Audemars Piguet posts 17% gain

Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet in 2001 posted a 17% increase in sales, to $109 million (187 million Swiss francs), says the company.

The company, headquartered in Le Brassus, has had double-digit growth for several years. In the U.S. market, Audemars Piguet’s sales rose 23% to $14 million. Despite the events of 11 September, U.S. sales were better than planned, said Georges-Henri Meylan, the company’s chief executive officer in an interview with the Federation of Swiss Watchmakers.

This year looks to be “extremely promising,” says the company report. Supporting that outlook are some high profile events. They include co-sponsorship of the “Alinghi,” the Swiss yacht team in the America’s Cup 2002 and the limited edition Royal Oak City of Sails chronograph (starting at $11,800), which celebrates the sponsorship.

A joint project this spring with the popular U.S. band *NSYNC that included the sale of 200 limited edition Royal Oak and Promesse watches ($5,900 – $8,500) with the band’s signatures engraved on the back (plus tickets to the group’s 2002 concerts). The effort raised $250,000 for the band’s charity: a scholarship fund for children affected by the World Trade Center attacks.

And a celebration of the 30th anniversary of AP’s world famous Royal Oak, the world’s first luxury stainless steel watch.

A re-imagining of the design of the Royal Oak was expected to be presented in April at this year’s Salon de la Haute Horologerie (SIHH) in Geneva, Switzerland. AP earlier this year also introduced the collectible, the Edward Piguet Sapphire Tourbillon, in platinum case inspired by the design of Galileo’s pendulum. Valued at $244,000, only three to five a year will be made.

A highlight of 2001 was a traveling exhibition, which went to 60 cities around the world. The exhibition presented a range of prestigious timekeepers including Grande Complication, minute repeater, tourbillon, and grand strike models.