Audemars Piguet unveils its novelties for 2024 and brand-new AP House in Milan

The maison also introduced a special collaboration with American singer-songwriter.

The pastel-coloured ‘Grande Tapisserie’ dials and matching pearly alligator straps add a sophisticated touch to the 37mm Royal Oak Selfwinding in 18-carat pink or white gold (All photos: Audemars Piguet)

Famous for introducing the Royal Oak watch by the visionary Gerald Genta in 1972, Audemars Piguet (AP) has upped its game by banking on its rich heritage and innovative spirit. And it was no different at this year’s AP Social Club which took place in Milan, Italy.

The annual event is an intimate gathering where the watch fraternity comes together to immerse themselves in the manufacture’s latest horological marvels for the first semester of 2024.

Beyond simply showcasing the artistry of watchmaking, AP Social Club serves as a nexus for like-minded individuals to share insights, deepen their passion for horology and foster a sense of camaraderie that extends far beyond the confines of the “club”.


The launch

“It is with great emotion that I start this journey of AP Social Club in my home country,” announced AP CEO Ilaria Resta, as she took the stage.

“As I assumed the role of acting CEO last year, I was truly impressed by the industry. While I had observed it from the outside, my time in Geneva [as president of global perfumery and ingredients for Firmenich] gave me access to the world of watchmaking. However, I hadn’t fully grasped the extent to which this industry relies on micromechanical engineering and precision. Yet, at the same time, there is a profound sense of heart involved in watchmaking.”


AP House in Milan spans 1,600sqm in a historical building

As she travels the world and meets people from various backgrounds, what stands out to Resta, especially with AP’s clients, is the special bond they share, united by a common passion for watches. “However, beyond this, I also discovered something more profound among our own team: a drive to push boundaries and strive for excellence. There’s a healthy sense of dissatisfaction, present in both our watchmakers and the market, that fuels our determination to constantly seek beyond what seems possible,” she recalled.

“Seek beyond” is not just a tagline or a marketing campaign, she stressed. “It’s the essence of how we operate, how we think and how we strive to exceed expectations every day in the realm of watchmaking, all for the satisfaction of our clients.”

Touching on client-centricity, which she said belongs in AP’s business model, is the reason the Le Brassus manufacture continues to create big events. “It gives us the opportunity to engage with clients, discuss with them and put them at the centre of the creative process. This gives us insights into what could be the dream watch of the future.”


The novelties

What will the future’s dream watches look like? During the launch, we were guided through presentations showcasing how the brand has continually reinterpreted shapes, pushed the boundaries of sizes, experimented with materials and explored innovative techniques in watchmaking before the new novelties were unveiled. Drum roll …

Five years after its first launch, seven new Code 11.59 references in 38mm and 41mm, all in 18-carat pink gold, were added to the portfolio. The updated models reflect the collection’s design evolution, which debuted in the stainless steel references in 2023. A new dial signature with an embossed pattern, specially created for the collection, replaces the previous, more understated designs. Collaboratively conceived by the design team and Swiss guilloché craftsman Yann von Kaenel, the concentric circles adorned with hundreds of tiny holes enhance legibility and play with light.

If you like some sparkle on your wrist, the two new versions of the 37mm Royal Oak Selfwinding in 18-carat pink or white gold are just the thing for you. The white gold iteration features brilliant-cut diamonds with a light green colour while the pink gold version combines brilliant-cut diamonds, graded blue sapphires and a light blue hue. Both are powered by the Calibre 5900, with a 22-carat pink gold oscillating weight and exquisite finishing visible through the sapphire caseback.


The new Code 11.59 models offer a wide variety of sizes, materials, colours and complications, all showcasing an ultra-contemporary design

There are no words to describe the beauty of the latest Royal Oak Frosted Gold Selfwinding model in a 37mm 18-carat yellow gold case and bracelet, meticulously adorned with a hammered finish to create a sparkling effect. Dubbed Frosted Gold by Audemars Piguet, this embellishment draws inspiration from a traditional jewellery technique originating in Florence and is reimagined by designer Carolina Bucci. Using a diamond-tipped tool, tiny marks are meticulously chiselled into the surface of the gold, resulting in a shimmering effect. The smoked golden dial with a sunburst finish gives it a rich visual contrast. With this timepiece, seeing is believing.

