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TABLE OF CONTENT FOREWORD

by Jasmine Audemars

05

INTRODUCTION

A COLLECTOR’S HANDBOOK

CHAPTER I // MINIATURE CHIMING WATCHES PART.1 PART.2 PART.3 PART.4

Miniature Pendant Repeating Watches // 1882 - 1970 The Pioneers // 1882 - 1918 Art Deco Wristwatches // 1922 - 1940 Postwar Creations // 1945 - 1960

CHAPTER II // CALENDARS PART.1 Calibre 10GHSM // 1924 - 1954 PART.2 Calibre 9/10RSQ // 1945 - 1967 PART.3 Calibre 13VZSSQP // 1948 - 1969

CHAPTER III // CHRONOGRAPHS PART.1 First Generation // 1930 - 1938 PART.2 World War II // 1939 - 1945 PART.3 Postwar Creations // 1945-1962

07 - 19

20 28 - 41 42 - 47 48 - 67 68 - 79

80 86 - 113 114 - 125 126 - 135

136 146 - 165 166 - 193 194 - 207

CHAPTER IV // DOUBLE COMPLICATIONS 13VZAQ 1941-1959

208

CHAPTER V // REBIRTH BEYOND THE QUARTZ CRISIS

222

PART.1 PART.2 PART.3 PART.4 PART.5

Perpetual Calendars // since 1978 Chronographs // since 1980 Tourbillon // since 1986 Repeaters // since 1992 Multiple Complications // since 1992

APPENDIX APPENDIX 1

Exhaustive and illustrated list of models equipped with Calibre 2120/2800, 1978-1993

228 - 233 234 - 243 244 - 255 256 - 263 265 - 273

274 276 - 290

APPENDIX 2 Exhaustive and illustrated list of models equipped with chiming function, 1992-2002

291 - 305

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

306 - 307


Circa 1895. Audemars Piguet & Co advertising postcard. Audemars Piguet Archives

6

1953. Le Brassus, Audemars Piguet pivoting workshop. Audemars Piguet Archives


AUDEMARS PIGUET // 20TH CENTURY COMPLICATED WRISWATCHES

INTRODUCTION // A COLLECTOR'S HANDBOOK By Sébastian Vivas, Audemars Piguet Heritage & Museum Director, and Michael L. Friedman, Audemars Piguet Historian

Since its origins, Audemars Piguet has crafted hand-finished horological creations that range from the classical to the avantgarde. The company was founded in 1875 in Le Brassus, a small village in the Vallée de Joux – a remote region of Switzerland. Known for its harsh climate and rugged yet beautiful landscape, the Vallée has been the cradle for complicated watch mechanisms since the end of the 1700s. The story of the company began with the partnership of two talented watchmakers, Jules Louis Audemars (1851-1918) and Edward Auguste Piguet (1853-1919), both from watchmaking families specialized in horological complications and both fierce proponents of retaining the hand-crafted traditional watchmaking methods that were developed in the Vallée de Joux during a time of increasing industrialization. The firm has never left the hands of the founding families and never left Le Brassus. Through good years and bad, it employed between 10 and 30 people until 1950, and it was only in the 1970s that the number of employees exceeded 100. During the late 19th century and early-mid 20th century, Audemars Piguet was an Etablisseur, producing watches in collaboration with a variety of small workshops in the Vallée de Joux, conducting an orchestra of closely networked and highly talented craftsmen. Production volumes were very small for much of the history, rarely more than a few hundred watches made per year. This number becomes incredibly small during the 1930s in the wake of the Great Depression. In 1972, Audemars Piguet created the revolutionary Royal Oak, followed in 1993 by the Royal Oak Offshore. These rule-breaking collections created entirely new categories of

high end wristwatches, and today the company is very well recognized for these iconic models. However, it is the earlier history of wristwatch development at Audemars Piguet that built the foundation for experimentation in both form and function. In this book, the Audemars Piguet Heritage Department decided to explore this lesser known part of our history – a very limited domain, yet highly important. The complicated wristwatches have long been recognized by collectors for their inherent rarity, diverse aesthetics and exceptional quality, however the subject has never been comprehensively studied and documented until now. This volume examines in great detail the history of Audemars Piguet complicated wristwatches during the 20th century: cultural symbols and stylistic masterpieces packed with highly-finished mechanical technology. Structured by type of complication, the first four chapters are dedicated to the vintage era, which starts with the very first minute repeating wristwatch sold in 1892, and ends with the last perpetual calendar wristwatch sold in 1969. The last chapter studies the extraordinary revival of complicated wristwatches that began in 1978 amidst the Quartz Crisis. This book is the result of long-term research and extensive analysis by the Audemars Piguet Heritage Department. Composed of ten people including watchmakers, archivists, historians, assistants and apprentices, the team has spent four years combing through and investigating all available resources, including: the Production Registers (Registres d’Etablissage), the Registers of Cases (Registres des Boîtes), original photographs and photographic plates, hand-drawn sketches, technical drawings, correspondence, spare parts collections, antique magazines and books, recent

