Considered along with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin to be a member of the “big three” Swiss watchmakers, Audemars Piguet is the oldest fine watchmaking institution to have never left the control of their founders’ families. This allows a great deal of independence and rigor not often seen in the industry, freeing them up to follow their own vision rather than simply follow the pack.
- 1892 – Created and produced the world’s first minute repeater wristwatch
- 1915 – Produced the smallest-ever five-minute repeater calibre
- 1921 – The first jumping-hour wristwatch
- 1925 – Thinnest-ever pocket watch – just 1.32 mm
- 1934 – First skeleton watch
- 1946 – World’s thinnest wristwatch
- 1967 – Thinnest self-winding calibre with a central rotor
- 1972 – Royal Oak, world’s first stainless steel luxury watch
- 1978 – First self-winding ultra-thin perpetual calendar wristwatch
- 1986 – First ultra-thin self-winding tourbillion wristwatch
- 1989 – Smallest self-winding perpetual calendar wristwatch
- 2008 – First watch with a carbon case and movement
The Royal Oak – The Most Disruptive and Innovative Watch in 200 Years
In the midst of the “Quartz Crisis” and on the eve of bankruptcy, Audemars Piguet realized that without a disruptive, fresh change, their decline was inevitable. Georges Golay, the managing director at the time, contacted world-famous designer Gerald Genta at 4PM explaining that the company needed a design for an “unprecedented steel watch” by the following morning.
Gerald Genta delivered and invented what he called the masterpiece of his career.
Rejected by traditionalists at the time, the watch was expensive and met with ridicule, but trendsetters adopted the watch for its different and functional design, propelling it into a market unto its own. The Royal Oak won over the audience and became a huge success for Audemars Piguet, continually achieving high marks and sales for the company to this day. Ambassadors for the line include Leo Messi, LeBron James and Nick Faldo.