Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet (AP) is a manufacturer of prestige Swiss watches which compete with Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin.

The roots of Audemars Piguet date back to 1874, when the 23-year-old Jules-Louis Audemars met Edward-Auguste Piguet, then only 21, at Vallée de Joux, which is considered to be the cradle of prestige watch-making. Their hometown was Le Brassus. When they graduated from school they went to Vallée de Joux to start working in their favorite field of watch manufacturing.

Thus Audemars started producing component parts for movements and Piguet got the job of a repasseur, whose job it was to make the final regulation of the timepiece. In 1875 they founded a firm later known as Audemars, Piguet et Cie.

Since 1882, members of the Audemars and Piguet families have always been on the board of directors and have thus directly or indirectly run the company.

 Royal Oak Offshore watch by Audemars Piguet

The business started with Audemars managing the production and technical part and Piguet focusing on sales, and success was not immediate. The Audemars Piguet trademark was registered in 1882, however it would be seven years later that the company was officially founded. At this point Audemars Piguet et Cie became one of the largest employers for watch-making in the whole of Vaud, southwestern Switzerland.

The company opened its first branch in Geneva in 1889, and began creating its own components and assembling within its factory with direct supervision and strict quality control.

Between 1894 and 1899 the company produced about 1,200 timepieces, including some very complex watches. When Audemars and Piguet died, in 1918 and 1919 respectively, the company steadily grew and became more famous. As the success of the company's business was rising its customers became Tiffany & Co, Cartier and Bulgari, who rebranded and sold Audemars Piguet watches under their own house names. Today these watches are only identifiable as Audemars Piguet products by their serial numbers.

Later Audemars Piguet launched several watches like the smallest minute repeater in the world and a jumping second hand (i.e. the second hand jumps from second to second in quanta rather than progressively) pocket watch. In 1925 Audemars Piguet introduced the world's thinnest pocket watch, at 1.32 millimeters. Only three years later the company created the first skeleton watch.

At the end of 1920s and the beginning of 1930s the success of Audemars Piguet started dimming. The crash of the stock market as well as the Depression slowed the development of many Swiss companies.

During World War II the manufacturer was able to come back on the market by producing one of its well-known models – an ultra-thin chronograph, the heart of which was Calibre 2003. The sales of Audemars Piguet started growing in the forties and fifties. Together with Jaeger-LeCoultre it designed the thinnest automatic movement. The latter included a 21 carat gold rotor placed in the center. Their "Royal Oak", which uses a custom Jaeger-leCoultre movement, was produced in 1972 and is considered to have created the market for the stainless steel luxury watch. It was designed by Gerald Genta.

 Perpetual calendar moon phases with thin automatic movement

Today the company, along with Patek Philippe, Jaeger-leCoultre and Vacheron Constantin, is sometimes claimed to be one of the top four Swiss watchmakers. Every timepiece manufactured in-house is still made using the old-fashioned hand-made technique.

The Audemars Piguet watch group is composed of 1,100 employees, fourteen distribution subsidiaries and sixteen boutiques around the world. It comprises three production sites: Le Brassus (SA de la Manufacture d'Horlogerie Audemars Piguet & Cie), LeLocle (Audemars Piguet: Renaud et Papi SA) and Meyrin (Center SA).

The manufacture Audemars Piguet produces 26,000 timepieces per year.

Since 1999, Audemars Piguet has been the sponsor of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, a Group One Thoroughbred horse race in Hong Kong, New Territories, China.

In 2007, Audemars Piguet offered its support to the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation works around the world on global issues, including education, health, poverty issues, and fight against HIV/AIDS. The company created the Jules Audemars Clinton Foundation Equation of Time watch in a limited edition of 126 pieces. The watch incorporated complex astronomical features. It shows sunrise and sunset times, perpetual calendar and astronomical moon.

Audemars Piguet was a sponsor of Team Alignhi, winners of the America's Cup in 2003, making a series of Alinghi limited edition watches.

 Star Wheel. Hours on sapphire disks

Like many other brands of luxury watches, Audemars Piguet has a number of ambassadors, such as Indonesian-French singer Anggun, Tennis Player Novak Djokovic, Indian Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, Formula One racecar driver Michael Schumacher, Argentinean footballer Lionel Messi, professional Basketball player LeBron James and Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, as well personalities and teams in different sport categories such as cricket, softball, golf, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke,Rory McIlroy, Miguel Angel Jiminez, Anthony Kim, skiing, motor sports and sailing.

Special Editions
Audemars Piguet has made a number of special and limited edition watches for celebrities and athletes. They include Sachin Tendulkar, Rubens Barrichello, Jarno Trulli, Quincy Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Shaquille O'Neal and Jay-Z.

In media
In the HBO series, Entourage, Ari Gold receives an Audemars Piguet watch as a promotional gift from John Ellis, the fictional chairman of the parent company that owns Universal Pictures. Ellis describes it as "possibly, the finest timepiece known to man". From Season 6 onwards, Eric Murphy wears an AP.

In the movie Quick Change, starring Bill Murray, one of the hostages offers up a Audemars Piguet watch in hopes of being the next person to be released. Bill Murray trades him his Timex with a Twist-o-Flex band by Speidel, plus $300.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore T3 was featured in the movie Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

The 2010 Swedish House Mafia single "Miami 2 Ibiza", featuring Tinie Tempah, opens with the lyric "She says she likes my watch, but she wants Steve's AP", referencing the fact that Angello wears an Audemar Piguet Royal Oak Offshore wristwatch.

Referenced to in rap artist Jay-Z's song "Off That".

Audemars Piguet is mentioned in two sections of Beyoncé's song Upgrade U. First, in the chorus, " Partner, Lemme upgrade u, Audemars Piguet u," and in Jay-Z's rap verse.

It's also referenced by rapper Rick Ross in DJ Khaled's "Welcome to my Hood". The lyric is "Audemar on my wrist.."

It's also referenced by Meek Mills, in Maybach Music Groups, "Ima Boss." The lyric is "Audemar on my wrist..."

It is also referenced by rapper Lil Wayne in "Marvin Room's (Remix)". The lyrics are “I told her “Sorry 4 The Wait”, I value her time like an Audemars-Piguet”

In the 2011 movie The Mechanic, the first victim of the protagonist Bishop is lured into a deep side of a pool by an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore.