is in excess of nine hundred pieces. The museum is private and is open by appointment only. It has one of the most charming collections of fashion and luxury watch complications in the world.
The Foundation wants to protect the Forests
The Audemars Piguet Foundation has tried hard to use a portion of the remains from the sale of the fashion and luxury watches to protect the Earth’s forests. It is concentrating hard on the promotion of building up forests and providing environmental education to people. The Audemars Piguet Foundation is helping in sowing the seeds from Portugals’s Tapada de Mafra reserve to the trees of New York’s Botanical Gardens and right up to Ghana’s Allanblakia Plantations. On the occasion of the Royal Oak completing a score of years in 1992, this Foundation was created and it gives its full time resources and energies to the cause of building up forests. It has pioneered the environmental education for children on a worldwide basis for the last eight years. In the beginning, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) gave the directions and many project suggestions for the purpose of assuring top quality standards.
The Foundation Supports Practical Environmental Education
The Audemars Piguet Foundation’s budget on an annual basis will depend on the watch sales. Audemars Piguet has an amount that is fixed for the Foundation on every watch that is sold. The Foundation’s latest projects are the collaboration with Patagonia Sur in Chile and the restoration of almost five hundred hectares of woodlands at several locations in Scotland and in the United Kingdom. They are busy training biodiversity guards in Ecuador and revitalizing the mangroves in Senegal. They are also in the process of planting trees and supporting practical environmental education in Jaipur, India. Each year, they take on about four to five projects with decent on site results. The very fact that the Corporate Headquarters of the fashion and luxury watch designers are in Switzerland itself solidifies the credibility of many of their projects. They receive news and feedback on their projects even after a decade of giving the support at the initiation.
Restoration of Timepieces at the Repair Workshop
The Audemars Piguet repair workshop strives in restoring timepieces that are over a century old. The person in charge of this workshop, Francisco Pasandin, is looking after a long lost brand of expertise in the making of fashion and luxury watches. The repair workshop of Audemars Piguet handles models that are sometimes designed as far back as 1870. Mr. Pasandin is fluent with almost all kinds of watches. It could be a vintage pocket watch or a watch with an independent seconds’ hand. It could be watches with a jumping seconds’ hand, a minute repeater, a dual time function or a lunation indicator. It could also be a watch with a Reaumur scale with a thermometer with the date and the day of the week. It takes sometimes a hundred to almost three hundred hours to get the antique watches to function again. It will all depend on the damage that the watch has undergone in the hands of some other watchmakers.
The Repair Workshop has a Team of Skilled Watchmakers
The repair workshop of Audemars Piguet has a team that is made up of ten skilled watchmakers. They piece together extremely complex timepieces almost entirely by their hands. Sometimes, it will take a good part of about fifteen to twenty minutes to restore just a screw that has been damaged by a bad screwdriver. It could take quite some time with more than a hundred screws in a pocket watch. That is not taking into consideration the broken pivots, damaged wheels or parts that have been glued into a movement. Sometimes, they have to take the whole thing apart and begin from scratch. This team of skilled fashion and luxury watchmakers has mastered all the processes right from handling various materials to intricately working out the small parts and then applying the finishing touches on the watches. They are using the tools and techniques that were available even a hundred years back. They may be modern but their way of working remains ancestral. The technical knowledge is recorded in notebooks to be handed down to the next generation of watchmakers.