7


CHAPTER I //

MINIATURE CHIMING WATCHES


CHAPTER I // MINIATURE CHIMING WATCHES PART 3. ART DECO WRISTWATCHES // 1922 - 1940

GLASS PLATE N° 17 "COUSSIN CUBISTE"

The Audemars Piguet archives hold two photographs of the pre-model of a repeating wristwatch from the Art Deco period: a black and white glass plate negative numbered 17 (below) and an advertisement dating back to 1924 (p. 48). In the 1920s, all the watches made by Audemars Piguet were individually different, yet some shared similar design attributes. The Registers of Completed Watches carry six references to repeating wristwatches with a case known as "coussin cubiste" (cubist cushion shape) and with horns (or "anses", lugs as they were referred to at the time) known as "à ailettes à vis" (lug hoops with screws). These six timepieces were sold between 1922 and 1928 and housed calibres produced between 1906 and 1915, with varying diameters of 9, 9½, 10 and 11 lignes. The calibres sit in cases made from varying materials: two yellow gold pieces ("or vert", green gold as it was known at the

time), two yellow gold and platinum pieces, one yellow and white gold, and the last piece made from platinum. These pieces were designed to meet the tastes of international clients who lived in or travelled to the most prestigious resorts in the Swiss Alps. Five of the six were delivered to E. Gübelin in Lucerne, while the remaining platinum piece was delivered to Bittman in St. Moritz. The oldest of which is is now on display at the Audemars Piguet Museum (right page).

50

Glass plate negative, numbered 17

Minute repeater wristwatch. Movement No 12683, case No 16978. Extra-thin calibre 9½SMV#6. 18-carat yellow and white gold case. Applied gold Breguet numerals. Satin-finished dial. "Cathédrale" gold hand. Movement made in 1909, sold as a pendant watch in 1911, re-cased and case re-numbered by Gübelin circa 1928. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 106. Scale 1:1


TABLE OF TECHNICAL FEATURES GLASS PLATE N° 17 CUBIST CUSHION REFERENCE AND DESIGNATIONS

Glass plate No 17, "coussin cubiste" (Cubist cushion), "coussin anses à ailettes à vis" (cushion shape, lug hoops with screws), "anses barrettes à vis" (lug bars with screws)

DOCUMENTED EXAMPLES

Six, including five known*

PRODUCTION YEARS FOR MOVEMENT

1906-1915

SALES

1922-1928

FEATURES (KNOWN PIECES)

Minute repeater, cushion shape, horns known as "à ailettes à vis" (lug hoops with screws), applied Arabic numerals, cushion-shaped peripheral minute circle

CALIBRES

9SMV#6, 9½SMV#6, 9½MV, 10MV, 10MV#6, 11MV#5

MATERIALS

Yellow gold (3), platinum (1), yellow gold and platinum (1), yellow gold and white gold (1)

DOCUMENTED RETAIL CLIENTS

Gübelin Lucerne (5), Bittman St. Moritz (1)

RETAIL PRICE

CHF 2,050-2,200.-

Minute repeater wristwatch. Movement and case No 10474. Extra-thin calibre 10MV#6. 18-carat yellow gold case. Satin-finished dial signed E. Gübelin Lucerne, applied yellow gold Breguet numerals, enamel minute circle, "fuseau" gold hands (originally documented as "cathédrale" gold hands). Movement made in 1906, watch sold to Gübelin in 1922. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 670


CHAPTER I // MINIATURE CHIMING WATCHES PART 4. POSTWAR CREATIONS // 1945 - 1960

PHOTOGRAPH N° 838

Only one minute repeating wristwatch in the Audemars Piguet archives matches photograph No 838. The movement No 38518 was made in 1927. It was carefully preserved in the workshops until 1945, when it was cased and sold.

example, between 1942 and 1949, ten calendar wristwatches with the same case housed calibre 10GHSMQ, which matches photographs 821, 836 and 963 (see Chapter II, part 2).

The stunning beauty of the dial, with alternating applied Arabic numerals and hour-markers that are in perfect harmony with the platinum case, is clearly visible due to the extremely fine bezel. The lugs are particularly distinct as they are extended in length and feature strong geometric lines. The case is referred to as "Modèle 31 Eggly" in the manufacturing documents (Eggly denotes the manufacturer and 31 denotes the 31 mm case diameter). This specific case form housed several different mechanisms during the 1940s, both with and without complications. For 70

Archival photograph numbered 838

Minute repeater wristwatch. Movement and case No 38518. Calibre 12PMV. Platinum case. Brushed silver dial, polished "Alpha" hands. Applied numerals and hour-markers. Movement made in 1927, watch sold in 1945. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 1707. Scale 1:1


Calendar wristwatch No 34573 on its Registers of Completed Watches. Audemars Piguet Archives and Collection, Inv. 159


