More recently, Audemars Piguet has produced some of their most technically impressively timepieces with their ‘Tradition’ collection. Drawing on the cushion-shaped pocket watch designs of the past, the range includes perpetual calendars, tourbillon chronographs and Grande Complications, as well as an ultra thin selection of dress models. The company built a reputation for inventiveness when they unveiled the first minute repeater wristwatch in 1892, and went on to pioneer the jumping seconds hand pocket watch and the first ever skeleton watch. Their most characteristic creation, the extraordinary Royal Oak, was designed by legendary stylist Gérald Genta in 1972. Taking its inspiration from vintage diving helmets, with eight visible screws on the unorthodox octagonal bezel, the Royal Oak has come to define the brand and its identity-striking, unconventional and iconic.
AUDEMARS PIGUET HISTORY
The brand got its start in 1875 in Le Brassus, Switzerland, when Jules-Louis Audemars had just finished his training to become a watch repasseur, or inspector. It was here, in the Vallée de Joux – world-renowned for Swiss watch innovations and manufacturing – that they began building the company on his keen attention to detail. Edward-Auguste Piguet, a childhood friend and a fellow repasseur, joined the company a few years later 1881, giving the company its now famous name – Audemars Piguet & Cie.
From the start, they have been about defying convention, pushing innovation forward and creating mechanical masterpieces. Some of their first work consisted of intricate pocket watches which featured perpetual calendar, minute repeater, and chronograph function. Still relatively new to the scene, in 1889 their “Grande Complication” pocket watch won a medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. And by 1891, the brand had built the world’s smallest movement with a minute repeater – clocking in at just 18mm. To this day, it is still the smallest minute repeated on the planet.
At the end of the 1800’s, the company was also amongst the first watchmakers to dip their toes into wristwatches, something exceedingly modern for the time. Moving into the next century, they kept innovation up. In 1915, they manufactured the smallest 5-minute repeater at just 15.8mm. In 1934 they created the first skeletonized pocket watch and in 1946 the thinnest wrist watch. By 1957 they had introduced the first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar and 1967 the thinnest self-winding calibre with a central rotor. Amidst the quartz crisis in 1972, they turned the watch world on its head by introducing the Royal Oak, the world’s first luxury sports watch. Since, they’ve continued to impress the watch world with innovations like the Royal Oak RD#2 introduced in 2018. Measuring in at 6.3 mm thick, it’s the world’s flattest automatic watch with a perpetual calendar.
HOW MUCH DOES AUDEMARS PIGUET WATCHES COST?
The cost of an Audemars Piguet watch greatly depends on the collection, specific model and even alloy differences and special edition pieces. But, AP is well-known for having some of the most expensive Swiss timepieces on the market. Across their 7 collections, prices quickly soar from the teens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Here, we have estimated prices for each collection.
- Code 11.59 — from $26,800 to $295,000
- Royal Oak — from 19,344 to $741,600
- Royal Oak Offshore — from $21,100 to $145,000+
- Royal Oak Concept — $172,500+
- Millenary — $24,500+
- Haute Joaillerie — $500,000+
- Jules Audemars — $20,000+
AUDEMARS PIGUET COLLECTIONS
Audemars Piguet has seven distinct watch collections, each with their own specific models and variations within that. Here, we have set out to describe each collections history, mechanical specs and aesthetic differences, as well as highlight the specific models.
What AP calls ‘classic by nature, unconventional by design,’ the new Code 11.59 collection was launched in 2019 as the brand’s first new collection in two decades. Code 11.59 is a contemporary, unisex dress watch with sporty undertones. Round — and a bit unconventional for a brand famous for an octagonal case — AP has managed to weave in this famous shape in the middle of the case, only visible from the side. All watches are 41mm, have openworked lugs, and feature a highly integrated double curved, domed, glare-proof sapphire crystal. Alongside six separate models, they also introduced several new in-house compilations including the self-winding flying tourbillon 2950, self-winding calibre 4302 and the self-winding flyback chronograph 4400.
