Renaissance story: Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet’s latest Royal Oak Offshore Watch (Alinghi Polaris chronograph) is an eye-catching work because, like many Audemars’ recently released products, it has unique features: The regatta countdown mechanism is the company’s way of paying tribute to the American Cup winner Alinghi. It is sponsored. The watch is also equipped with a new movement. From the collector’s point of view, it is more important that these items are produced entirely in-house and produced by one of the last independent watch companies in Switzerland.

Less than 10 years ago, Audemars Piguet was a troubled manufacturer. Its flagship Royal Oak model is more than 20 years old, and the brand is trying to compete with Panerai and other newer, shiny brands. The situation is most severe in the United States, where demand is lagging and the gray market is aggressive, creating a vicious circle of discounts, weakening collectors’ confidence in the brand founded by Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet in Le Brassus, Switzerland in 1875. In the late 1990s, there were rumors that Audemars Piguet, one of the so-called three traditional manufacturers (together with replica Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin) was about to be acquired by a luxury goods group. However, on the contrary, Audemars Piguet funded its resurrection by obtaining funds from one of them.

In the late 1990s, Audemars Piguet’s main assets included 40% ownership of neighboring manufacturer Jaeger-LeCoultre, which has become the subject of fierce bidding in 1999. When Compagnie Financière Richemont finally took control of Jaeger, Audemars gave up a windfall worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Audemars Piguet best used the money to expand its own movement manufacturing capacity, bringing in the production of many movements previously purchased from Jaeger-LeCoultre and other suppliers. It also bought a controlling stake in the complex professional house Renaud et Papi. Therefore, Audemars Piguet has raised its position among watch connoisseurs who value both innovation and authenticity in complex timepieces. The company also took unprecedented steps to buy out distribution in the United States and other major markets, thereby curbing the flow of transshipment and discount watches. Destroy its image. Coincidentally, the revitalization of Audemars Piguet has been synchronized with the growing popularity of brawny sports watches. This trend is very suitable for the company’s updated Royal Oak Offshore series.

George-Henri Meylan, CEO of Audemars Piguet, said: “Independence is not just about controlling our shares.” “It maintains control of our products and production without relying on large groups. In this way, we not only guarantee our independence for the next few years. , And it also guarantees the independence of the next generation.” Review watches cheap