Audemars Piguet’s new Millenary campaign
Luxury watches have always been considered a man’s domain but that is fast changing, as more women continue to invest in timepieces. For a while it was all about elaborate, bejewelled styles, but the next big trend sees a return to haute horlogerie as watchmakers are creating fashion-inspired designs that also showcase their cutting edge innovations, and artistic and technical know-how.
One brand that is leading the way is Audemars Piguet, which recently launched its new Millenary collection in capital of haute couture, Paris. The event, which was attended by their new brand ambassador Freida Pinto, also saw the unveiling of a fresh advertising campaign which is the result of a creative collaboration with some of the best names in the fashion business – photographer David Bailey, acclaimed director Baillie Walsh, Tilda Swinton’s stylist Jerry Stafford and uber chic model Anouck Lepere.
The Millenary watch
Of course the main focus was on the new Millenary watch, which was originally created 20 years ago. This time – pardon the pun – it’s been updated with fashionable details such as multiple dials for a playful look, and precious materials such as more diamonds, mother of pearl, pink or blue cabochon sapphires and alligator straps. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the watch is the openwork dial that reveals the hand wound manufacture inside (it’s oval shaped to match the shape of the case). Made up of 157 parts it’s a work of art in itself.
While the Millenary signals a new era for the brand, they have a rich history of women’s watches. We were lucky enough to visit the brand’s headquarters in the stunning Vallée de Joux, in the Jura region of Swtizerland, where they make only 37,000 watches a year. Audemars Piguet is the oldest watchmaking manufacturer still in the hands of its founding families, a history which is celebrated in their incredible museum, located nearby the manufacture, which houses over a heritage collection of over 1,300 pieces.
Boxes in the Restoration Workshop
There are around seven rooms, each one dedicated to showcasing an important element of the brand’s story from how it was founded (by Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet in 1875) to the history behind the iconic Royal Oak watch. Our favourite room was definitely the Restoration workshop where skilled artisans restore or conserve antique and vintage watches by Audemars Piguet or other brands in the area. Here you’ll find a cabinet filled with beautiful boxes housing an inventory of vintage parts. These are actually used for inspiration by watchmakers as many times an entirely new part is required, making the job an art form and skill.
According to the museum’s curator, Sebastian Vivas, Audemars Piguet created their first ladies watch in 1883, in the form of pendants and brooches. Ladies watches in fact paved the way for wristwatches because the movements had to be small enough to fit their bejewelled designs. By the 1970s they really broke new ground with innovative designs such as the 1970 elliptical bracelet watch, which was crafted ifrom luxe materials such as Tiger’s Eye. More recently we have seen incredible haute joallerie creations such as the Punk Rock, a graphic design inspired by the Punk era which comprises of a cuff bracelet with 56 angular pyramids covered in 7,848 diamonds.
Elliptical Bracelet Watch with Tiger’s Eye circa 1971 (top) and Punk Rock (above)
No doubt the new Millenary will earn its rightful place among these iconic creations.