Audemars Piguet - TRADITION
Luc Virginius / Chronopassion
Audemars Piguet - TRADITION

TRADITION

Audemars Piguet

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EXTRA THIN AUTOMATIC WATCHE TRADITIONExclusive AP ultra-thin self-winding Calibre 2120 Casing-diameter: 12½ lignes (28.00 mm) 36 jewels 214 parts Power reserve: up to 40 hours Platinum case

Technical specifications

Who's who

Audemars Piguet is above all a family story. Over the centuries, the company’s management has always included at least one descendant of distinguished founders Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet. In spite of the crises it has been through, in particular the 1929 Great Depression, which severely impacted the luxury industry, the Manufactory has never stopped producing watches. It was however because of a completely different kind of crisis, in the wake of the discovery of quartz, that Audemars Piguet created one of its major timepieces. And Laurent Picciotto became a part of the “AP” history thanks to another family story... “I had just turned 12 when my father took me to see the first example of this incredible watch, soon after its arrival at Place Vendôme. I could see that he was fascinated by this object, stunned by Gérald Genta’s incredible design. I was rooted to the spot, understanding that a whole new dimension of watchmaking had just been discovered.” The timepiece in question was the Royal Oak, and the new watchmaking dimension was the luxury sports watch. It was 1972, and in his mind’s eye Laurent Picciotto can still see what held his awestruck gaze as a child: “a completely new case shape, an integrated strap – sports luxury of a new kind. I couldn’t get it out of my mind for a long time.” It is true that the Manufactory originally became a part of the history of watchmaking through complications rather than as a result of bleeding-edge creative design. The first watches with complications were delivered in Germany as early as 1895! The road to luxury watchmaking was already marked out, if not yet well worn. In 1915, Audemars Piguet presented the Grande Complication series, with no fewer than 400 watches. This was the age of pocket watches; the number of lines in this type of caliber gave plenty of space for all kinds of watchmaking madness. In 1920 the brand brought out a pocket watch that was the most sophisticated in the world, with an unprecedented total of 15 complications! The destiny of the watchmaker from Le Brassus was significantly affected by the arrival of the wristwatch, which became widespread in the interwar years. There was temporary respite in the race for complications, with the race for miniaturisation taking its place. In 1946, Audemars Piguet presented the smallest caliber in the world (1.64 mm), followed 20 years later by the flattest automatic movement in the world (2.45 mm), with a gold central rotor. The arrival of Gérald Genta and the very atypical design of the Royal Oak challenged the brand’s design codes. It had not previously been present in the sports segment and was used to a more traditional design. “Even now, the watch is laden with emotion,” explains Laurent Picciotto. “When I met Gérald Genta and, one morning in 1992, I put my first Royal Oak in my window display, it was a momentous occasion. I told myself that there is no such thing as chance and that I had become the custodian of my father’s heritage. But that was only the beginning of the adventure!” At that time the brand had not yet become established as the must-have in luxury watches that it is today. These watches are more of a specialist interest for informed enthusiasts than an organised commercial trend. Audemars Piguet long had only one outlet in its own name in the world, in Geneva. And since the brand is above all a family story, it was only natural that it should entrust the privilege of opening its second shop, in rue Saint Honoré, Paris, to none other than Laurent Picciotto. “It was 1997 and we were starting from scratch. The Royal Oak was at last beginning to carve out its iconic place in watchmaking; the future lay before us,” recalls Laurent Picciotto. This journey went on together on an exclusive basis for a decade and now continues with Laurent as an official agent. ‘‘Together we wrote a chapter in the history of the Manufactory, creating limited series and more besides. And the emotion is still just as real today!” Journalist : Olivier Mûller (11/2012)
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