A Class Act

A Class Act

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 The focus is on classical watches with two new launches this year, Andemars Piguet Asia Pacific MD, Oliviero Bottinelli ,tells Mitrajit Bhattacharya 

By and large, 2008 has not been a good year for the watch industry? How has it been for Audemars Piguet in 2009?
As far as AP is concerned, 2008 was a very good year. In fact, it was a record year for AP, globally, and in the Asian region too. And 2009 was even better than 2008; we sold 62 pieces more.

Would you say a brand like AP is recession-proof ?
Yes. We have customers who seek us out for the work we have done in the last 10 years and the values that we have come to stand for.

Around 5-7 years back, your representation in ladies watches was very less. How has it changed over the years?
Today, we have a very distinct ladies range. Royal Oak Ladies, Offshore Ladies and Millenary Ladies have all been very well accepted.

How much percentage of your overall revenue is accounted to by the sale of the ladies range?
It is approximately 30 per cent.

Which models in the past five years have done exceedingly well in terms of revenue?
The response to Offshore has been overwhelming. A lot of people credit Panerai with having launched the first big watch. However, it is Offshore that was the first big watch. And because it was so successful, we manufactured limited editions of about 100 pieces. But AP is much more than just Offshore. We started to manufacture complication watches in 1875 and still continue to have beautiful complication watches. This will carry on in the future too. AP was known in the 40s for extraflat watches; very classical watches. We want to continue to make classical watches and we are launching two beautiful extra-flat automatic watches this year.

Isn’t it true that Offshore is AP’s forte?
No, absolutely not. A lot of effort is being targeted towards the development of classical watches at AP. Millenary is another fantastic watch that no one else has. Also, we want to work on flat watches again. We have invested a lot of time and money in Offshore and now we want to invest in flat watches. As a step in that direction, we are re-launching the Jules Audemars line.

How much are these priced at?
S$ 33,000

How do you foresee 2010 for the industry and the brand?
As far as the industry is concerned, I see a consolidation throughout Europe. All the brands have learnt a lot in 2009. Some were more prudent than others. Talking of AP, we already have had important clients approaching us.

You wanted to go with a Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix watch this year instead of associating with drivers like a Montoya or a Barrichello, right?
Yes. What we noticed is that we still have Jarno Trulli, Rubens Barrichello and Sebastien Buemi. And we are still looking at other drivers. But instead of going with one driver, we want to be a bit more generic. People in the paddocks around the world at a Grand Prix know AP very well. So we have decided to be more general. We still want to be in F1, therefore Grand Prix. And that is the reason we have gone for Offshore Grand Prix.

Are they limited?
Yes, they are limited to 1,750 pieces. The Carbon one is 1,025 pieces, Pink Gold is 650 pieces, while Platinum is 75 pieces.

What are their price points?
The Carbon one is for S$ 49,000, the Pink Gold one is for S$ 88,000, and the Platinum one is for S$ 115,000.