CHAPTER II // CALENDARS INTRODUCTION The history of calendar watches is an invitation to journey back to the roots of time measurement, which began with an observation of heavenly bodies, and led to the creation of calendars based on solar, lunar or stellar cycles. Since the Middle Ages, clockmakers, astronomers and watchmakers have constantly sought to reproduce heavenly movements mechanically. An historical haven of complicated watchmaking, the Vallée de Joux has always provided perfect conditions for astronomical observation. It is thus hardly surprising that calendar watches found fertile ground. In fact, both Jules Audemars and Edward Piguet crafted watches equipped with calendar mechanisms at the end of their apprenticeships. These two historically significant watches have been passed down through the generations and are part of the Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection and on exhibition in the Museum. Since 1875, the calendar mechanisms have been continuously produced in the workshops of Le Brassus, particularly in the realm of pocket watches. Illustrated by 26 calendar wristwatches, of which 25 belong to the Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, this chapter provides an overview of all the pre-models and models – of which a total of only 188 calendar wristwatches were produced. To be entirely comprehensive, one should also add the 20 double complications that are featured in Chapter IV of this volume. As is the case with many watches from the pre-model era, some interpretations are only known by their archival photographs as the actual watches have not yet reemerged publicly or among the collectors' community. The story of Audemars Piguet calendar wristwatches began in the early 1920s,

soon after the passing of the two founders. The company was now in the hands of the second generation of family ownership: Paul Louis Audemars and Paul Edward Piguet. At the time, Audemars Piguet employed 30 people, half of whom were finishers. The first full (or complete) calendar wristwatch was put into production and entered into the Archives in 1921, and sold three years later in 1924 to the celebrated retailer, Gübelin. From 1924 onwards, production accelerated and within six years, 107 wristwatch calendar movements were set into production and 80 examples had sold. The cases and dials of these watches reflect the Art Deco aesthetics of the era in which they were made: strong geometric lines and motifs, bold numerals, and hand crafstmanship. They were mostly rectangular, in white gold and sometimes in green gold or even platinum. Their dials were often in precious materials and their indications were often black enamelled, featuring a wide range of subtle variations. The 1929 economic crisis led to a brutal interruption, with no new calendar movements put into production between 1930 and the eve of World War II. It was during this era when the emphasis shifted to the production of chronograph wristwatches, which is explored in great detail in Chapter III. 1946 brought renewed interest in calendar wristwatches and production was active through 1950. During this period, 71 calendar wristwatch movements were produced. These movements were cased in various forms until 1966 when the last one was cased up. In parallel, several movements originally from the Art Deco era were recased into new designs, refleting the aesthetic shifts in form language. During the 1940s and 1950s, style preferences shifted to round case forms, primarily in

83


CHAPTER II // CALENDARS

18-carat yellow gold, and with increasingly larger diameters. For example, from 1949 onwards, more than 30 watches featured case diameters of between 36mm and 38mm, which were considered 'oversized' for the era in which they were made. This period also witnessed the creation of the 5516 model: the world's first production wristwatch equipped with a leap-year indicator on the dial. Three examples were made in 1955 and six examples were made in 1957. This chapter is the only one in the book that is structured by calibres. This distinctive feature is due to the fact that Audemars Piguet combined calendar underdial work (additional mechanisms equipped with the calendar function) with several base calibres made by different movement 84

Registers of Completed Watches. Audemars Piguet Archives

blank manufacturers. By way of comparison, repeater movements and historical chronographs were integrated mechanisms. Their production at Audemars Piguet was distinguished by impressive continuity, which meant that a single calibre was often interpreted through many different versions across several decades. We have chosen to focus our research on classic calendar specialities. This means that we have not included wristwatches with the aperture-type date display at 3 o'clock, even though this useful function became essential to Audemars Piguet wristwatches ever since it was introduced in 1963 (Caliber 2072).


CHAPTER II // CALENDARS

CALENDAR WRISTWATCHES PRODUCED AND SOLD DURING THE VINTAGE ERA (1921 – 1969)

