Fine horology is enjoying a credible transition from “craft” to “art” status.   Why? With smart phones, lap tops, computers and tablets blinking the time in our collective fields of vision with split second accuracy at every moment, we no longer need wristwatches. Still, we continue to covet, appreciate and admire them…just as we do when in the presence of more conventional art forms. The less essential wristwatches become, it seems, the more closely we see fit to examine them, value them and luxuriate in them.

Ever since Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet founded the Audemars Piguet manufacture in 1875, the watchmakers of Le Brassus, Switzerland have been on a quest to combine artistic excellence and technical mastery, discovering countless parallels between contemporary art and the artistry that lies at the heart of its timepieces. Since 2013, with this interest in creativity and innovation within the art world to the fore, Audemars Piguet has been an Associate Partner of Art Basel. As a pioneer of the art of watchmaking, the Manufacture organizes exhibitions showcasing exceptional timepieces in an exclusive lounge at the heart of the Art Basel’s galleries, while also supporting contemporary artists via the Audemars Piguet Art Commission and making its own contribution to the fairs also; Mineral Lab is an installation created by leading French designer Mathieu Lehanneur, inspired by the worlds of science, nature and technology, all present at Audemars Piguet’s home in the Vallée de Joux. Integrating a surrounding eco-living wall of stabilised moss, Lehanneur’s work, a visual interpretation of the natural seasons, combined with a sound installation named Wild Constellations by the Geneva-based artist Alexandre Joly, mirrors Le Brassus’ famous “Savoir-Faire” in watchmaking and the six fundamental values established by the Audemars Piguet’s founders: respect, integrity, exclusivity, inspiration, passion, and sophistication. Get up close with any of Audemars Piguet’s watches and those same fundamental values are rendered in rare and precious metals, handcrafted elegance, micro precision engineering and exacting beauty.

Audemars Piguet’s quest to align art with horology is best represented by its iconic Royal Oak collection. First unveiled in 1972, the Royal Oak’s steel case, octagonal bezel, “tapisserie” dial and integrated bracelet overturned prevailing aesthetic and technical conventions and gained immediate status as a true modern icon.

Originally designed in 1984, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar remains one of the most timelessly beautiful dress watches.  It has a brain preloaded with the vagaries of year-long calendars and the length of the months, whether they have 28, 29, 30 or 31 days, leap years included.  It is now available in five versions, two in steel, two in pink gold and one in yellow gold, the updated models all contain the Audemars Piguet 5134 caliber which is an updated version of the 2120 – for this mere 2 millimeter increase in case diameter, the manufacture has redesigned the movement somewhat so that it is in accordance with the slightly larger case size. A perpetual calendar with automatic winding, the 5134 still comes in at a mere 4.31 mm thick and is exposed by a sapphire caseback.

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