Audemars Piguet combines its 143-year old legacy with some of today’s most impressive watchmaking innovations
Sharjah-based fashion Reema Al Banna’s colourful creations are making waves around the world
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