YEAR 1921 1924 1925

1 10 12

1 10 12

1 12

1 10

1926

28

28

16

11

2

1927

11

11

12

8

3

1928

29

29

15

5

2

7

1929

12

12

12

3

4

5

1930 1931

5

5

12 5

8 1

2 1

1 1

2

1932 1933 1934 1936 1937 1938

1 2 3 2 1 3

2

1942 1945

1 5

1 2

1946 1947

6 1

6

1948 1949

22 30

21 30

1950

12

12

1

1 6

1 1 1 1

2 1 1

3

1 1 1

9

2

6

1951

11

3

6

1952

6

5

1

1953

12

10

2

1954

6

3

1

3

3

3

5

1956

1957

6

6

3 6

1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969

1 1 1 2 3 3 6 2 1

TOTAL

188

108 69 11

1

1

4

1959 1960

200

1

1

2

3

1

1 1

1 2

1955

1

0 5

PHOTO 180 PHOTO 180 (10); SN (2, OF WHICH 1 "TURTLE CUSHION" MODEL AND 1 "EMPIRE" MODEL PHOTO 180 (11); PHOTO 193 (1); SN (4, OF WHICH 2 SQUARE MODELS, 1 "TURTLE CUSHION" MODEL AND 1 LARGE MOONPHASES MODEL) PHOTO 180 (8); SN (4, OF WHICH 3 RECTANGULAR "TURTLE" MODELS WITH CENTRAL MOONPHASES AND 1 "TURTLE CUSHION" MODEL) PHOTO 180 (2); PHOTO 181 (3); PHOTO 182 (1); PHOTO 194 (1); PHOTO 195 (3); PHOTO 306 (1); SN (1) RECTANGULAR WITH CENTRAL MOONPHASES PHOTO 180 (2); PHOTO 181 (3); PHOTO 182 (1); PHOTO 194 (1); PHOTO 195 (3); PHOTO 306 (1); SN (1) RECTANGULAR WITH CENTRAL MOONPHASES PHOTO 180 (8); PHOTO 181 (1); PHOTO 182 (2); SN (1) PHOTO 180 (1); PHOTO 181 (1); PHOTO 182 (1); PHOTO 306 (1); SN (1) PHOTO 180 PHOTO 182 (1); PHOTO 194 (1) PHOTO 180 (1); PHOTO 182 (1); PHOTO 306 (1) PHOTO 180 (1); PHOTO 182B OR 306 (1) PHOTO 180 PHOTO 181 (1); PHOTO 182 (1); SN (1 RECTANGULAR "TURTLE" MODEL) PHOTO 821 (1) PHOTO 180 (1); PHOTO 790 (2); PHOTO 821 (1); SN (1 "EGGLY 31 WITH CENTRAL MOONPHASES")

2

2

1

1

1

2

2

4 3 2

3

2

1

1 1 1 1 2 1

1 1 2 2 1

15

98 39 27

11

PHOTO 821 (1); PHOTO 836 (2); PHOTO 963 - FUTURE MODEL 5506 (1); SN (1 RECTANGULAR "TURTLE" MODEL WITH CENTRAL MOONPHASES) PHOTO 821 (1) PHOTO 836 (1); PHOTO 963 - FUTURE MODEL 5506 (2); PHOTO 994 - FUTURE MODEL 5504 (2); PHOTO 1010 FUTURE MODEL 5514 (1) PHOTO 994 - FUTURE MODEL 5504 (5); PHOTO 1010 FUTURE MODEL 5514 (2); PHOTO 1011 - FUTURE MODEL 5515 (1); PHOTO 1012 - FUTURE MODEL 5516 (1) PHOTO 963 - MODEL 5506 (1); PHOTO 994 - MODEL 5504 (6); PHOTO 1010 - MODEL 5514 (1); PHOTO 1034 MODEL 5513 (2); PHOTO 1048 - MODEL 5516 (1) PHOTO 1010 - MODEL 5514 (1); PHOTO 1011 MODEL 5515 (1); PHOTO 1034 - MODEL 5513 (4) PHOTO 994 - MODEL 5504 (5); PHOTO 1010 MODEL 5514 (2); PHOTO 1011 - MODEL 5515 (2); PHOTO 1034 - MODEL 5513 (3) PHOTO 963 OR 1083 - MODEL 5506 OR 5523 (2); PHOTO 994 - MODEL 5504 (1); PHOTO 1010 - MODEL 5514 (1); PHOTO 1011 - MODEL 5515 (1); PHOTO 1034 MODEL 5513 (1) PHOTO 1010 - MODEL 5514 (2); PHOTO 1034 MODEL 5513 (1) PHOTO 994 - MODEL 5504 (1); PHOTO 1010 MODEL 5514 (1); PHOTO 1011 - MODEL 5515 (2); CASE MODEL 5057 (1) PHOTO 1010 - MODEL 5514 (2); PHOTO 1034 MODEL 5513 (2) PHOTO 1774 - MODEL 5516 (3) MODEL 5513 (1); MODEL 5514 (2); MODEL 5515 (2); MODEL 5506 OR 5523 (1) MODEL 5513 (1) MODEL 5514 (1) MODEL 5516 MODEL 5513 (1); MODEL 5514 (1) MODEL 5513 (1); MODEL 5514 (2) MODEL 5514 (1); MODEL 5516 (2) MODEL 5504 (1); MODEL 5513 (2); MODEL 5514 (3) MODEL 5516 MODEL 5516

PLATINUM

PINK GOLD

COMBINATION OF MATERIALS

WHITE GOLD

YELLOW GOLD

GREEN GOLD

THE NUMBER OF UNITS PER PHOTO REFERENCE OR MODEL INCLUDES ATTRIBUTIONS BY DEDUCTION. SN MEANS "SANS NUMÉRO" (NO NUMBER) IS INDICATED IN THE ARCHIVES AND SPECIFIES THE DESIGNATIONS WHEN THERE ARE ANY.

