When it comes to well-made luxury watches, no one outdoes the Swiss. For over a Century, Swiss watchmakers have been known for their beautiful designs, precise time-telling, and ingenuity in watchmaking advancements.
Taking a look at the history of watchmaking, and in particular the culture and history of Audemars Piguet, we learned some interesting things to pass along to you. Decades of trial and error, World Wars and timely advances have created the world of Swiss watches as we know it.
How Swiss Watches Came to Dominate the Market for Luxury Watches
While the Germans have credit for creating the first watch small enough to wear, the Nuremberg egg by Peter Henlein, Swiss watchmakers have dominated the market for nearly 150 years.
After the Nuremberg egg and similar pendant watches became available to the public, the Germans and Dutch continued to develop and grow their watchmaking practices to a fine art. For nearly 300 years, they outdid the other watchmakers of the world, including the Swiss.
As advancements moved the industry forward, British watchmakers, like James Cox and George Graham, began to dominate the watchmaking industry in the 18th Century. These advancements by the British laid the groundwork for today’s modern mechanical watches so praised by luxury watchmakers and owners the world over.
Things began to change when a Swiss boy named Abraham Louis-Breguet moved to Paris to study watchmaking in 1762. Breguet became the leading watchmaker of his day, and created the first actual wristwatch nearly a century before they became standard.
A few short years later, in 1770, Frenchman Jean-Antoine Lepine simplified the movement, or caliber, used in pocket watches, which enabled pocket watches to streamline down to a thin, manageable watch.
The current fashion trends of Europe in the late 1770s had transitioned from bulkier attire down to slim lines and more tailored looks. This meant that this thin pocket watch was much more suitable to the fashionable than the bulky watches that would have bulged in pockets.
At this point, the Swiss began making lower-quality watches that resembled the finer, English watches that the rest of the world was anxious to receive. Between 1860 and 1880, the Swiss flooded the burgeoning American watch market with cheap watches. Because of this overwhelming amount of watches, the Swiss briefly took lead in the industry.
By the time the 1900s hit, however, the Swiss began creating finer watches and selling them for a median price to compete more profitably with the other watchmakers of the world.
After World War II, the Swiss could offer quality watches to the American marketplace, since they were not preoccupied with creating munitions like the Americans. This gave the Swiss a strong advantage over many other watchmakers in the world.
This quality, focus, and advancement has only improved and empowered the Swiss watchmaking industry into the present-day marketplace.
A Brief History of Audemars Piguet Swiss Watches
One of most famous Swiss watchmakers is the Audemars Piguet company. The Audemars Piguet Watch company came to life in 1875 when Jules Louis Audemars and Edward August Piguet formed a partnership using their skills to develop watches of the finest quality and complexity.
One of the significant achievements of the Audemars Piguet partnership was the creation of the first repeater wristwatch. They released this piece of horological ingenuity in 1892.
Audemars Watch Collections
Audemars Piguet is considered one of the trinity of watchmakers that outrank the rest of the world. Standing alongside them are Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, both Swiss watchmakers as well. These brands are known for their precision, excellence, long-lasting quality, and beauty.
The Audemars Piguet collections offer models in various materials, such as platinum, yellow gold, pink gold, stainless steel, white gold, titanium, ceramic, and various other precious metals and materials. Some of the collections offer unique, rule-breaking designs, particularly the Haute Joaillerie collection with unusual designs and concepts.
- Royal Oak – The original watch line offered by Audemars Piguet.
- Royal Oak Concept – A spin off design from the classic Royal Oak line.
- Royal Oak Offshore – The sporty chronograph line coming out of the traditional Royal Oak collection.
- Millenary – Featuring contemporary “naked” designs which display the watch components for viewing while they work.
- Jules Audemars – An homage to one of the founders of the Audemars Piguet watch company, this collection features complications that the company brought to advancing the industry.
- Haute Joaillerie – Unique, off-the-beaten-path designs for the adventurous and unique watch collector.
- Classique – Two classically designed pocket watches with various complications.
The Highest Quality, Highest Value Watches: Audemars Piguet
An Audermars Piguet, or AP watch, will certainly set you back a little. But if you’re looking for the finest quality Swiss made watches available, this watchmaker won’t disappoint. The precision, beauty, and distinct quality of each watch makes them well worth the investment.
Feature image via Robb Report