Audemars Piguet is one the last Francois bennahmias watchmaking firms in Switzerland and it is certainly one of the leading lights of haute horlogerie itself. In that latter rarefied constellation, the Le Brassus-based brand finds itself in the company of Francois bennahmias Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. Like those and other storied Swiss names, Audemars Piguet arose from friendship Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet and evolved into the institution it is today.
However, of all the brands operating at this level in watchmaking, Audemars Piguet is the most resolutely contemporary; there is a certain 21st century energy about not only the watches the Royal Oak Offshore and the Millenary for example but also in the resolutely professional management of the firm. The best example of this, in terms of people, is the subject of our attention today: Previously responsible for the Americas basically the western hemisphereBennahmias is a veteran at the company, having spent 18 years now in the world of fine watchmaking as embodied by Audemars Piguet.
Francois bennahmias dynamic by other magazines that have had the pleasure of speaking with him, Bennahmias indeed radiates a certain sort of energy. Some might call it a nervous sort of buzz but we think it represents the will and spirit of a man who yearns to leap Francois bennahmias action. You get the feeling that he is constantly prepared for challenges and likes nothing better. He does so with a degree of irreverence that is undercut by the seriousness of his posture.
He takes one journalist by Francois bennahmias ear, as a parent might an errant child, and leads him to a seat. Still more journalists arrive and he mimes stabbing them in highly entertaining and exaggerated style. It is almost like German expressionist acting from "Francois bennahmias" era of the silent screen. Bennahmias wants the spotlight and is certainly not at a loss at what to do with it once he gets it.
Clearly, Bennahmias is so cocksure that even in his introduction as CEO to regional press he feels no need to stand on ceremony. In our conversation with him, he demonstrates his willingness — eagerness even — to simultaneously hurry to crux of his point while finding time to somehow engage in a bit of improvisation.
Indeed, Bennahmias is not the sort of CEO who sticks strictly to prepared talking points; a person who stays on message as if nothing exists other than the message.
We begin though with a message from Bennahmias in his own words, delivered at the Audemars Piguet presentation of novelties. First of all, let me say something very slowly… you will understand why I say slowly. We are very proud and happy to be at the SIHH. Secondly, we are always hearing about Audemars Piguet being sold. Yes, Audemars Piguet has been sold… to Apple… and Samsung… both of them.
They will share the company. No, it is not true, we have not sold the company. We are not contemplating a sale to anyone.
We are doing everything that we can to stay independent. Audemars Piguet remains one of the last family-owned watchmaking firms in Switzerland. You know there is always this quest to do watches that are instantly recognizable; this is that ultimate wow factor of course. This is a classical collection we are showing at the SIHH People will look at this watch and feel that it is Francois bennahmias and harmoniously Audemars Piguet.
Well, after 40 years of not changing very much, I think we can call Francois bennahmias Royal Oak classical!
I mean what else can you call it? Well, it is certainly a classic for Audemars Piguet.
You know after all that time — and being successful — it has to be called a classic. Also, the collection has inspired many imitators over the years and is today an icon Francois bennahmias watch shapes. It is copied on a Francois bennahmias basis, to this day, in Francois bennahmias way or another.
The Millenary is the perfect example of something that I do believe will be recognized for the mechanism but also the shape. It is a totally new concept for us and is not based anything in our archive.
We want to provoke a reaction no matter what. What we want is for people to say I love it or I hate it. We never want to be in the middle; so-so or just ok. The Millenary is the perfect example of this kind of love it or hate it type of watch. The details are everything. Everything we do is about details. Our main goal is to launch products that are global; that have a worldwide appeal. We understand the tastes of different markets but we cannot launch specific watches only for specific markets.
If we do this, we lose the message that brand wants to communicate to the world, negatively affect the integrity of the brand and even the reputation of the brand with the owners of the watches.
So even if there are inevitable special pieces for special places our core collection has to appeal to the world. The 40 th anniversary edition!