MATERIAL GOLD (NON-SPECIFIED COLOUR)

PERPETUAL CALENDARS

APERTURES

HANDS

DISPLAYS QP DESIGNATIONS // REFERENCES HANDS AND APERTURES

TRANSFORMED

(UNSOLD OR TRANSFORMED AT THE CLIENT’S REQUEST)

TOTAL DELIVERED AS WRISTWATCHES

13VZSSQP

9/10RSQ

CALIBRES 10GSHM

TOTAL

WRISTWATCH CASING-UP AND DELIVERY

(INCLUDING 1 EX 10HPVM // 1921)

MOVEMENT PRODUCTION LAUNCH

1 4

7

1

6

6

4

5

1

4

1

4

11

3 4

9 7

2

1

1

2

1 1

1 1 1

1 2 1 1 1

1

1 1

2

1

2 1

3

2

2

4

3

5

1

5

4

1

1

1

3

1

1

8

2

2

6 3

1

1

1

3

1

2 3

2

5 1 1 1 1 3 3 5 2 1

14 30 73 61 10 8

3

This table distinguishes the production launch years from those of the actual delivery of the completed watches, since there may be a considerable difference between the two dates. 188 calendar wristwatches were put into production and finished. Among them, 15 were transformed after their first casing-up, either because they remained unsold for reasons relating to the economic climate and had to be updated, or because their owner wished to have them transformed to make them more current. The figure 200 indicates the units delivered, which means that 12 watches were delivered twice, with different exteriors. The figures combine formally attested information with that deduced from an interpretation of the documents. when a given item of information cannot be deduced, it is not included in the stats.

85


First Audemars Piguet calendar wristwatch. Movement and case No 27819. Calibre 10HPVM. 18-carat white gold case, 14-carat white gold dial, blued steel Breguettype hands. Gold calendar hands. Black enamel Arabic numerals. Engraving on the back "L. Steward Barr USA 1924. This is the first calendar wristwatch ever made by us and I believe it to be the only one in existence. E. GĂźbelin. Lucerne 1924. Switzerland". Movement made in 1921, watch sold in 1924 to GĂźbelin Lucerne. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 1768


CHAPTER II // CALENDARS PART. 1 CALIBRE 10GHSM // 1924-1954

PHOTOGRAPHS N°180 & 180B

After selling the first calendar watch with Calibre 10HPVM in 1924 movement (No 27819, see left page) to the retailer, Gübelin, Audemars Piguet decided to use the 10GHSM calibre for all its calendar wristwatches.

(date). The frequently verified assumption is that the other versions had more specific descriptions. Of the 48 watches whose description could match photographs 180 and 180b, nine have been examined by the Audemars Piguet Heritage department, either personally or via photographs.

Of the 107 examples with the 10GHSM calibre, the Archives confirm that 48 watches share many characteristics to photo No 180: a rectangular-shaped triple calendar wristwatch with phases and age of the moon. This high proportion correlates with the number of known and published watches, most notably those that have appeared in auction catalogues. It should nevertheless be qualified. This pre-model was by default given all the generic descriptions in the archives, such as "cal" (calendar) or "quant" 89

Archival photograph numbered 180

Archival photograph numbered 180B


Perpetual calendar wristwatch. Movement No 66136, case No 11151. Calibre 13VZSSQP, 18-carat yellow gold case. Gold dial, silver-plated. Black enamel numerals. Applied yellow gold hour-markers. Yellow gold timekeeping hands. Blued steel calendar hands. Movement made in 1955, watch sold in 1959 to Vacheron Constantin (Genève). Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 1732

DOCUMENTED EXAMPLES

3, of which 3 known watches

INDICATIONS

Perpetual calendar: days, peripheral dates, 48 months and pointer-type leap-year cycle, moonphases at 2 o'clock. Hours, minutes, small seconds

PRODUCTION YEAR

1955

SALES

1959

MATERIAL

Yellow gold (3)

CASE AND MOVEMENT NUMBERS

66135-66137


CHAPTER II // CALENDARS PART. 3 CALIBRE 13VZSSQP // 1948-1969

PHOTOGRAPH N°1774 – MODEL 5516

This third version of the model 5516, corresponding to the watch in photograph No 1774, is the first ever wristwatch with the leap-year cycle indicated on the dial. The leapyear indication, which up to this point had only been included in pocket watches, was traditionally displayed on a 48-month subsidiary dial. However the reduced size of a wristwatch would make such an indication very difficult to read.

in design from the earlier generations of model 5516 resulted in a two-tone dial with peripheral date ring and corresponding central date hand.

These first three examples with leap-year indication did include the traditional 48-month subsidiary dial with leap-year indicator at 6 o’clock. The months are divided into four quadrants marking the four years of the cycle and denoted clearly, as 1st YEAR – 2nd YEAR – 3rd YEAR – 4th YEAR. To improve the legibility and functionality of the watch, the 12 months of the year are displayed more visibly on the subsidiary dial at 3 o’clock. Every month is shown as a three-letter abbreviation. This change

The dial is in gold, silver-plated, engraved with black enamel numerals and enhanced by applied yellow gold hour-markers. The "bâton" timekeeping hands are in yellow gold, whereas the calendar hands are in blued steel.

These three watches were put into production in 1955 and delivered four years later to the Vacheron Constantin company, which took care of their distribution without signing the watches themselves.

