In the world of luxury watches, few brands can rival the achievements of Audemars Piguet. Audemars Piguet is a brand with almost 150 years of history and several world firsts when it comes to its watches. It’s also a part of the “Holy Trinity” of luxury watchmakers, along with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
In recent years, Audemars Piguet has gathered a lot of attention and hype due to some excellent watch releases and technical innovations. But, this attention has led to higher prices for Audemars Piguet watches, particularly the most popular models.
This leads to questions like; Should I buy an Audemars Piguet watch or go for another well-known brand like Patek Philippe or Rolex? What makes Audemars Piguet watches unique, and are they worth their prices?
If you want the answers to these questions, keep reading this Audemars Piguet review!
Audemars Piguet History
Audemars Piguet got its name from its two founders, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet. They founded the brand in the Vallée de Joux in 1875, and its current headquarters are in Le Brassus, Switzerland. Audemars Piguet is one of the few high-end luxury watch manufacturers that has maintained its family-owned status since its founding.
The 1970s were a rough time for Swiss luxury watchmaking, as the quartz crisis threatened to destroy the entire industry. Most brands attempted to create affordable timepieces to combat the cheap quartz watches.
However, Audemars Piguet went the other way. The brand partnered with famous watch designer Gérald Genta to create a new type of watch: a luxury sports watch. Thus, the Royal Oak was born in 1972.
The revolutionary design of the Royal Oak skyrocketed the brand’s popularity and established it as one of the top luxury watch manufacturers. It also inspired many other luxury watch brands to follow suit. One of those brands was the prestigious Patek Philippe, which came up with the Nautilus design in 1976.
Audemars Piguet has always been at the forefront of technical innovations and world firsts. It created the first Grand Complication pocket watch in 1899, the first skeletonized pocket watch in 1934, and the first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar complication in 1957. The brand also produces some of the thinnest automatic luxury watches on the market.
How Do You Pronounce Audemars Piguet?
While the name Audemars Piguet might seem tricky to pronounce, it’s actually not as complicated as you think. It’s just not intuitive for most English speakers. Both the brand’s owners were Swiss with French surnames. Therefore, the correct pronunciation for Audemars Piguet is “Oh-duh-mahr pee-geh”.
What Makes Audemars Piguet Special?
Similar to other high-end luxury watch brands, Audemars Piguet watches are expensive. How expensive? To put it in perspective, they are usually more expensive than a Rolex, but not as expensive as some Patek Philippe watches.
Audemars Piguet watches have such a high price due to some factors that make the brand special and highly sought-after. These are:
Audemars Piguet strives to produce timepieces of exceptional quality with both luxury touches and modern innovations. To achieve this, it needs to utilize the best materials possible. The brand crafts its stainless steel and titanium pieces from the highest grade metals available.
Also, Audemars Piguet watches usually come in precious metals like gold or white gold, often with diamonds set into the bezel or even the dial. All these exotic materials increase the watch’s cost significantly.
Audemars Piguet is also an advocate of integrating modern materials into its luxury timepieces. Its Concept watches are often made from materials like ceramic and carbon fiber, which require a lot of research and testing to ensure their reliability, not to mention that they demand unique machinery and production processes.
Alongside its excellent materials, Audemars Piguet pays particular attention to its movements. It’s no secret that Audemars Piguet produces some of the most innovative high-end calibers. In fact, most of the brand’s patents and inventions are for unique calibers.
Some of the brand’s more recent innovations include the first movement from carbon fiber and the thinnest automatic caliber with a perpetual calendar complication.
These research and development efforts require the best personnel, a lot of time, and the investment of huge sums of money. These costs are another reason for the high prices of Audemars Piguet timepieces.
Supply & Demand
Everything mentioned above contributes to Audemar Piguet’s retail prices. However, the actual market prices of Audemars Piguet watches differ significantly compared to its retail ones. For reference, the standard Royal Oak has a retail price of about $20,000, but its secondary market price can easily be three to five times that.
