On the importance of being independent, the brand’s new energy and the work of the Audemars Piguet foundation.
ESQUIRE: Audemars Piguet has a relatively new CEO, would you say it is going through a period of transition?
JASMINE AUDEMARS: François [Henry Bennahmias] of AP has worked with us for many years and he has a view of the fantastic things we can do. He is a very dynamic person, full of enthusiasm and passion and love. The whole company feels that change and François is giving a new dynamism to the company.
ESQ: Have you ever felt that the mark was in danger of becoming old, and no longer relevant?
JA: No, I never felt that because we have always had products that are both faithful to the tradition of AP and just as innovative. Thanks to the Royal Oak line we have stayed current; at the same time we have classic models that show the true tradition of haute horlogerie we’ve respected for decades.
ESQ: Isn’t it risky depending just on Royal Oak?
JA: Every brand needs a strong model, but at the same time you are right: Maybe AP have not invested much time to remind people that we have other models and we have a vast history of round, square, classic watches. We are already working on it. Perhaps the problem is that we got carried away by the success of Royal Oak, but now we want to stabilise things. We are developing new lines of product.
ESQ: Can you explain how watchmakers survived the quartz crisis?
JA: I think the renaissance of the mechanical watch, with all the knowledge and skill behind the creation of mechanisms, was due. Finally, it made people interested, because it is unique. A movement is alive, you can see it only on one side, and that’s what attracts people. Although you may not fully understand what is happening in the watch on your wrist, you know it carries something that beats like a heart. It is used not just to tell the time ( you can get that on your phone), but because it is a beautiful object. At least that is what we seek: The watch is beautiful inside and out.
ESQ: What do you need to be a successful independent company ?
JA: There are two things. The first is that you have passion for the brand, and second you need to have the means to maintain your independence. So best be determined and passionate, but also very serious about the business.
ESQ: Has AP struggled to defend its independence?
JA: Sometimes brands would come with the intention [to buy] but we do not want to sell. This has been the same since 1865 and we want to continue that way for at least the next 200 years.
ESQ: As a foundation, AP is very discreet about what it is doing…
JA: The foundation is not a marketing tool. We do have a website where you can see what we do. It is a foundation, it is not just something to brag about. The foundation is funded by AP and depends on the growth of the brand. A percentage of the sale of watches goes to the foundation. Thanks to the advancement of the company, we have more and more resources for the foundation, which is very good.
ESQ: What is the most important project that the foundation is active in now?
JA: We have projects in Africa, Brazil, Ecuador and India, among other places. In Brazil we are funding accessible beehives for honey that people do not have to cut the trees for, which is what I usually do.