131

Archival photograph numbered 1774, model 5516

Perpetual calendar wristwatch. Movement No 66137, case No 11152. Calibre 13VZSSQP, 18-carat yellow gold case. Gold dial, silverplated. Black enamel numerals and writing. Applied yellow gold hour-markers. Yellow gold timekeeping hands. Blued steel calendar hands. Movement made in 1955, watch sold in 1959 to Vacheron Constantin (Genève). Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 1772. Scale 1:1


Calibre 11GCCV, movement 41846, (bridge-side view). Scale 3:1 144

Calibre 13VZAH, movement 44635, (bridge-side view). Scale 3:1


CHAPTER III // CHRONOGRAPHS

FROM SINGLE PUSHPIECE TO DOUBLE PUSHPIECE

41846

42637

42625

44575

145

These images illustrate the technical evolution of chronographs during the first half of the 20th century. In the first picture (No 41846), the operating lever is on the crown. The second picture (No 42637) illustrates the separation of the chronograph function. On the third picture (No 42625), the system became more complex with a double lever to add the restart function and to add the zero-resetting function. The fourth picture (No 44575) shows a variation on the same system.

EXAMPLE OF VARIATIONS ON THE HOUR COUNTER SPRING

44635

49676

On these two variations of Calibre 13VZAH, the hour counter mechanism bridge features a comparable shape and identical decoration: chamfered, polished and satin finished, with sinks around the screws. However, the left-hand movement (No 44635, made in 1939, sold in 1941, Inv. 1755) is equipped with a meticulously shaped and decorated pin-type hammer spring, while the pinion is held by a less elaborate spring. Meanwhile, the movement on the right (No 49676, made in 1946, sold in 1950, Inv. 1748) is fitted with an extremely thin "thread-type" spring that activates the hammer spring and the hour operating lever. A large screw positioned near the crown secures the winding pinion during casing up.


DOCUMENTED EXAMPLES

10

PRODUCTION YEARS FOR MOVEMENT

1936 – 1939

SALES YEARS

1937-1940

WATCH DIMENSIONS

32.5mm

CALIBRE

13CHRO CPT (1936), 13VZ CHRO (1937), 13CHRO VZ Valjoux (1939)

MATERIALS

Steel (4 including 3 "Staybrite"), 18-carat gold (6 including 4 yellow gold and 1 in white gold)

CLIENTS OR RETAILERS

Castelli, Milano (3); Amarello, Geneva (2); Bittmann, St. Moritz (2); Corona, Buenos Aires (2) H.Golay & Son, London (1)

KNOWN RETAIL PRICE Between CHF 190.- (steel) and CHF 325.- (white gold)


CHAPTER III // CHRONOGRAPHS PART. 1 FIRST GENERATION // 1930-1938

PHOTOGRAPH N° 512 "LUNETTE CUBISTE" Audemars Piguet’s production registers indicate ten watches corresponding to photograph No 512. Four of them were made from a steelbased alloy known as Staybrite, a material that was introduced into the world of watchmaking by Firth Brown in 1919, mixing steel with 18% chrome, 8% nickel and 0.2% carbon. The alloy considerably reduced the risk of oxidation created by contact between the skin and metal: wristwatches were the first watches in continous contact with human skin. Watch No 42875 (illustration on the left), sold in 1937 by Bittman in St. Moritz and did not re-appear once again until December 2015 at Christie’s New York. This exceptional watch in the Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection stands out with its technically designed enamel dial, a material that is very rarely combined with steel. Two tachymeter scales painted in red enable

the wearer to calculate the speed in miles per hour and in quarter miles per hour: one on the outside of the dial, the other in the shape of a spiral in the centre. Other extremely rare aspects for Audemars Piguet chronograph timepieces are the Arabic numerals and the openworked hands that are enhanced by a layer of radium so as to indicate the time even in the dark. Watch No 44576, the last of nine watches corresponding to photograph No 512, sold in 1940, was fitted with dial 1517 (see p. 172), and a pulsometer scale, allowing the wearer to calculate the pulse rate.

159

Chronograph wristwatch. Movement and case No 42875. Calibre "13CHRO CPT". Staybrite steel case. Enamel dial painted with Arabic numerals, covered with radium. Openworked radium blued steel hands. Peripheral tachymeter scale and central spiral. Movement made in 1936, watch sold in 1937 to Bittman & Cie St. Moritz for CHF 190.-. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 1746. Scale 1:1

Archival photograph numbered 512


CHAPTER III // CHRONOGRAPHS PART. 1 FIRST GENERATION // 1930-1938

PHOTOGRAPH N° 524 "CAMBRÉE"

Photograph No 524 is only mentioned once in Audemars Piguet’s Registers of Completed Watches. It is therefore highly likely that watch No 42625 photographed here is an entirely unique design. It stands out by its absence of horns, the engraved and enamelled Roman numerals on the enlarged bezel and its overall diameter (37.75mm). The Archives describe the dial as "jaune pâle brossés" (brushed pale yellow), its decoration as "biseaux polis" (polished bevels). The Archives also confirm the double signature of the manufacturer Audemars Piguet & Co and the retailer Astrua, who acquired the watch in December 1936.

