Audemars Piguet’s launch of an extraordinary High Jewelry timepiece gives a fresh impetus to a specialty that has illuminated its heritage for 130 years. Although exercised in varying degrees of intensity over the decades, the creation of splendid feminine jewelry demonstrates skills and talents that the Manufacture has admirably perpetuated to the highest level.
Founded in 1875 in Le Brassus in the Vallée de Joux, Audemars Piguet is an independent watchmaking brand that to this day has always been owned by descendants of its founders and still lives in the village of its birth. Its values of tradition and authenticity are inseparably bound up with the environment in which it has developed, as is demonstrated by its advertising campaign featuring wonderful images of local landscapes. In 2013, the valley blessed by Audemars Piguet is subtly evoked through a highly symbolic piece of jewelry that brings to mind not only the brand’s natural heritage, but also the feminine element that is so deeply rooted within it.
Audemars Piguet started creating calibres designed for ladies’ watches from 1883 onwards, less than ten years after its foundation, and has nurtured the art of jewelry throughout its history. The beginning of the 20th century, with its Belle Epoque and the Roaring Twenties, was a particularly rich period marked by a creativity that has been echoed ever since from generation to generation.
Today, the plant-life themes of Art Nouveau suffuse a depiction of the Vallée de Joux, while the geometric lines of Art Deco endow the portrayal with an inimitable sense of purity and restraint. Different styles thus merge to compose a highly sophisticated contemporary creation.
This new High Jewelry creation was born under the watchful eye of a woman, none other than the President of the Board, Jasmine Audemars, and stem from the fertile imagination of designer Julie Dicks under the guidance of Octavio Garcia, Audemars Piguet’s Chief Artistic Officer.
In the brand’s employ for the past two years, Julie represents the only female presence in the in-house design department. Her particular sensitivity has resulted in a highly refined wristwatch with a 28.5 millimeter diameter, fitted with a bracelet featuring gradually decreasing foliage developed on fine, intersecting branches. It is a play on asymmetry, with reverse ramifications and a crown offset at 2 o’clock, associated with great subtlety expressed through alternating polished and gem-set surfaces.
The stylized landscape on the dial evokes the Dent de Vaulion, a peak in the Jura overlooking the Lac de Joux. To symbolize the serenity of nature lying dormant beneath the snow, the designer has chosen to combine the whiteness of mother-of-pearl, gold and diamonds. A sprinkling of blue sapphires adds a cool, fresh touch, while the exquisitely feminine and romantic spirit of this piece is accentuated by a flight of swallows heralding the imminent arrival of spring. A crossroad of exceptional crafts this contemporary masterpiece was designed, developed and created by Audemars Piguet.
It represents the entire spectrum of crafts perpetuated internally and is the fruit of an interactive collaboration between the various craftsmen - designer, jeweller, gem-setter and engraver – as well as the watchmakers who produced the Manufacture’s mechanical movement. The creation of the bracelet followed a particularly long and meticulous process. The manufacturing phase itself was preceded by an in-depth study of volumes and joints in order to obtain a perfect balance and maximum flexibility, with the aim of respecting the original design. The gold leaves, all different sizes, were individually hand-crafted, and partially cover delicate metal strands, assembled using the sophisticate Parisian mesh technique. The S shaped curves they trace considerably add to the complexity of the task. In order not to spoil the overall aesthetic appearance, the jeweler has designed an invisible clasp concealed at 6 o’clock beneath the case. In addition, as the bracelet can be completely taken apart, any adjustments can be easily made to ensure the closest possible fit on the owner’s wrist.
The precious stones, the purest diamonds (IF) and the best quality sapphires come in brilliant, baguette and marquise cuts. Some are tailor-made in situ to ensure that they suit their positioning, while others have imposed their unique character on the shaping of the structure. Snow, grain and closed setting result in harmonious reflections contrasting with rare subtlety, and a composition that is lit up right the way through to the case-back. Overall, this piece is enhanced with 440 diamonds, including 16 exceptional marquise-cut stones, totaling 10.99 carats, as well as 11 sapphires totaling 0.21 carat.
The engraver calls upon the full measure of his skill to provide a deliberately light relief to the gold plate on the dial. Open-worked like lace, it forms the décor on a base covered in diamonds and pristine mother-of-pearl. The surface of the branches required the utmost attention due to their extreme finesse (0.3 to 0.4 millimeters thick), entailing the risk of destroyed the work by even the slightest inadvertent gesture. Leaves engraved on either side of the case form dynamic lines that extend the ramifications of the bracelet lugs. The movement is enlivened by the distinctive design of the ratchet-wheel. This round, mobile part enhanced by a dedicated engraving, attracts the eye and personalizes the movement that may be admired through the sapphire case-back.
The mechanical movement housed in this High Jewelry timepiece is hand-wound Calibre 3091, beating at a rate of 21,600 vibrations per hour and endowed with a 48-hour power reserve. Designed, developed and manufactured internally at the Manufacture Audemars Piguet, the timepiece is decorated in keeping with the finest watchmaking traditions. Its blued screws evoke the color of the gold hands sweeping over the dial and the sapphires that enhance the radiance of the bracelet. A movement such as this instills exceptionally exclusive character into this sparkling creation, since jewelry watches driven by a mechanical calibre are few and far between. Harmony rules in this sumptuous creation. The theme admirably reflects the identity of a family company that is deeply attached to its roots and the art of jewelry blends wonderfully with the art of watchmaking.
For Audemars Piguet, it also heralds a renaissance in the realm of High Jewelry, to the delight of women who are enthralled by its age-old expertise.
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