Bazaar finds out why the latest Millenary from Audemars Piguet is the watch every thinking woman needs on her wrist this holiday
“WOMEN LOVE JEWELLERY THEY UNDERSTAND IT, BUT THEIR INTER EST IN MECHANICAL WATCHES IS ON THE RISE” Chadi Nouri
Gone are the days when a dash of diamonds and gold passed for the sophisticated woman’s watch, the latest female timepiece collections are blending stunning aesthetics with some serious technical punch. Joining this growing portfolio is the new Millenary model from Audemars Piguet, with its woven “Polish” gold bracelet and off-centred opal dial juxtaposed against the partially visible calibre 4101. “Women love jewellery, they understand it, but their interest in mechanical watches is on the rise,” Chadi Nouri, product director at the Swiss luxury watchmakers, tells Bazaar. “With this in mind, we decided to dedicate this Millenary collection to women, and developed a tailored back-to-front movement which took us five years to accomplish. This specially designed movement is impeccably tailored to the oval shape of the case, which is ergonomic and sits perfectly on the wrist.”
The Millenary was first unveiled at this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva, part of a busy 2018 for the brand alongside the introduction of their 300-piece limited edition ‘Frosted Gold’ Royal Oak with its silver-toned dial. Both models are clearly responding to this growing female collector market, a position that Audemars Piguet is enthusiastically embracing with Chadi at the helm.
“In today’s world – and especially at Audemars Piguet – women are encouraged to connect with their inner self,” reflects Chadi. “It’s certainly where my thoughts and plans come from. I stay true to my creative mind and suggest new ideas on a regular basis, whether it’s for the women’s collections or any other product line.”
She’s certainly the right woman for the job, having risen through the ranks of Cartier to oversee both its High Jewellery and Jewellery categories in Switzerland before joining Audemars Piguet in 2015. “These experiences triggered my passion for jewellery and watches as an entity, how they are conceived, built, communicated and sold,” she explains.
“Chadi talks to all the watchmakers and challenges them,” observes Jasmine Audemars, chairwoman of the board of directors at her family’s company and great-granddaughter of the brand’s co-founder, JulesLouis Audemars. “I think by working with women as product managers it alters things. The watchmakers start to adopt a different view and change their minds… although don’t tell them that!”
While Jasmine’s own professional background lies in journalism – she spent 12 years as editor-in-chief of Le Temps in Geneva – she returned to the watchmaker’s home in Le Brassus in 1992 to succeed her father as head of the board, bringing some key career lessons with her. “It’s all about people in both,” she says of journalism and high watchmaking. “You need talent and passion in each industry, as well as patience.”
Patience is the theme of Jasmine’s future vision for watchmaking, in which she would like to see even more women interested in mechanical watches with complications. “It started a few years ago,” she explains. “We talk to a lot of women and find that they are really interested in mechanical watches, which is something rather new.” Jasmine cites female entrepreneurs as a strong example: “They are very independent and you can see how interested they are in different watches. I think that’s where we have really big potential.”
Both Jasmine and Chadi agree that the Millenary is the model most relevant to today’s Middle East market where they also see a strong demand for special orders. “Several of our top collectors are based in the Middle East,” shares Jasmine. “The collectors we meet are passionate and know watches so well – they are particularly interested in the history and roots of the brand and where it comes from. They discuss design with our watchmakers on an equal level, which is completely fascinating. Some of them have several hundred Audemars Piguet, always wanting the latest model.”
Knowledge and craftsmanship appear to be the survival buffers of the luxury watchmaking industry against the recent advance of the accessible smart watch. Chadi is quick to explain why: “If you consider that a piece of high horology is in fact a piece of mechanical art (that also happens to give time) the statement that everyone has a mobile phone or a smart watch is irrelevant. Centuries of knowhow, of constant research of perfection – both mechanical and aesthetical – hundreds of hours of human work… These cannot become irrelevant simply because you can read time differently. Consider our watches more as a Giacometti or a Dalí; a work of art that you wear on your wrist and not on your wall.”
As the final countdown begins to 2019, it’s clear that the Millenary is the timepiece to impress in the New Year. For now, at least, smart watches appear to be firmly off the holiday wish list.