CODE 11.59 MODELS
- Code 11.59 Selfwinding
- Code 11.59 Selfwinding Chronograph
- Code 11.59 Perpetual Calendar
- Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openworked
- Code 11.59 Minute Repeater Supersonnerie
- Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon
With a steel octagonal bezel outfitted with screws, tapisserie dial and integrated bracelet, the unique Royal Oak isn’t just an icon for the company, but within the industry as a whole. Introduced in 1972, the mechanical, modern and striking Royal Oak was the antithesis of the cheap, mass-market quartz watches flooding the market. It not only revolutionized AP as a brand, but breathed new life into what everyone thought was the dying art of mechanical watchmaking.
The Royal Oak is, in essence, a sports watch. And, because of its iconic design, it was the first luxury stainless steel sports watch. And with the introduction of precious stones and metals, the Royal Oak has secured its spot as a dress watch, too. Today, there are 13 different Royal Oak models, each with the same essence of the original but improved upon with killer mechanical advances, new calibres and aesthetic upgrades.
ROYAL OAK MODELS
- Openworked Grande Complication
- Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked
- Minute Repeater Supersonnerie
- Selfwinding 37mm
- Selfwinding Chronograph
- Tourbillon Extra-Thin
- Perpetual Calendar
- Perpetual Calendar Openworked
- Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
- Jumbo Extra-Thin
- Double Balance Wheel Openworked
ROYAL OAK OFFSHORE
In 1993, twenty years after the first Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet introduced the even-sportier, masculine and powerful Royal Oak Offshore. Built on the same aesthetic fundamentals like the octagonal case, iconic case screws, tapisserie dial and integrated bracelet, the Royal Oak Offshore has amped up features. You’ll notice differences like a larger 42mm case, professional push pieces and pronounced guards, a ‘Mega’ or larger tapisserie pattern on the dial, and a pin-buckle clasp instead of the AP folding clasp. Today, the Royal Oak Offshore collection features seven models ranging from traditional stainless steel to rose gold and famously features bright, unusual and punchy colors.
- Tourbillon Chronograph
- Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked
- Selfwinding Chronograph
- Grande Complication
- Diver Chronograph
ROYAL OAK CONCEPT
The Royal Oak Concept collection is built upon the same aesthetics of the original Royal Oak but in a modern, and almost futuristic, way. Royal Oak Concept watches all have the famous Royal Oak octagonal case, but they’ve forgone the integrated metal bracelet for rubber and leather bands. Instead of a tapisserie patterned dial, the Royal Oak Concept also features entirely or partially opened worked faces. These watches are considerably larger, too, clocking in at 44mm and 38.5mm for the women’s watches. Additionally, these watches have been upgraded with new materials like ceramic and innovative polishing and finishing techniques for a truly unique look and contemporary feel. There are just three models of the Royal Oak Concept. But each offering at least two aesthetic variations.
- Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked Selfwinding
- Concept Flying Tourbillon GMT
- Concept Flying Tourbillon
In keeping with their unconformity in shape and design, the company introduced the off-centered dial, elliptical cased Millenary. Released in 1995, just before the new millennium, the modern design of the 39.5mm Millenary oozed with both contemporary and neo-classical lines, making it an instant-classic. Of course, AP paired their new dress watch with an innovative movement as well, the 4101. In both of their Millenary models, you’ll also find incredible technical complexity in the aesthetics, whether it’s the design of the dial or the setting of diamonds or an openwork face.
- Millenary Hand-Wound
- Millenary Frosted Gold Philosophique
Known for their impeccable craftsmanship and ingenuity, the brands glamorous Haute Joaillerie line is emblematic of just how far, and beautifully, their imagination can stretch. These pieces are about making a visual statement, pairing reliable and light quartz calibres alongside high-impact, dazzling displays of diamonds and gems in haute-couture settings. As AP puts it, this line breaks the rules ‘technically and creatively’ with four distinctly unique and luxurious models.
HAUTE JOAILLERIE MODELS
- Haute Joaillerie Sapphire Orbe
- Haute Joaillerie Diamond Punk
- Haute Joaillerie Diamond Fury
- Haute Joaillerie Diamond Outrage
With a simple, classic and sometimes vintage aesthetic, the Jules Audemars collection is dedicated to one of the company’s original founders, Jules-Louis Audemars. Jules was a pioneer in the watch world, helping launch the company to fame and fortune with incredible dedication to the art of mechanical calibres while having the innovative outlook to create such an enduring legacy. This collection pays homage to Jules with a more traditional aesthetic based very much on what would have been the norm at the time — unlike their famous Royal Oak. Within this collection there are eight different models ranging from 28mm to 42mm and with a wide variety of aesthetic differences – from rose gold and metal bands to diamond-encrusted bezels, stainless steel cases and openwork faces. There is seemingly a Jules Audemars dress watch for everyone.
