You Can’t Ask That: Cross-pollination across Audemars Piguet collectionsZach Blass
This is the sixth video in a series of more conversational, and less directly watch-focused, videos that aim to provide richer telling of the Audemars Piguet story. Why is it called, You Can’t Ask That? These are questions and topics that don’t commonly get addressed in the interviews with either Lucas Raggi, the Research and Development Director, or Michael Friedman, Head of Complications. Here Andrew, Michael, and Lucas dig into the cross-pollination of design cues and components across Audemars Piguet collections.
Back when Steve Jobs headed tech giant Apple, he had intentionally placed the bathrooms in HQ in a central location so that, throughout the day, various employees of different departments would inevitably run into each other. It sounds like a strange detail to implement, but the logic was it created opportunities for the cross-pollination of ideas – a sort of water-cooler moment where as people ran into each other ideas would be shared. Steve Jobs was no slouch, so if he valued cross-pollination there was a strong reason for creating these not so chance encounters.
This concept of cross-pollination extends to Audemars Piguet’s watches. There are both technical advantages as well as aesthetic and emotional advantages, creating distinct pieces across a catalogue with a common identity. With a brand like Audemars Piguet this is key, as its powerhouse status was achieved through the design language and execution the brand was built upon. A clear aesthetic example would be the mid-case of the Code 11:59 and case profile of the Royal Oak. On the technical side, we recently saw the in-house chronograph caliber 4401 that debuted in the Code 11:59 find its way into the Royal Oak Offshore Flyback Chronograph.
As Michael and Lucas explain, when looking at the Concept, Code 11:59, and Royal Oak collections there are three different approaches. Arguably the most experimentation occurs within the Concept collection because it is a safe space for the brand to try novel things, as it is a defining characteristic of the Concept line (trying new concepts). The Code 11:59 is all about breaking the rules and norms once they have been mastered, and as a contemporary collection there is greater room for exploration within a design identity that, in some respects, is still evolving and defining itself. With the Royal Oak, a classic icon, exploration becomes a bit tougher because there is a balance between exhibiting new materials, components, and concepts while also ensuring that the essence that defines it remains.
From a practical point of view, calibers that are developed are not necessarily created for just one collection in mind – but that doesn’t mean they are just recycled across the catalogue as well. With the Code 11:59 framework you have a more rounded and curved design real estate, and as a more contemporary piece they can explore aesthetics and complications such as their open-worked tourbillon. But Michael and Lucas explain that if the base caliber would be introduced in a Royal Oak Offshore, there would need to be subtle component changes along with an entirely different bridge aesthetic to better fit the Offshore watch. To learn more about the common threads across collections, cross-pollination, and how similar components are used to create very different pieces, definitely check out the video below.