Post by Mark
I have a lot of information to share about my trip to Audemars Piguet and I’m going to try and keep it interesting and informative since I know not everyone is into watches like I am.
First just a bit of history on how that Swiss valley where AP is located became such a hotspot for all the watchmakers. The Audemars Piguet facilities are located in Vallée de Joux which is considered to be “the heart of Swiss watchmaking”. In the early 1800’s a watchmaker moved into the valley and started producing watches and when his business started booming he needed to hire help. The valley was full of farmers who spent the summers busy outdoors farming but the winters indoor not doing much. So, the farmers got into watchmaking since the basic tools to get started didn’t cost much and even their children started learning and working with watches at a young age. In other parts of Switzerland farmers were making music boxes during the winter months but they were making watches.
Once we arrived to Vallée de Joux which is just over an hour drive from Geneva, we were taken to the AP Restoration Department followed by the Museum. The restoration department is where they work to restore old watches back to working condition while trying to preserve all their original parts. A lot of the watch parts aren’t available anymore so if anything is missing or needs replacing not only do they have to hand make the parts but they always try to remake them using the same technique they were originally made with. While we were there we were lucky that the head of the department was working on a vintage pocket watch that contained a Grand Complication movement dating back to 1899 (pictured above). A simple watch movement is a watch that indicates the hours, minutes and seconds. On the other hand a calendar is a complicated movement, a moon phase, an alarm, a minute repeater (tells time using chimes) are all complicated movements. A Grand Complication is a movement that contains a whole bunch of complicated movements all together in one watch. I’ll try to list everything the watch above does so here it goes: It has clock watch with grand and small strike, minute-repeater, split seconds chronograph with minutes counter, alarm, jumping seconds, flying seconds and perpetual calendar. Yeah that’s a lot of things and this is a watch that was created back in 1899. It’s currently valued at around 3 million Euros.
After leaving the restoration department we headed to the museum. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but I did manage to take the one below of a poster that I saw hanging on the wall (I want it). The museum is housed in the original AP building from the late 1800’s. Although it’s full of interesting pieces, this was probably the most boring part of the whole trip for me because I couldn’t wait to get out and head over to their main production facility. If anyone knows where I can find the Ali with Arnold poster please let me know.