Straight from sunny Florence I flew to back to snowy Switzerland to visit the manufacture of Audemars Piguet in Le Brassus in the Vallée de Joux. Being the oldest fine watchmaker that is still in the hands of its founding families (Audemars and Piguet), I had the chance to indulge in the brand’s history and to explore the craftsmanship first hand.
Wearing a work coat and shoe covers for protection at the manufacture.
The modern part of the manufacture.
Since 1875, the company has written some of the finest chapters in the history of Haute Horlogerie, including a number of world firsts. At the heart of the Swiss Jura, numerous masterpieces are created in limited series embodying a remarkable degree of horological perfection, including daring sporty models, classic and traditional timepieces, splendid ladies’ jewellery-watches, as well as one-of-a-kind creations.
I was deeply impressed seeing the precision that goes into the assemblage of the 3120 movement that comes also with my favorite watch, the Royal Oak Frosted Gold – 37 mm .
The entrance to the museum.
Over the years, Audemars Piguet has collected vintage models that are beautifully presented in the in-house museum that is only open to private tours.
An impressive family history
Musical watch, around 1840, Piguet & Meyland
Repetition Minutes, 1875, Louis Audemars
The first Royal Oak was designed by Gérald Genta in 1972.
Until today, all information on sold watches are written down by hand. In the ’30s, customers included Bulgari, Van Cleef and Bucherer.
At the moment, Audemars Piguet is building a new museum in Le Brassus designed by Danish architectural firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group). Incorporating the existing building, the new form of a hairspring will showcase the history of the oldest, family owned watchmaker (see below).
Collage and last photo: Courtesy of Audemars Piguet, all other photos: © Sandra Bauknecht