facebook twitter pinterest instagram You Tube
<< Back to Robb Report, August 2013

Luxury's 25 Most Innovative Brands: Audemars Piguet

James D. Malcolmson

Not long after the 40th anniversary of Audemars Piguet’s flagship Royal Oak model—an occasion the watchmaker celebrated in 2012 with various galas, the introduction of special models, and a global exhibition—another milestone is being observed, though with much less fanfare. The company released the Royal Oak Offshore in 1993, and that addition to the line not only changed the way Audemars Piguet—and its many imitators—designed watches, but also altered men’s taste in timepieces for the next two decades.

Although the Royal Oak Offshore’s dimensions are commonplace today, at the time of its unveiling, the timepiece seemed almost absurdly large. Yet the watch’s proportions, which were meant to convey robustness and durability, proved to be an irresistible draw (especially when rendered in gold) for many young buyers whose style sensibilities were not satisfied by the more discreet Swiss designs then prevalent. Audemars Piguet reinforced this interest by releasing a number of limited editions that personified the bold spirit that customers associated with the large design. Further brand awareness was cultivated by such high-profile clients as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jay-Z, whose enthusiasm for these timepieces helped to make them among the most collectible examples of the last 20 years.

The creation of these innovative Royal Oak Offshore editions also had a lasting impact on the culture of Audemars Piguet. In 2003, under the direction of then-CEO George-Henri Meylan, company designers were asked to incorporate a number of new features and materials into a version for Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya. “The complexity of the design forced us to work much more closely with the technical office than we had previously,” recalls Octavio Garcia, the company’s chief artistic officer. “We shared computer files directly with them and engaged in a new design approach based on details.” That same process gave rise to other complicated timepieces, such as the Tradition of Excellence Cabinet #5 and the Millenary MC12, whose unique combination of artistry and precision engineering inspired the industry at large. 212.688.6644, www.audemarspiguet.com

Read Next Article >>
The new Graham Tourbillon Orrery celebrates the 300th anniversary of the Orrery, the tabletop...
The first in a series of three limited editions, the Bugatti Mythe helps celebrate the companies’...
The timepiece includes design elements inspired by the iconic vehicles…
The new wristwatch is the first in the world to include only Fairmined-certified gold…
The new watch features an elegant grand feu enamel dial…
With form to match their function, these new timepieces are both fashion accessories and underwater...
Photo by Tino Hammid
A special exhibition spotlights one of the world’s rarest gems…
The perfect travel companion, the watch can display the time in two separate time zones…
The famed 1925 pocket watch once owned by Henry Graves is the most complicated timepiece ever built...
The new timepieces are equipped with tourbillon movements just 2.97 mm thick…