Audemars Piguet has been creating complex mechanical watches since 1875. Nearly 150 years later, the brand is still using traditional and artisanal methods to create their precise complications. Some of its most famous mechanical innovations include the creation of the smallest minute repeater in the world and a jumping second hand pocket watch. Buying an Audemars Piguet watch means owning an icon. Find yours in our collection of exceptional used Audemars Piguet watches for sale below.
Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet founded Audemars Piguet in 1875. The two young entrepreneurs had known each other since childhood. They grew up in the famous Vallee de Joux, Switzerland – a place with deep horological roots. Both men had watchmaking in their blood, coming from long lines of watchmakers. Through their upbringing, each had gravitated toward different areas of watchmaking. They were a perfect fit to go into business together.
Audemars worked on the technical side of the business. He used his experience working with the production of complex movements to head up Audemars Piguet’s production. There, he helped with the creation of the raw components for their timepieces as well as product development. Early on, Piguet served as the company’s master watchmaker. He assembled movements and performed the final inspection of each timepiece before it left the facility, making any adjustments needed. Later, Piguet became interested in the sales, marketing, and management side of the business and shifted into that role.
It took time for Audemars Piguet to evolve into the powerhouse brand we know today. Their first big breakthrough came in 1892. That year, they created the first minute repeater wristwatch, which was far ahead of its time. Shortly after in 1899, they unveiled the “Grand Complication” pocket watch, which featured an impressive seven complications. These included an alarm, chronograph with jumping seconds, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, deadbeat seconds, and split-seconds as well as a grand and small strike. These creations ultimately helped lay the groundwork for the brand to take off over the next hundred years.
Audemars Piguet was catching it stride at the turn of the century. However, the early 1900s also marked a period of change for the brand. Both founders passed away within a year of each other, in 1918 and 1919 respectively. Fortunately, the business remained in the family as their sons took over the company. Together, they continued to perpetuate their fathers’ legacies. Within a few short years, they had developed the thinnest pocket watch caliber in 1925. Soon after came the first skeletonized pocket watch in 1934 and the thinnest wristwatch in 1946.
By the 1970s, Audemars Piguet would solidify its place in watchmaking history. During that decade, the watch industry was in the midst of the Quartz Crisis and many manufacturers were struggling. Audemars Piguet, like countless other brands, was trying to think outside the box. In 1972, the annual Swiss Watch Show (now called Baselworld) was merely one day away. Audemars Piguet was determined to introduce something bold. Their managing director met with one of the industry’s eminent designers, Gerald Genta. He told Genta that Audemars Piguet had an idea of creating an entirely new watch category: the luxury sport watch. However, they still needed a design to present at the exhibition the following day. Genta’s genius came through, and he created the Royal Oak.
A decade later, they built upon the popular model with the help of designer Emmanuel Gueit. Then, the Royal Oak Offshore was born. Both iterations of the Royal Oak were initially polarizing. However, these models have ultimately become synonymous with the Audemars Piguet brand. Still, the company continues to embody the inventive spirit of its founders. To commemorate the brand’s monumental 125th anniversary at the turn of the century, they debuted another highly complex timepiece. It boasted a number of complications, including a perpetual calendar, sunrise, sunset, and equation of time. Today, the brand perpetuates this pioneering spirit by experimenting with new technologies and materials. For instance, in 2018 they released the Royal Oak Frosted Gold, which incorporated a unique hammering technique. The result is a distinctive texture and finish on the watch. A year later in 2019, they introduced a number of ceramic variations of the Royal Oak.
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