The Charm of Audemars Piguet

The Horologium September 24, 2002 admin



There was a time, not long ago, when the mention of  Audemars Piguet lightened the hearts and lifted the spirits  of those in
love with fine watches.  In recent years, particularly in the US, the name has come to do much less.

In fact, Audemars Piguet is still a company whose watches  are among the finest in the
world.  With a long tradition in watchmaking,  this family-owned company is still  extraordinarily talented in the traditional Swiss crafts.

Audemar’s bread-and-butter  caliber 2125 is an automatic calendar movement derived from the Jaeger LeCoultre 888.   Used in
everything from the Royal Oak to a wide range of more traditional watches, the caliber is a quiet and modest masterpiece.

Fortunately for the collector of fine watches, 2125-based watches are  widely available, and at bargain-basement
prices.   Compared to the watches of the three or four other companies producing comparable quality, Audemars Piguets are  ridiculously discounted.  It is no exaggeration to say that for
the price of many utterly mediocre steel chronographs, a masterpiece may be had.  The 18 karat, 2125-based watch illustrated here was purchased for US$2,000. 

Jaeger LeCoultre (40 percent of which is owned by Audemars) has recently begun marketing first-quality watches under its own name, and is an expert
movement finisher.  The very same movements from Audemars, however, show numerous subtle differences in style and quality that speak of Audemars long history of first-quality production.  While JLC
runs its movements at 28,800 beats per hour, Audemars has remained with the more traditional 21,600.  The caliber 2125 is an 12.5 ligne, 3.25 millimeter thick, 33 jewel design.

The superb detail finishing and soft, charming French-Swiss country style is apparent in literally every detail of the plates and
bridges.   Long located in Le Brassus, in the Vallee de Joux, the watches of Audemars Piguet cannot be mistaken for a Geneva product.   If the watches of Geneva dazzle like formal evening
wear, the watches of Audemars glow with the beauty of impeccably-tailored, fine wool tweeds and burnished leather.

True to long tradition, components of the keyless mechanism (for winding and handsetting) are as beautifully finished as the top plate.

The entire top plate (with barrel bridge removed) is illustrated left.  The complex automatic winding system is seen in the cluster of
wheels at (1).  The renown JLC switching rocker is seen at (1A).  The mainspring barrel is shown at (2). The keyless works are shown at (3) along with the hacking lever (
3A),  which arrests the balance when the crown is pulled into the hand-setting position.







The bottom plate is as immaculately finished as the top plate.  The sophisticated calendar mechanism with quick set date function is under the cover at (1).



The dial, too, is beautifully detailed.

Typical of the attention to detail in Audemars watches is the correctly counter-balanced seconds hand.  Instead of merely using the
tail of the hand for visual balance, the tail is weighted to smooth amplitude in vertical positions.

Finished and cased, the 2125 is a remarkable piece of work that radiates the charm of Audemars Piguet.   The polish and sheen is

Long a favorite in the stylistically-sophisticated Italian market, Audemars has produced many beautiful watches over the years. 
The 36  millimeter model shown here is inexplicably named the “Sportif”  (it does
have a screw-down crown) and dates from the 1980’s.  Given the quality of execution, inside and out, Audemars like these offer an opportunity to own true excellence at prices that, today,  buy little of real substance.