Aude­mars Piguet com­bines its 143-year old legacy with some of to­day’s most im­pres­sive watch­mak­ing in­no­va­tions

Architectural Digest (UAE) - - Contents - WORDS SO­PHIE STEVENS

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In four years the Aude­mars Piguet Royal Oak will cel­e­brate its 50th an­niver­sary. “Usu­ally when you have a birth­day like this you say it is 50 years old,” says CEO François-Henry Ben­nah­mias of the land­mark, “but I be­lieve with the Royal Oak we can say we are 50 years young.” This ethos was ex­em­pli­fied in the watch­maker’s 2018 nov­el­ties un­veiled at the Salon In­ter­na­tional de la Haute Hor­logerie (SIHH) in Jan­uary, where fa­mil­iar col­lec­tion names abounded in new mod­els that com­bine clas­si­cism with a mod­ern edge. No­table ex­am­ples in­clude the Royal Oak Jumbo Ex­traThin, which mea­sures just 8.1mm thick while los­ing none of the charm of Gérald Genta’s orig­i­nal 1972 ver­sion. Mean­while some of the lat­est Mil­lenary women’s mod­els blend tech­ni­cal prow­ess with stun­ning aes­thet­ics, with their par­tially vis­i­ble cal­i­bre 5201 housed next to an opal dial com­plete with a weaved Pol­ish gold bracelet.

De­spite con­tem­po­rary ad­di­tions, it is clear the lat­est mod­els con­tinue ap­peal­ing to tra­di­tional time­piece afi­ciona­dos. “They are icons,” FrançoisHenry ex­plains. “Icons of de­sign and crafts­man­ship that we have pro­tected over the years. That’s what we do at Aude­mars Piguet – bring crafts­man­ship and ta­lent to­gether to pro­vide some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary.”

Prod­uct Di­rec­tor Chadi Nouri and her team fol­low the same path, re­main­ing loyal to the watch­maker’s trade­mark col­lec­tions while con­tin­u­ally in­no­vat­ing.

“Our prod­ucts are con­tem­po­rary, bold and time­less.

We do our best to stay ahead of com­pe­ti­tion by pre­sent­ing de­signs that don’t fol­low what the oth­ers are do­ing,” she says. “We set our own trends and the de­sign codes of our lines are so clear-cut that our watches are in­stantly recog­nis­able from afar.”

The brand’s lim­ited pro­duc­tion – only 40,000 watches are made each year – may be one rea­son why the eye is in­stantly drawn to any Aude­mars-sport­ing wrist. For François-Henry, how­ever, this is one of their key fu­ture chal­lenges. “There are 8 bil­lion peo­ple on the planet,” he says. “Let’s say 20 mil­lion of th­ese are po­ten­tial Aude­mars Piguet cus­tomers… and yet just 40,000 watches ev­ery year. We need to tell our story to more peo­ple, to keep bring­ing our watches be­fore the eyes of the young.”

Chadi’s mis­sion for Aude­mars Piguet is very sim­ple: “To be num­ber 1 in Haute Hor­logerie.” The watch­mak­ers have there­fore achieved a mind-blow­ingly im­pres­sive horo­log­i­cal feat this year with the Royal Oak RD#2 Ul­tra-Thin. Smash­ing all pre­vi­ous records when it was re­vealed at SIHH 2018, the watch proudly claims the ti­tle of the world’s thinnest au­to­matic per­pet­ual cal­en­dar. Thanks to a 6.3mm it is case even slim­mer than the afore­men­tioned Jumbo model. And although the RD#2 is not yet avail­able for sale, it is a clear sym­bol of Aude­mars Piguet’s de­sign phi­los­o­phy, which em­braces the brand’s ori­gins while con­stantly push­ing tech­ni­cal bound­aries. “We do not fol­low tra­di­tional rules,” says Chadi. “Con­stantly im­prov­ing qual­ity, tech­nic­ity, cre­ativ­ity and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence are all key. Our watches will keep on break­ing the rules.” We look for­ward to ad­mir­ing the re­sults.

“We bring crafts­man­ship and ta­lent to­gether to pro­vide some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary”

Aude­mars Piguet un­veiled the Royal Oak Frosted Goldin 2016 to mark the women's Royal Oak 40th an­niver­sary. It is avail­able inboth white and pink gold

CLOCK­WISE FROM FAR LEFT: 1988 open-worked jew­ellery wrist­watch. Case in 18 carat yel­low gold set with 56 di­a­monds; A crafts­men at work; 1929 Tutti Frutti jew­ellery watch with ruby, sap­phire, emer­ald and di­a­monds; 1970 high jew­ellery bracelet watch. 18-carat white gold frame with hand-carved green grossu­lar gar­nets and di­a­mond-set seg­ments

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