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LEGENDARY WATCHMAKER AUDEMARS PIGUET

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak automatic quantieme perpetual calendar octagonal wristwatch with moon phases in solid platinum, which sold for $256,000 at Morphy Auctions in December 2020.

Many people have probably never heard of the luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet, let alone own one of its products – but make no mistake: the venerable Swiss-based firm has been wowing users and collectors for nearly 150 years, from its launch in 1875 until the present day.

The company was founded by Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet, childhood friends who reconnected when they were in their twenties, as both had entered the business of watchmaking. Early on, Audemars was creating complex watch movements for other manufacturers, such as Tiffany & Co., and Piguet was specializing in the regulation of watch movements.

The two men partnered in 1875, with Audemars in charge of production and technical tasks and Piguet in charge of sales and management. In 1881, Audemars Piguet et Cie was officially founded, with operations based in the Swiss village of Le Brassus. From that point forward, Audemars Piguet was an industry innovator, introducing the world’s first minute repeating movement for wristwatches (1892), the first skeleton watch (1934), and some of the thinnest watches in the world, such as the 1986 automatic tourbillon wristwatch, the Calibre 2870. But in the 1970s the firm developed what would become its signature line of wristwatches for decades to come: the Royal Oak.

Audemars Piguet 18K rose gold perpetual calendar chronograph watch, one of 100 made to benefit a charity. It sold for $28,290 at GWS Auctions in October 2019.

“Watch collectors in the know will tell you when they think of Audemars Piguet, the words Royal Oak come straight to mind,” said Tyler St. Gelais of Jones & Horan, the New Hampshire-based auction house specializing in antique and vintage watches, clocks, jewelry, and coins. “The Royal Oak was designed by Gerald Genta, the famed designer for Audemars in the 1970s. It is considered by most to be the first luxury sports watch. Genta designed the Royal Oak to look like an antique diving helmet, with its visible screws and octagonal faceted bezel.”

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak offshore men’s watch, which sold for $25,000 at Laguna Beach Auction House in January 2019.

Today the Royal Oak is considered a classic, but it wasn’t the instant success many believe it was. “Its launch coincided with the start of the age of quartz watches, which saw the dominance of Swiss watchmaking brought to its knees,” St. Gelais said. “Over an 18-year period, from 1970 to 1988, 1,600 watchmaking firms collapsed, to just over 600 total. During that time, many makers banded together to create quartz movements to compete with the Japanese, but the effort was futile and many longstanding companies either closed their doors or merged to create more stable conglomerates. This gave rise to the Swatch group, among others.”

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 11.5-carat diamone men’s wristwatch, which sold for $26,432 at Estate Jewelry Auctioneers in December 2019.

Audemars, keeping true to form, saw quartz as a fad and kept working on incredibly intricate and complicated mechanical movements. They knew great watches weren’t just about timekeeping but the romanticism of a truly mechanical piece set to one purpose, versus the soulless tick of its battery counterpart. During the late 1970s, at the height of the quartz crisis, Audemars released the first automatic perpetual calendar, considered by most to be the epitome of complication. This watch was able to adjust from long months and short months, as well as adjust itself for leap years every four years. If the watch were able to run indefinitely without the need of repair or fresh oil, it could do so for 100 years.

Ladies’ Audemars Piguet Royal Oak stainless steel wristwatch, which sold for $7,475 at BK Auctions in March 2019.

In terms of market value, Audemars watches are “all over the place,” St. Gelais said. “The entire watch market has been in a free climb in price since the mid-2000s, which has seen early Royal Oak models from the ‘70s go from stainless models below $20,000 and some two-tone models from below $10,000, to stainless models regularly selling for prices in excess of $75,000 and two-tone models in excess of $50,000. On the flip side, a plain hour minute dress watch from the 1950s through ‘70s or ‘80s has plummeted in value, with prices in the $1,500-$3,000 price range, making them easily accessible to most collectors.”

Unauthenticated Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore men’s watch, which sold for $2,737 at Rare Treasures in April 2020.

These changes in value are not limited solely to Audemars Piguet. “Folks are looking more toward sports watches today in larger sizes, whereas dress models from years gone by are just not desirable in today’s market,” St. Gelais pointed out. “This is true for the other members of the ‘Holy Trinity’ – Vacheron & Constantin and Patek Philippe. For the future, I see no limit to the vintage original Royal Oak models, with collectors viewing these pieces as wearable art. The sky is the limit, with smaller dress models likely to stay affordable to the average collector for years to come.”