There were so many novelties worth writing home about but one standout was the new Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Openworked in 41mm, which marks the debut of sand gold, an innovative 18-carat gold alloy imbued with captivating light reflections. Exhibiting a hue that switches between white and pink gold, its colour changes with the interplay of angles and light. We finally got to see the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon “Tamara Ralph” Limited Edition 38.5mm and the intricately crafted multilayered dial, featuring a captivating array of textures and materials that were mind-blowing.


Star collaboration

The manufacture strategically enlisted Grammy award-winning American singer-songwriter-guitarist John Mayer as a “creative conduit” for an exclusive collaboration, a move aligned with AP’s steadfast commitment to supporting art and music. The brand has, after all, consistently brought people together through the universal language of emotions.

Mayer, also an avid watch collector, has very cleverly applied his creative and collector sensibilities to design the very last Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar limited edition equipped with the manufacture’s self-winding Calibre 5134.


John Mayer lent his collector’s eye and appreciation for precision and aesthetic beauty to the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar

Limited to just 200 pieces, this timekeeper seamlessly merges the aesthetic prowess of the Royal Oak with the intricate sophistication and celestial essence of the perpetual calendar. Crafted from 18-carat white gold, it exudes timeless elegance with its deep blue dial meticulously designed to evoke the boundless expanse of a crystal-clear sky.

Speaking about his new, never-before-heard creative conduit title at the launch, Mayer said it was something he naturally evolved into, driven by his passion for watches and interactions with fellow enthusiasts and artists eager to delve into the world of horology. “Acting as a bridge between the manufacturer and the client, my role involves telling the story of certain pieces and conveying clients’ perspectives back to the brand. It’s a constant dialogue.”

The project initially began as a personal endeavour to design a unique piece inspired by his love for the Royal Oak QP, addressing both aesthetic and practical considerations. “Redesigning isn’t just about changing colours; it’s about enhancing functionality with a clear purpose, breathing new life into the piece.”


Club's house

The main reason Milan was picked as the launch pad of AP Social Club this year is because of the opening of the new AP House in one of Milan’s most prestigious addresses, just a few metres from Piazza San Babila and the famous Montenapoleone fashion street. This marks seven years since the concept first debuted in the city.

The AP House is now the largest one globally, spread across five floors, comprising exhibition areas, lounges, a rooftop bar, a VR experience room by Dreamscape and an atelier floor for servicing and technical advisory. Essentially, it serves as a gathering place for watch enthusiasts to indulge in their passion. Options was among the first to explore the space.


The new AP House in Milan spans five floors and combines heritage, technology and highly contemporary design to take the brand’s experiential retail approach to new heights

“AP House is designed to forge a unique client relationship, different from that of a traditional boutique; it’s not purely transactional. Typically, visitors begin their journey with a walkthrough of our mini museum, which gives us an opportunity to share our watchmaking history and spread awareness,” Resta explains. AP House Milano now joins the 19 existing locations situated in some of the world’s most vibrant cities, including Amsterdam, Bangkok, Barcelona, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Munich, New York, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Zurich.

AP House is situated within the historic building of the former Garage Traversi, the city’s first multi-storey car park that operated from 1939 to 2003. Innovative for its time, the garage was designed by architect Giuseppe De Min as part of the wider urban development project of Piazza San Babila. The structure, designed in a rationalist style, is distinguished by its curved façades and steel-framed windows, representing a remarkable feat of architectural innovation, particularly with its car lift system.

After being abandoned for many years, the building underwent a three-year renovation process starting in 2021 and was tastefully transformed into a modern marvel by Lissoni & Partners, an architecture and interior design studio based in Milan and New York.

The earlier AP House concept stemmed from a collaboration with esteemed clients of the manufacture, envisioning how brand pioneers Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet would navigate the 21st century, traversing the globe and sharing their passion for exquisite timepieces. The outcome materialised into a sophisticated space that prioritises the essence of home comfort and meaningful human connections.


This article first appeared on Apr 8, 2024 in The Edge Malaysia.


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