On the im­por­tance of be­ing in­de­pen­dent, the brand’s new en­ergy and the work of the Aude­mars Piguet foun­da­tion.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - Special Feature - Chair­man of the board of Aude­mars Piguet

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.

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