Audemars Piguet Buying Guide
Born in Switzerland’s famed Vallee de Joux in 1875, Audemars Piguet is one of the “Holy Grail” watch brands for top collectors. Since its inception, this innovative family-owned company has built museum-worthy masterpieces of art and mechanics.
Audemars Piguet masterfully combines state-of-the-art watchmaking with high-tech materials to create visionary yet contemporary watches. Its research and development department is one of the most sophisticated in the watch world, and the brand regularly works with engineers outside of the company for new developments in technology. The company is known for its marketing slogan that underscores the brand’s commitment to excellence: “To break the rules, you must first master them.”
Side-by-side with this high-tech environment are the master watchmakers who spend hundreds of hours building a single watch with tiny tools, jewelers loupes and microscopes. In fact, new Audemars Piguet watches come with a certificate attesting to the work done at every stage, and to the watchmaker who completed it.
LeBron James, Serena Williams and golfers Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter are among the famous people known to wear Audemars Piguet watches.
Key Audemars Piguet Watch Models
Audemars Piguet is committed to exclusivity and keeps its production steady at roughly 40,000 pieces a year. The diversity of Audemars Piguet watches runs the gamut from sporty to elegant, and sleek but incredibly complicated to gold-banded and ultra-high-jeweled.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Created by the legendary Gerald Genta, the Royal Oak has become one of the most iconic watches in modern-day watchmaking history. In 1970, at the request of Audemars Piguet, Genta designed the Royal Oak literally overnight. Its octagonal shape with eight distinctive screws on the bezel made the watch unique – and a hit. It fast became a beloved watch coveted by royalty, celebrities and collectors. It has become one of the most iconic watches of the past half century.
Royal Oak Offshore
The Royal Oak enjoyed legendary success when nearly two dozen years after its appearance on the market, Audemars Piguet wanted to create a more contemporary version of the icon. In 1993, the brand released the Royal Oak Offshore. The case of the Royal Oak Offshore was 42mm in diameter – larger than the 41mm Royal Oak. It is also thicker, and remains so today, because of the larger and sportier bezel and the rubber gasket that is placed between the bezel and case. Even the Tapisserie pattern on the dial is larger than on the Royal Oak. In 2013, 20 years after the Royal Oak Offshore was born, Audemars Piguet released the Royal Oak Offshore Diver watch.
Royal Oak Concept
Another offshoot of the beloved Royal Oak is more recent in its appearance. The Royal Oak Concept collection is the place where micro-mechanics and Nano technology come into play that don’t fit in the Royal Oak or the Royal Oak Offshore lines. This collection includes the complicated Tourbillon Chronograph Openworked self-winding watches, the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon and the Flying Tourbillon GMT.
Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet
Released to the world just a few years ago, the Code 11.59 was welcomed by many and disliked by others. An all-new collection for the brand, the design code of the collection had some watch collecting naysayers booing the round case with octagonal middle case insert – mostly because they felt the very large double-curved sapphire crystal and large dial had an almost fashion-watch look to it. But the watch has so many positive attributes (including the large dial, crystal and octagon middle case) that it is hard not to like it. Audemars Piguet created versions with complications and new calibers that collectors couldn’t pass up. In fact, six new calibers were created for the Code 11.59, including a self-winding chronograph, perpetual calendar, Tourbillon open-worked, self-winding flying tourbillon and a minute repeater sonnerie. The watch was named for that last minute of the day, when 11:59 turns to midnight and the day resets.
Audemars Piguet Millenary
Initially designed as a men’s watch in the mid 1990s, the Millenary has now been transformed into a women’s watch collection. The horizontal oval case shape is better suited to a smaller wrist and offers feminine curves. The collection consists of off-center dials with the mechanics showing through, as well as artistic models with dials made of opals or aventurine. All of the Millenary watches are powered by hand-wound movements.
Value and Collectability of Audemars Piguet Watches
Audemars Piguet watches are highly sought-after and generally hold their value. Pre-owned Audemars Piguet prices vary greatly. In early 2020, a gold Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo set a world record price when it sold for CHF 80,000. However, more complicated Audemars Piguet watches have sold for even more.
Vintage Audemars Piguet watches — from pre-1970s — are often slimmer and more elegant in styling. Some models can be found on the second-hand market for under $10,000. However, these are not the most in-demand watches from the brand. Audemars Piguet steel watches like the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore run in the $35,000-and-up range because these are the most coveted among collectors today.