Last summer, Haute Time had the privilege of visiting the Audemars Piguet Museum and Manufacture in Le Brassus, a small Swiss village in the cradle of the watch making industry. Click here for the full article. But last month, it was Audemars Piguet which came to us for a very special day held at Westime Peninsula Beverly Hills, and 12 VIP collectors got to experience a little bit of Le Brassus themselves.
Haute Time guests learned about Audemars Piguet through the brand’s in-house Historian, Michael Friedman, and had the chance to test their craft by taking apart and putting watches back together under the supervision of Technical Trainer, Gary Cruz.
Guests put on their loupes and sat behind working benches to take part in one of only two annual master classes organized by the brand for its collectors.
During the second portion of the day, collectors were shown some of the brand’s rarest watches, through a dozen of the Museum’s permanent collection brought over for the first time from Switzerland, just for the occasion.
Landmark watches in Audemars Piguet’s history include the 1972 Royal Oak, the 1993 Royal Oak Offshore, and the 2002 Concept. But Audemars Piguet is now hoping that unveiling some of its early and mid 20th century models will give new meaning to the current favorites.
“As collectors now have the opportunity to discover the pieces, their interest increases, and I love seeing that,” said Michael Friedman. “Increasingly, we are looking to bring a little bit of Le Brassus experience to these classes, to show where the brand comes from, and hopefully encourage them to come to Switzerland and visit the manufacture.”
One of the oldest pieces from the Museum was a 1904 Grand Complication Pocket Watch. Presented in an 18-carat gold hunter case, with enamel dial, it features a minute repeater, a perpetual calendar, and split-seconds chronograph, all of which must be present at once to fulfill Audemars Piguet’s very specific definition of a grand complication.
Another piece that created some buzz on the day was a 1937 chronograph wristwatch in yellow gold. Aesthetically, this monochromatic piece bears some similarities with the Rose Gold 42mm model in the new Offshore collection, which some VIP guests new all too well.
“For us, our heritage and history might be a very subtle reference point, conscious or not, and for me, as a Historian, I look at the new 42mm collection I do see some historical threads,” said Michael Friedman.
Audemars Piguet also presented one of its unsung heroes, an automatic tourbillon – the first of its kind – from the 1980s. This particular model is from 1988, but the caliber was made in 1986. The watch features the world’s former smallest and thinnest tourbillon. “It’s a fantastic piece. But what’s most interesting about this piece to me, is the fact that the tourbillon carriage is visible on the dial side,” said Michael Friedman “That’s also a first in the industry, and when you consider that point, the watch becomes the tipping point of modern tastes.” The new design anticipated what was to come during the next 30 years, during which more and more manufactures began producing tourbillon wristwatches.
Collectors can now add an Audemars Watchmaking Master Class Certificate, signed and sealed by Xavier Nolot, Audemars Piguet’s North America CEO, and Claudio Cavaliere, the Audemars Global Ambassador, to their watch collection.
They also received an Audemars Piguet leather wallet, Oscar de la Renta beauty products from the Peninsula, and a book on the history of Audemars Piguet watches.
Photo Credit: Adam Emperor Southard for Haute Time. For more information, please visit the official Audemars Piguet website.