164

30-minute counter with red additional 45-minute indication

Chronograph wristwatch signed Audemars Piguet and Astrua. Movement and case No 42625. Calibre "13CHRO CPT". 18-carat yellow gold case. "Jaune pâle brossé" dial. Enamel Roman numerals on the bezel. "Boussole" (compass) hands in gold (hour and minute) and blued steel (chronograph). Movement made in 1933, watch sold in 1936 to Astrua (Turin) for CHF 400.-. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 1752. Scale 1:1


CHAPTER III // CHRONOGRAPHS PART. 3 POSTWAR CREATIONS // 1945-1962

PHOTOGRAPH N° 993 "RATTRAPANTE FORME 6853"

The majority of chronograph pocket watches produced by Audemars Piguet since 1875 feature a split-second mechanism. However, this function is immensely rare in wristwatches. Only one example is documented, that was created before 1996. Watch No 46978 was sold by Audemars Piguet to New York retailer Roehrich on April 14th 1949, and it currently belongs to a prestigious private collection. Made by Jeanneret in Le Locle, the 35mm case stands out with its large flared lugs and a distinctive profile. The Registers describe the dial as: "blanc" (white), "XII romain et triangle reliefs" (applied Roman XII and triangle), "aiguilles fils or" (gold wire hands).

The calibre is a 13VZAH, with the split-second function added in. A sheet found in the Registers of Completed Watches seems to indicate that the watch was initially meant to correspond to photograph No 1535, shape 6853, (see p. 206), but that the addition of the split-second hand was the result of a special request received after production had started. The archives include the mention of a second split-second movement, made in 1946, yet it is unlikely that it was ever cased up and sold.

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Split-second chronograph wristwatch. Movement and case No 46978. Calibre 13VZAH. 18-carat yellow gold case, shape 6853. White dial. Applied gold Roman XII triangle hour-markers. "Fil or" (gold wire) hands in gold (hour, minute, seconds) and in blued steel (chronograph. Movement made in 1943, watch sold in 1950 to Roehrich (New York). Private Collection

Archival photograph numbered 993


CHAPTER IV // DOUBLE COMPLICATIONS 13VZAQ 1941-1959

PHOTOGRAPH N°1534 MODEL 5503

Full calendar and chronograph wristwatch. Movement and case No 46931. 18-carat yellow gold case, shape 10198. White dial. Gold applied numerals. Baton timekeeping and calendar hands in gold, blued steel chronograph hands. Movement made in 1943, watch sold in 1959 to Audemars Piguet New York. Audemars Piguet Heritage, Inv. 1743. Scale 1:1

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Watch No 46538 (left) features a gold dial plate and white satin-finished dial with applied pink gold square-shaped hour-markers. The beauty and clarity of the dial is derived from the artisanal techniques utilized in its creation by the Geneva dial-maker company Stern Frères SA. Aspects of the dial including the tachymetric scale, minutes track and signature are printed, while the lunar calendar and subsidiary dial indications are realized by the highly specialized engraving and enameling technique which was reserved for important complicated wristwatches and used by very few companies during this era.

Full calendar and chronograph wristwatch. Movement and case No 46538. Steel and 14-carat gold case, shape 10198. White satinfinished dial. Applied pink gold hour-markers, squares arranged in a circle. Pink gold baton hands. Movement made in 1942, watch sold in 1945 to Roehrich (New York). Private Collection Scale 1:1


Circa 1990. Audemars Piguet workshop in Le Brassus. Audemars Piguet Archives

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Circa 1985. Excerpt from a technical drawing of the seflwinding chronograph calibre 2126/2840. Audemars Piguet Archives


CHAPTER V //

REBIRTH BEYOND THE QUARTZ CRISIS INTRODUCTION In the history of Swiss watchmaking, there is distinct “before and after” the Quartz Crisis. Invented for clocks in 1927 at Bell Telephone Laboratories, and miniaturized for wristwatches during the late 1960s, the far more accurate quartz technology represented a seismic change in the field of horology. As the 1970s progressed, the proliferation and mass production of quartz watches profoundly shook up and eventually dismantled much of the traditional Swiss watchmaking industry. A few figures reveal the wide scope of the industry upheaval. In 1974, Switzerland exported more than 84 million watches, the majority of which were mechanical. One decade later, in 1984, exports were down to only 30 million watches and quartz watches represented a large percentage of that number. Between 1974 and 1984, a thousand companies and two-thirds of all jobs in the Swiss watchmaking industry had vanished. The figures are quite different for Audemars Piguet. In 1974, its 125 employees produced around 9,000 watches. Ten years later, the number of employees had doubled, whereas production had increased only slightly, to 11,000 units. Rather than wagering on the new and accurate mass-produced quartz watch technology, Audemars Piguet looked to innovate in terms of form and function while continuing to respect traditional watchmaking methods. From the revolutionary Royal Oak that was introduced in 1972 to the relaunch of complicated wristwatches that began later that same decade, there was emphasis on both classical approaches to the horological arts as well as innovation in design and aesthetics. The continued development of finely hand-crafted openworked wristwatches and pocket watches,