Luxury jewelry auction Aug. 11 features famous names

From iconic Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra and Cartier Panthere jewelry to fine Patek Philippe and Rolex watches, the Jasper52 auction titled Fine Jewelry Inspired by the Las Vegas Show features the best of the best in luxury jewelry, watches and fashion. All items in the Aug. 11 auction are sourced from dealers who exhibit at shows in Las Vegas.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 4700/4 men’s watch. 27mm 18K gold case and gold stationary bezel, quartz movement. Estimate: $151,000-$181,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Variety of luxury watches presented in Jasper52 auction July 10

NEW YORK – Forty-nine luxury wristwatches and a dozen assorted lots of gold jewelry by renowned designers comprise an online auction that will be conducted by Jasper52 on Wednesday, July, 10. From Jaeger-LeCoultre to Bulgari, Rolex, Omega and more, these creators continue to create watches with timeless styling and precision.

Omega Speedmaster chronograph automatic men’s watch, 2000-2010, with its original box and warranty, original steel bracelet. Estimate: $1,800-$2,000. Jasper52 image

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Fine jewelry, watches highlight Jasper52 auction May 29

More than 600 lots of fine jewelry, watches and decorative art are offered in an online auction taking place Wednesday, May 29, through Jasper52. Names synonymous with the highest quality design and craftsmanship are presented: Tiffany & Co., Buccellati, Rolex and Jaeger-Lecoultre, to name a few.

Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., 18K ring with 2.06 heart-shaped diamond and 14 round diamonds weighing approximately 0.28 carats, 1960s. Estimate: $34,000-$41,000. Jasper52 image

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Miami Beach Antique Show brings auction to Jasper52 March 30

On March 30, Jasper52 will present an auction loaded with choice items exclusively from the prestigious Miami Beach Antique Show. From iconic Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra jewelry to an exquisite museum-quality clock and garniture set, this special online auction features only the best in jewelry, watches, decorative art and fine art.

Patek Philippe women’s 18K rose gold and diamond Twenty~4 quartz wristwatch, ref. 4908/11R. Estimate $23,000-$28,000. Jasper52 image

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63 Rolex models offered in luxury watch auction Oct. 24

Watch collectors and anyone desiring a luxury timepiece should peruse the Jasper52 auction catalog of premium designer wristwatches that will be sold Wednesday, Oct. 24. The online auction features the most sought-after names in watchmaking such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, LeCoultre and Rolex, many in 18K gold.

Rare Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date in Florentine finish, 18K yellow gold with 18k tellow gold bracelet, ref.1502, made 1953-1963. Estimate: $18,000-$22,000. Jasper52 image

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Great times ahead for Jasper52 luxury watch buyers July 11

Nearly 200 authentic Swiss-made luxury watches are being offered in a Jasper52 online auction that will take place Wednesday, July 11. More than half of the auction catalog is devoted to Rolex watches, from vintage to contemporary models that are like new and in their original boxes.

Rolex Submariner, Oyster Perpetual date, stainless steel case, automatic movement, with original Rolex box, papers and cloth. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000. Jasper52 image

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Dozens of luxury watches comprise Jasper52 auction May 23

Jasper52 will present a highly curated online auction consisting of antique, vintage and modern watches on Wednesday, May 23. This premium sale features the most sought-after names in watchmaking such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Panerai and Vacheron Constantin – all in excellent condition. At the top of the list is a coveted 18K gold Rolex Submariner wristwatch that features a perpetual self-winding movement with instantaneous date and a Rolex Presidential bracelet.

Cartier Santos 100 XL wristwatch, stainless steel with 18K yellow gold fixed bezel, self-winding automatic movement, 38mm. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000. Jasper52 image

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Scores of luxury brands offered in online watch auction May 2

Famous name wristwatches and pocket watches will be going up for bid in a Jasper52 online auction on Wednesday, May 2. Patek Philippe, Rolex and Tiffany & Co. are among the luxury brands available in this 200-lot collection of vintage and modern timepieces.

Panerai Luminor GMT automatic ocean chronometer, limited edition, stainless steel case.
Estimate: $4,500-$5,500. Jasper52 image

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Time-honored brands grace luxury watch auction April 4

An all-star lineup of luxury watches from the world’s finest manufacturers is offered in an online auction on Wednesday, April 4, by Jasper52. Rolex, Breitling, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin are just a few of the brands that are being presented in this sparkling collection.

Breitling Cosmonaute Navitimer B12019, 41mm, 18K gold bezel and stainless steel, manual wind chronograph. Estimate: $5,000-$6,000. Jasper52 image

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