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Report by Olivier Muller of Delos Communications

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François-Henry Bennahmias made the introduction speech himself. 5 minutes, acting not only as the CEO of the brand, but as the Master of Ceremony. Audemars Piguet had a good 2014, even with a loss of about 40 people (1322 down to 1284). In 2013, AP enjoyed a turnover of EUR 580 million, which should be less than 2014, last year being a record year. Bennahmias underlined that the industry grew 2%, while AP achieved 9%. However, key markets remain the same: #1 is Hong Kong, followed by the USA and Switzerland.

In terms of product announcements, what happened in this SIHH was much anticipated by collectors : the expected wake-up and refresh of the Millenary collection. While the last decade was 100% focused on the Royal Oak/Royal Oak Offshore duet, the Millenary was left aside, despite its amazing case and « mouvement de forme », its caliber perfectly fitting the case.

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AP celebrates the 20 years of this great collection with a specific focus on women's pieces. Many of them are now gem set with a new dial on mother-of-pearl and a small second, an addition that had never been seen before on the Millenary collection. The look & feel of the timepieces remains unchanged, with a large aperture on the front side of the watch, 50% of it being used for the dial itself, 50% being opened on the 5201 hand-wound caliber. All pieces are the same, with only finishings and strap changes. Still, the small-second addition opens a new interesting way and, hopefully, a global refresh of Millenary for men in 2016.

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Still, AP gave an interesting preview of what we could expect next year with a brand new Millenary Quadriennium. The massive 47x42 mm case now includes a quadriannual calendar that requires adjusting just once every leap year. This improvement comes with AP's double balance spring escapement (hand wound).

However, the Royal Oak remains the main entry point for men in the universe of Audemars Piguet. With (again and again) a talking piece and a refresh of the existing collection. The first one is a pure concept watch, called the RD1 (for Research & Development, obviously). What do we know about it ? Nothing.

Many things have not been patented yet. There is a Minute Repeater, supposed to be revolutionnary. However, we don't have any clue on how the manufacture proceeded. in fact, the result is quite impressive - not by how the gongs go loud but by the clarity of the sound, even if, the same day, Jaeger-LeCoultre presented a pretty impressive 80 db minute repeater as well. The RD1 from Audemars Pigiet comes with a tourbillon escapement and a chronograph.

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The Royal Oak Offshore also welcomed a new member, the self-winding Tourbillon Chronograph (44 mm). The piece presents two major innovations (for the brand) : a carbon case and a peripheral oscillating weight mounted on ball bearings. Thanks to this latest, the watch retains a slimmer, contemporary profile. This technology is not very far spread within the industry, Carl F. Bucherer being the only brand to use it on a regular basis (cal. CFB1000A). However, the difference between AP and CFB is that this peripheral weight is, on AP's side, visible on the dial, all around the bezel. An interesting and unusual animation with a real technical value.

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