as well as the creation of unique and rare high jewelry watches also continued throughout the 1970s, 1980s and into the present day. The first key milestone dates back to 1978 with the introduction of Calibre 2120/2800: the world’s thinnest selfwinding perpetual calendar movement. This daring bet was ultimately decided by George Golay who had been at the helm of the company since the end of World War II. From then onwards, the revival of classical complications continued at a steady pace. In 1980, Audemars Piguet reintroduced the chronograph wristwatch, entirely openworked by hand – a blend of sportiness and craftsmanship. Six years later, the selfwinding chronograph was launched for the first time at the company, followed by the era of the iconic Royal Oak Offshore which was introduced in 1993. The 1990s saw a continuation of the work undertaken during the previous decade. Along with the return of minute repeater wristwatches, the first triple complications appeared in 1992, followed in 1996 by the first Audemars Piguet Grande Complications wristwatch – combining minute repeater, perpetual calendar and split second chronograph. Three years later, the Tradition d’Excellence No 1 went beyond the framework of classical watchmaking to combine complications in an innovative way. The Quartz Crisis had the notable effect of creating a soul-searching stress test that confirmed and even strengthened the fundamental pillars of mechanical watchmaking. This chapter stands out from previous sections of this book by the number of themes that are dealt with and by the background information it provides. Its structure is based on the various complications, chronologically organized so as to retrace the key stages of the extraordinary renewal during and after the Quartz Crisis.

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CHAPTER V // REBIRTH BEYOND THE QUARTZ CRISIS PART. 3 TOURBILLON // SINCE 1986

CALIBRE 2870

The two models equipped with calibre 2870, whose history is told in the previous pages, were produced from 1986 to 1992 and sold until 1999. Almost half of the 401Â watches were distributed in Europe, over one third in Asia (including 16% of the total in Hong Kong), 15% in the United States and less than 5% in the Middle East. The vast majority were cased in 18-carat yellow gold, while 23 were made in platinum. No examples in pink gold or white gold were created. It is worth noting that the first models had a gold lug bar cover, visible on the watch illustrated here.

TOTAL

401 watches delivered 1986-1999

MODELS

25643 (382); 25656 (19)

MATERIALS

25643: 18-carat yellow gold (360), platinum (22, numbered separately, produced in 1990-92) 25656: 18-carat yellow gold (18), platinum (1)

DELIVERY DATES

25643: 1986-1999 25656: 1987-1996

DIMENSIONS

Case size: 27.8mm x 32.8mm Case thickness: 5.3mm Movement thickness: 3.06mm Tourbillon cage diameter: 7.2mm Tourbillon cage height: 2.05mm

248

Selfwinding tourbillon prototype. 18-carat yellow gold. Prototype made circa 1985. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 538. Scale 1:1

Selfwinding tourbillon. 18-carat yellow gold case No 296. Calibre 2870. Model 25643BA with lug bar cover. Watch sold in 1990. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 1057. Scale 1:1


CHAPTER V // REBIRTH BEYOND THE QUARTZ CRISIS PART. 3 TOURBILLON // SINCE 1986

MODEL 25831

In celebration of its 25th Anniversary, the very first Royal Oak model was produced with a tourbillon escapement in 1997 and featured a stylized octagonal-shaped aperture. This 25-piece limited edition featured what were considered the world’s most expensive steel watches. In addition to steel, precious materials were issued in limited series of five watches per material (pink gold, platinum and yellow gold) as well as a one-of-a-kind model combining pink and white gold.

Archival photograph, model 25831ST.OO.1110ST.01

255

Royal Oak Tourbillon. Selfwinding, date, 52- hour power-reserve indication. Movement No 386194, 18-carat pink gold case No D99406, 01. Calibre  2875. Model 25831OR issued in a fivepiece limited edition. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 910. Scale 1:1

Archival photograph, model 25831RC.OO.1110RC.01


CHAPTER V // REBIRTH BEYOND THE QUARTZ CRISIS PART. 5 MULTIPLE COMPLICATIONS // SINCE 1992

TRADITION D’EXCELLENCE

Tradition d’Excellence No 4. Royal Oak. Chronograph, double power-reserve indication, tourbillon, 10-day power reserve. 950 platinum. Calibre 2893. Model 25969PT issued in a 20-piece limited edition. Launched in 2004. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 636. Scale 1:1

Tradition d’Excellence No 3. Edward Piguet. Chronograph with central instant 30-minute counter. Tourbillon, dynamograph, power-reserve indication. 950 platinum. Calibre 2894. Model 25958PT issued in a 20-piece limited edition in 2001. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 1419. Scale 1:1

Tradition d’Excellence No 5. Millenary. Perpetual calendar, chronometer, direct impulse Audemars PIguet escapement, 7-day power-reserve indication. 950 platinum. Calibre 2899. Model 26066PT issued in a 20-piece limited edition. Launched in 2006. Audemars Piguet Heritage Collection, Inv. 934

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Audemars Piguet 20th Century Complicated Wristwatches  

This richly illustrated work contains all documented information on the complicated wristwatches created by Audemars Piguet in the 20th cent...

Audemars Piguet 20th Century Complicated Wristwatches  

This richly illustrated work contains all documented information on the complicated wristwatches created by Audemars Piguet in the 20th cent...

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