You Can’t Ask That: The crazy (new) demand for complicated AP watchesZach Blass
This is the seventh and final 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 talk complications, and what the booming demand means for their buyers and their manufacture.
A key difference between a mass manufacture and an independent haute horology brand such as Audemars Piguet is that when you work within a certain top tier of watchmaking you have to be selective. What do I mean by this? Producing the highest of complications is… well… complicated. At this level of work and craftsmanship, inevitably a ton of hours go in to realizing a high-complication watch. As demand rises for these pieces, the challenge becomes meeting the demand. You can’t rush their execution, to do so would compromise the quality the brand’s name is built upon.
To be frank, meeting the current demand necessitates that more watchmakers are trained to the level required of actually fabricating and finishing these pieces – as well as the appropriate space and environment to conduct the work in. As it stands, only a certain number of tourbillons, repeaters, and perpetual calendars can be completed each year. So, the challenge for Michael and Lucas is determining how to allocate the time of the watchmakers to various collections. As an example, if 300 tourbillons can be made each year, Michael and Lucas have to be selective as to how large the run of each collection would be. To do a run of 300 Code 11:59 tourbillon watches would, in theory, mean no time for tourbillons on the Royal Oak front. The question they have to try an answer is: how many should we make in each collection? What collections do our clients want to see these complications realized in the most? It is a tough call, but one they optimize based on sales and feedback from their clients. To get a deeper sense of this complicated conundrum, you’ll have to check out the video below.