JULES AUDEMARS MODELS
- Grande Complication
- Extra Thin
- Tourbillon Openworked
- Tourbillon Openworked Chronograph
- Sonnerie Carillon
- Small Seconds 33mm
- Small Seconds 28mm
OTHER AUDEMARS PIGUET MODELS
CLASSIC STAINLESS STEEL SELF-WINDING
This is the classic, iconic reference that comes to the mind of just about every collector when they hear the name. And if we’re going to get really specific, the Royal Oak Self Winding with the blue dial is the real fan-favorite. It essentially has a cult following.
This model has all the classic elements you’d expect of a Royal Oak – a 41mm stainless steel octagonal case with visible screws and an integrated stainless steel bracelet with a folding clasp. The dial is blue “Grande Tapisserie” pattern outfitted with white gold applied hour-markers and Royal Oak hands that are also coated with luminescence for easy reading. Inside ticks — of course — a self winding calibre with 280 parts and 60-hour power reserve. It’s an efficient and comfortable watch, boasting water resistance up to 50m and a decent case thickness at 9.8mm. But, the desirability doesn’t come from this, but rather its iconic looks.
REVOLUTIONARY PERPETUAL CALENDAR ULTRA-THIN
The Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is the world’s thinnest automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch. Released in 2018, it is Audemar Piguet’s latest technological milestone – creating the Calibre 5133 that’s just 2.89mm thick and housing it within a 41mm case that’s just 6.3mm thick. To get this thin, they had to redesign the calibre entirely, moving the movement’s perpetual calendar functions from three different levels into a single, flatter layer.
To match the thinned out and modernized aesthetics, AP forged this watch out of 950 platinum and titanium, quite different than their traditional stainless and gold Royal Oaks. What also sets this watch apart is the redefined dial design, blue and satin-brushed, with white gold applied hour markers, the traditional Royal Oak hands, as well as three subdials (month, date, and day) and a moonphase.
EXCITING ROYAL OAK OFFSHORE DIVER FUNKY COLORS
The Royal Oak Diver is another fan favorite, but the Funky Colors collection has really made a splash amongst collectors. This watch, which was first released in 2010, gained immense popularity for its beloved but exaggerated Royal Oak features.
Modern iterations have the case clocking in at a chunkier 42mm with 14.10mm thickness to support 300m water resistance. There’s also that inner diving bezel, chunkier hour markers and hands (still outfitted in gold) as well as the “Méga Tapisserie” dial pattern. Functionally, this self winding watch helps divers timeout dives and also displays the date – that’s thanks to a calibre with 280 parts, 60-hour power reserve and 3.00hz frequency.
But what collectors love about the Diver just makes them love Funky Colors more. It’s even more exaggerated version of the watch, featuring, well, funky colors like purple, turquoise, khaki green and creme on the dials, rubber bracelets and pushers. The watch is sporty and functional, but also packs a ton of personality, especially with these colorful models, making it highly desirable amongst collectors.
AUDEMARS PIGUET PARTNERSHIPS
Audemars Piguet watches are beloved by the world’s rich and famous, including celebrities. But, there are only a select few who the brand has actually partnered with to represent their brand. Currently, one of them is the prolific tennis player Serena Williams, as well as Stanislas Wawrinka, an elite tennis player in his own right. Exclusive, AP says they like to work with people who share their same love of creativity and independence.
The company also partners with many different organizations and cultural institutions that share these same passions. These range from Art Basel to forest conservation efforts through their own foundation and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as well as the sponsorship of golf events which they say share the same precision and elegance as their watches.
AUDEMARS PIGUET BUYING GUIDE
AP is one of those exclusive watchmakers that hasn’t gone totally digital. Holding onto their exclusivity, you can’t buy one on their website, nor can you see the price. To get your hands on one and to get the retail price, you’ll have to find an authorized dealer or go to an Audemars Piguet boutique yourself.
Audemars Piguet watches are much easier to track down on the second-hand market, though. Here, you will find that authorized, certified and trusted dealers price their watches openly online. This allows you to shop for everything from lightly-used previously-owned Audemars Piguet watches to full-on vintage models.