This price discrepancy is due to the low supply and high demand of Royal Oaks and Audemars Piguet watches in general. Audemars Piguet is a brand that prefers quality over quantity and, therefore, releases a limited number of watches annually. This number is approximately 40,000 pieces.
The brand has also had a tremendous rise in popularity over the past few years, partially due to the interest from pop and hip hop artists like John Mayer, Justin Bieber, and Drake. If you combine these two factors, you get watches that are hard to find and cost as much as a small house.
Best Audemars Piguet Watches
If the brand has piqued your interest, here are some of the best Audemars Piguet watches to look out for:
Naturally, this list has to start with the original flagship watch from Audemars Piguet. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak took the world by storm in 1972 and cemented the brand’s position as one of the best luxury watchmakers.
Initially, the Royal Oak came in a 39 mm stainless steel case with the signature octagonal bezel. The modern iteration comes in 41 mm with a few different dial colors and features a “Grande Tapisserie” dial pattern.
Other than stainless steel, you can find the Royal Oak in many different materials, including black ceramic and precious metals such as gold and platinum. The watch features Audemar Piguet’s in-house automatic caliber 4302.
Another popular Royal Oak model is the “Jumbo” Extra-Thin which comes in 39 mm like the original design. Other iterations include Openworked (aka the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Skeleton) versions, self-winding chronographs, and perpetual calendars.
In fact, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in yellow gold is one of the best investment watches, according to famous watch trader Pejman Ghadimi.
Royal Oak Offshore
To celebrate the Royal Oak’s 20th anniversary, Audemars Piguet employed up-and-coming designer Emmanuel Gueit to design a new model. Thus, the Royal Oak Offshore was born in 1993.
The Royal Oak Offshore features the same octagonal design as the Royal Oak but in an overall sportier look. Its case is larger and more robust thanks to materials such as titanium and ceramic. The watch usually comes on a rubber strap rather than a bracelet.
Most Offshore models feature the caliber 4401, an automatic flyback chronograph movement. Also, there are the Offshore Divers models with 300 m of water resistance and an inner rotating bezel.
Royal Oak Concept
The Concept line of watches originally came out in 2002 and has always served as a way for Audemars Piguet to experiment with technical innovations. Some of these watches' designs and technical features even rival those of Richard Mille watches.
Most Royal Oak Concept watches follow the same design cues with large cases from premium materials and high-end movements. The most popular one currently is the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT.
This watch comes with the caliber 2954, an in-house movement with a flying tourbillon, and a GMT complication. It also features a tremendous power reserve of up to 10 days.
Moreover, this model also has a special edition based on the Marvel character Black Panther. This unique timepiece comes in a purple color scheme and features an actual 3D model of the superhero on the dial.
For those who want the brand name and heritage of Audemars Piguet watches but don’t fancy the design of the Royal Oak, the Code 11.59 might be for you. Audemars Piguet surprised the watch world when they released Code 11.59 in 2019.
The watch features a unique case that deviates significantly from the design of the Royal Oak family. It’s a three-piece design, with an octagonal section sandwiched between two circular sections.
The watch’s sapphire crystal is also unique. It has a particular curvature that alters the dial's appearance depending on the viewing angle. There are several dial options, including enamel ones. Also, some models feature a perpetual calendar or a chronograph complication with a tachymeter on the dial.
The First Luxury Sports Watch Brand
Audemars Piguet is one of the best luxury watch brands in the market. Indeed, the brand’s popularity is partially due to it being the first to establish the sports luxury watch with the Royal Oak. But since then, Audemars Piguet has constantly tried to improve and innovate with the best timepieces possible.
This passion for perfection is what drives us at Operandi Firenze to produce the best watch rolls for you. That’s why we choose the best Italian leather for our watch rolls and put them through several rigorous tests to ensure reliability. Consider purchasing one of our watch rolls to store your precious timepieces - especially if you already have a precious Audemars Piguet timepiece in your collection.
So get out there, find your new Audemars Piguet watch, and don’t forget to keep an eye on the time!